Political Uproar as Mark Farrell Replaces London Breed as S.F. Mayor

Supporters of London Breed express outrage at her being removed as acting mayor. (Scott Shafer/KQED)

San Francisco Acting Mayor London Breed was removed from the job by her colleagues at the Board of Supervisors in a Tuesday vote that surprised many in the city.

Supervisor Mark Farrell will replace her as interim mayor until voters select a new mayor in June.

The board’s vote marked a stunning reversal of fortune for Breed and shift in the city’s political landscape. It outraged many residents who showed up to support Breed, an African-American woman who became acting mayor after the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee six weeks ago.

Breed, who remains Board of Supervisors president, expressed resignation at the outcome.


“I will continue to do all that I can to take care of this city,” she said. “I am still on the ballot June 5, and we need to get fired up and ready to go!”

The vote to remove her as acting mayor came after hours of public testimony — much of it very emotional and charged with racial undertones. As soon as it became apparent that the first African-American woman to lead San Francisco was being replaced by a white male representing some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the board chambers erupted.

Some members of the audience, infuriated by the turn of events, chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.”

“This is war!” some shouted as board members left the chambers.

Mark Farrell, elected Tuesday to be San Francisco’s interim mayor by fellow supervisors. (San Francisco Board of Supervisors)

Farrell initially secured the seat by a 7-2 vote, but faced a second vote when Supervisor Katy Tang withdrew her initial vote of support. In the end, Farrell took office with a 6-3 vote. He’ll have to relinquish his seat on the board — but gets to name his District 2 replacement.

After the vote, Farrell ducked out of the supervisors chambers and was sworn in as interim mayor by City Attorney Dennis Herrera around 9 p.m.

Asked whether her removal as acting mayor was due to underlying racism, Breed declined to say it was.

“I don’t want to dwell on that particular element because it has sadly brought out the worst in some people,” she said. “And so what I am trying to do as a leader in this city is bring out the best in people.”

Farrell’s appointment as interim mayor was delivered not by his allies on the Board of Supervisors’ moderate faction but by the board’s most progressive members, including Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, who is herself running for mayor. Their goal was to remove the political advantage Breed had as acting mayor in the June election — and they did.

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, who for a while was in the running to be interim mayor himself, marveled at the political machinations that resulted in Farrell moving into Room 200.

“This was one of the best politically orchestrated maneuvers I’ve ever seen, that nobody expected but which will serve San Francisco very well,” Agnos said.

During more than three hours of public testimony, several speakers referred to the outsized political influence of Ron Conway, a high-tech mogul who strongly backed both Breed and the late Mayor Lee.

In her remarks, which were at times tearful, Supervisor Hillary Ronen called Conway’s influence in city politics “gross.”

“There are white, rich men — billionaires — in this city that have steered the policies for the past mayoral administrations … that have gotten us into the absolute mess that we are in today, where poor people and people of color cannot afford to live in the city,” Ronen said.

“I hate to say it, but those same white men are enthusiastically supporting your candidacy, London Breed,” she added. “They are threatening people if they don’t support London Breed, saying that their careers will be ruined if they don’t support London Breed. And that is not right. It’s the grossest part of politics in America.”

Many of Breed’s supporters believed her success in the June election was closely tied to her remaining acting mayor. Now, the playing field is more level, giving candidates favored by progressives — former state Sen. Mark Leno and Supervisor Jane Kim — a better shot.

Political Uproar as Mark Farrell Replaces London Breed as S.F. Mayor 31 January,2018Scott Shafer

  • virgil

    A straight white man unseats an African American female!! Now do you (POC) see how these liberals play you for chumps?

    • Whamadoodle

      Cue Russian trolls exploiting racial divisions in America

      • Curious

        Barry is a Russian troll?

        • Whamadoodle

          How do YOU feel about Russian sanctions, paid troll? Think we should keep them? Or do you think Putin should be allowed to get away with murder in the Ukraine?

          Diverting every discussion to “barry” this and “hillary” that is kind of a giveaway, too, paid troll. Both of you people are obvious trolls are obvious.

        • virgil

          ignore Whamadoodle –he/she/it has proven over and over to be a psych case badly in need of meds and 5 point restraint.

