Ed Lee sworn in as first Chinese-American mayor of San Francisco 

Ed Lee, the first Chinese-American mayor of San Francisco, was sworn into office Tuesday afternoon amid a large audience that filled up City Hall’s rotunda to celebrate the historic moment.

The 58-year-old Glen Park resident was surrounded and praised by San Francisco’s political elite, including the power brokers who helped his ascension into the most powerful post in The City, former mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom, and Chinatown Chamber of Commerce consultant Rose Pak.

In taking the post, Lee — who was selected by the moderate bloc on the Board of Supervisors to become the 43rd mayor of San Francisco — symbolizes a significant political upheaval that has progressives struggling to define

Lee, who was appointed mayor in an 11-0 vote Tuesday by the   board, has worked for two decades in city government, most recently as city administrator. He spoke of transcending the political power struggle between The City’s moderate and progressive factions to “tackle our problems with resolve.”

“I was a progressive before progressive was a political faction in this town,” Lee said. “I present myself to you as a mayor for everyone. A mayor for the neighborhoods, for downtown, for business, for labor for the powerless and the powerful. For the left, the right and everyone in between.”

Lee will serve out the remaining year of Newsom’s vacated term. He says he doesn’t plan to run for mayor in November.

Lee finds himself in the most powerful position in The City, but faces a challenging environment: a massive $360 million budget deficit, the need to reduce city workers’ pension costs, and large undertakings like the redevelopment of Treasure Island and the search for a new police chief. Before resigning as mayor to become lieutenant governor this week, Newsom provided Lee with strategies to lower labor costs.

In an interview before his swearing in, Lee said he would consider one of Newsom’s more controversial proposals: contracting out services like security, janitorial and health care in the jails. Such proposals have been floated by several mayors, but have been blocked by influential public-employee unions and the progressive supervisors they helped elect.

“I can’t shy away from those types of things.” Lee said Tuesday morning. “When we are talking  hundreds of millions of dollars, we have to put everything on the table. I think it’s unfair to just completely categorize something as untouchable.”

Lee will meet with department heads and get briefed on the budget today. Later, he plans to meet with the Police Commission chair along with newly appointed District Attorney George Gascón to discuss who will replace Gascón as police chief.

While the board’s left-leaning faction would like to see changes to the former Newsom administration, Lee doesn’t sound like he’s interested in a shakeup.

“I’m not asking anybody to leave at this time,” he said.


On Ed Lee’s agenda

- Tackle $360 million budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1
- Appoint a police chief to fill post vacated by the appointment of George Gascón to district attorney
- Oversee preparations for the 2013 America’s Cup
- Advance redevelopment of Treasure Island, Bayview-Hunters Point
- Improve relations with 49ers owner Jed York
- Negotiate with labor unions over pension, benefit costs

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