Many San Francisco residents were frustrated by the Board of Supervisors’ decision last Tuesday when Interim Mayor London Breed, the first African American woman to lead the city, was replaced by white, venture capitalist Mark Farrell.
After hours of emotional and politically charged testimony, Farrell was elected interim mayor with a 6-3 vote on Jan. 23. Breed was originally elected interim mayor after the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee in December. Farrell will now be the third mayor San Francisco has seen in the past six weeks and will remain in office until the June 5 mayoral election.
“It’s been an honor to serve the City during this dificult time,” Breed tweeted after being replaced by Farrell as mayor. “I have a vision for an inclusive and fair San Francisco, and will keep working every day on the important issues we face: homelessness, housing, and public safety.”
The Board of Supervisors’ decision to appoint Farrell as interim mayor was intended to remove any political advantage Breed might have received during her time as acting major. The board wanted to create an equal playing field for all candidates, including Breed, before appointing a permanent major in the June election.
A majority of Breed’s supporters disagree with the board’s decision and believe underlying racism and sexism play a part in her removal. A San Francisco native who grew up in public housing, Breed embodies the progressive ideologies of many San Francisco residents.
“My initial reaction was typical and frankly very disturbing,” said David Jaulux, a recent SF State political science graduate. “The whole establishment is being run by white, rich men.”
The board’s decision to replace Breed with District 2 Supervisor Farrell is clearly not due to lack of experience. Breed has been the president of the Board of Supervisors for the past three years and has worked closely with the mayor and the mayor’s sta .
On the other hand, Farrell represents some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, such as the Marina District. He demonstrates a tougher approach when it comes to issues concerning homelessness. For example, Farrell sponsored a bill on the November 2016 ballot that would ban tent encampments from all sidewalks in the city.
“I think the decision was more of a strategic move,” said Jhorna Islam, an International Relations major at SF State. “I think there are racial issues, but it’s mostly just politics.”
According to the SF Chronicle, Farrell is committed to fulfilling Mayor Lee’s goal of increasing affordable housing, even during his short term as mayor. The biggest impact Farrell will make as interim mayor is finding his replacement for District 2 Supervisor. Rumored names include Farrell’s friend Michela Alioto-Pier, Planning Commission member Rodney Fong and county clerk Catherine Stefani.
A major concern held by Breed supporters is that Farrell’s role as a wealthy venture capitalist. On top of being a district supervisor, Farrell works at Thayer Ventures, a business that invest in tech companies. Many have concerns that a mayor like Farrell, who supports large tech corporations can have serious implications to the low- income communities Breed has worked tirelessly to protect.
“A black woman who grew up in public housing, has been overthrown as interim Mayor of San Francisco by men who are worried an interim mayorship would give Breed an incumbency advantage when she runs in June,” tweeted Shannon Watts, a progressive, community organizer of Moms Demand Action, which is a grassroot organization working to end gun violence.