          • Whamadoodle

            Obvious Russian troll is obvious

      • virgil

        Right….time for some anti paranoia meds

        • Whamadoodle

          LOL!!! Hahaha! Hey virgil, this discussion look familiar? You know, the one where you’re 24/7 saying “this guy is a Russian troll”?

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/kqednewsfix/trump_why_allow_immigrants_from_8216shithole_countries8217/#comment-3703918914

          • virgil

            Like I said before, I really hope you don’t own an AR-15 cuz every time you post a comment everyone can hear the tick, tick, tick, tick….please get help before it is too late. Call your local mental health help line.

          • Whamadoodle

            Hahaha! So it’s fine for you to go calling everyone on earth a Russian troll, but you don’t want anyone to point out that you are one yourself? OK buddy whatever

        • Whamadoodle

          Anyway, tell Putin your cover is blown

          • virgil

            OK, Vlad just told me to tell you to please get some help before it is too late. Call a mental health help line and tell them you are a danger to yourself and others.

    • Wagnerian_thrice

      Liberals playing for POC for chumps has to do with touting POC as candidates who are especially linked to corruption, big money and the rotten status quo as persons who would best serve. A straight, white man is better than corrupt Ron Conway working through London Breed.

      • Wagnerian_thrice

        Also: Go Jane Kim!

        • virgil

          I might vote for her only cuz I liked her slogan “See Jane Run”

      • virgil

        I am neither for or against any one candidate or board member. Last City politician that matched up with my politics was probably Jordan. What I meant was that POC slavishly vote for Dems and thus are taken for granted by the Dems.

  • thatsthewayitis

    Anything that stops the political machine is a positive step for democracy. This coalition to chose Farrel had nothing to do with race and everything to do with NOT creating an advantage for corruption politics in the form of Breed/Conway. Breed was said to receive payoffs by a few corrupt city hacks in the form of “untraceable gift cards”
    Enough of Willy Brown Ed Lee Gavin Newsom this city needs an honest mayor not Breed.

  • Linda Goldfine

    Go Mark!

  • Patti Solomon

    again a story not including Angela Alioto who is running… my response to a friend that asked me to support London- Thank you for your post..and I am sure as we make plans – God laughs- but I am certain he loves us all. None of us are perfect- and anyone who is making that effort to truly help someone I will always have respect for. But my experience so far with the unlimited help through the years after I left city hall, with Angela, is unwavering. She helped me when she didn’t have too while I was in Arizona with constituents that still called me after leaving MONS. Even yesterday, we needed help for a constituent and after going through the process at City Hall- again Angela took the time and helped a homeless constituent yesterday; I am just a person who like you prays, and listens to what God asks me to do. WE NEED a woman 🙂 And I am sure that the right person will win. And hopefully, like I truly believe and say- There is plenty of room at the table- for everyone. When Gavin won he showed me that – even though Angela ran against him – he knew she (because of her work with the homeless) was the right person to lead the committee of the ten-year plan. This was the policy of Project Homeless Connect that has been implemented in over 574 cities. I have worked at two others on the Board. One in Phoenix, Arizona and now in Missoula, Montana. Because of her willingness to get this done- spoke volumes…does anyone else have that record yet? I think not. But I do respect London and I will pray that her heart is not hurt. Because I would never want to see another strong woman be treated unfairly. That being said- I have to go with my gut. What is in my heart- in fact “Straight Through the Heart ” Much love and respect to you and yours.

    • Wagnerian_thrice

      No love for the “Vice Mayoress”.

      • Patti Solomon

        I like London- and I have worked at City Hall so I know how fast things change. So just because I am supporting a woman that I feel is more qualified this time around- doesn’t mean that there would not be a time in the future, to support London; should we walk on the same path. Right now I am sure with all my heart that Angela Alioto is the best person- so sure that its “Straight through the heart” . That is a book you should read. 🙂

        • Wagnerian_thrice

          No thanks.

          • Patti Solomon

            okie dokie- its going to be one of those Mayoral races- that its my way or the high way….that is okay. I have heard it before..

    • Good Vibes Only

      Beautifully and intelligently stated.

      • Patti Solomon

        thank you.

  • why102111

    Why is it viewed by so many that having a white male as our mayor is unconscionable on the basis of his race alone? Especially after an Asian male and Black male have held the same post in recent years? Feels to me like it’s been pretty balanced.

  • Curious

    And people still ask why Obama was not impeached ……

  • Lynn Craig

    Has anyone recalled that Diane Feinstein was named interim mayor when George Moscone was assassinated, and she was president of the board of supervisors? I certainly don’t recall any uproar over her serving out Moscone’s term. How is this situation any different?

    • Whamadoodle

      If she got an unfair boost over the other candidates, then she shouldn’t have either. (PS: only about 15% of San Franciscans are over 65, so the vast majority of the people you’re talking to out there weren’t even of voting age when Feinstein took over for Moscone after his death.)

      • Lynn Craig

        Not sure what the age of SF voters has to do with it. If it was procedurally correct for Finestein to serve as interim mayor, then that shouldn’t have changed in the past 50+ years. Seems as if this is strictly a political power grab within the board of sups and circumvents the city charter.

        • Whamadoodle

          What the age of SF voters has to do with it is that Feinstein’s interim mayoralty is ancient history that nobody here had anything to do with, which doesn’t pertain to the present day at all. Although if she did get an unfair boost, then she shouldn’t have been given that boost either. The fact that a wrong was done to give her that (if it was) doesn’t mean we should privilege London Breed over any other candidate now.

          And no, it doesn’t “circumvent the city charter”–the Board’s right to name an interim mayor is written INTO the city charter. It’s law. What city charter are you reading?

    • Objective and Nonpartisan

      As long as Dianne Feinstein has been in office, *some* people still don’t know how to spell her first name. There are two n’s in Dianne. Attention to detail.

      • Lynn Craig

        LOL! I’m sure DiaNne would appreciate that – she is quite a stickler for detail. On the other hand, I long ago gave myself permission to make mistakes .

  • HH Smith

    According to KQED, it’s always about racism. “White men” is a currently a pejorative term in our culture, but it’s NOT racist if it’s about people who are white, correct, KQED? So, maybe KQED now should direct its fundraising efforts toward London Breed and her followers? What about the largest ethnic group in S.F., the Asians? Didn’t Lee have some long associations with rich Asian developers with questionable pasts? And, even left-wing “progressive” pols in S.F. could see that Breed is a defective individual not fit for the office. But all in all, my former city gets dumber and dumber by the minute.

  • virgil

    I want a mayoral candidate that realizes there is a solution to the homeless crisis and nut cases that roam our streets: Soylent Green https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e0a943cea362ed824288c11201ad67704f4d5ceb0caf3ddb7bef6de0bcf48ae.jpg

  • Tech Author

    I used to like Jane Kim, but when she’s willing to throw other minorities under the bus in support of a white, male VC. I can never support her. She’s trash.

  • Constitutionalist56

    Every liberal city with a black mayor is in a dangerous state of decline and corruption. Pandering for minority votes is criminal and results in the epidemic of hepatitis and unsupervised camp fires that the homeless have created. Welcome to your own creations. Hope you like them.

    • Objective and Nonpartisan

      Rubbish. The District of Columbia is doing quite well in its own wealthy context. They have a Black mayor (Mayor Bowser) and she’s running for re-election. Many District residents seem to like her. Just like in San Francisco, many District residents are being gentrified out of the District, some into Maryland and Virginia. It’s becoming more and more expensive to live there. So the District does not fit your prejudiced statement.

      • Constitutionalist56

        Crime is through the roof there and they hide that fact from deluded dems like you.

  • Objective and Nonpartisan

    In San Francisco, it has long been the case that the word “moderate” is code language for a conservative to hide their draconian agenda. That’s what these fake-moderates are. Time to tell it like it is. Stop repeating the language they use to describe themselves. That serves no one’s purpose other than their own conservative agenda. And we don’t have a democracy. The government in San Francisco is no different than the government at the federal level. Owned by corporations. It’s an Oligarchy. In San Francisco, the Oligarchy is owned by the Predatory Tech and Real Estate Industrial Complexes, et al.. Billionaires. Didn’t we end up with the disaster known as Ed Lee (the empty puppet of the real mayor Ron Conway) because of some stupid back room dealings from these fake-progressives — they’re really just Establishments Democrats….nothing genuinely progressive there! — that Art Agnos is going on about? Ugh.

Author

Scott Shafer

Scott Shafer migrated to KQED in 1998 after extended stints in politics and government to host The California  Report. Now he covers those things and more as senior editor for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk. When he’s not asking questions you’ll often find him in a pool playing water polo. Find him on Twitter @scottshafer

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