Mayor Mark Farrell (left) looks around the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank with Executive Director Paul Ash. (Chloe Veltman/KQED)
Mark Farrell’s days as San Francisco’s mayor are now drawing to an end. But it could be a few weeks before his successor takes office, as the city sorts through a very tight race between former state Sen. Mark Leno and Supervisor London Breed in the June 5 primary ranked-choice voting mayoral election.
First, the mayor-elect must be certified by the Department of Elections. Then the Board of Supervisors has to approve the appointment.
At an event held Wednesday at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, Farrell said that in the meantime he will continue to work hard for San Francisco’s residents and is committed to ensuring a smooth transition.
"We have a room set aside within City Hall for transition teams for whoever is the mayor-elect," Farrell said. "We want to make sure that whenever they assume office, they can hit the ground running on day one."
Farrell said he anticipates an inauguration day of July 11 for the new mayor, though that date is subject to change.
During his six months in office, Farrell said he focused on three major issues facing San Francisco residents: homelessness, public safety and street cleanliness.
Farrell said he is particularly proud of his efforts to bolster the city's Police Department. He said he spent the first four months of his time as mayor working with Police Chief William Scott to help San Francisco residents feel safer.
"For a long time, there would be car break-ins or other property crimes and people feeling very unsafe in our own city," Farrell said. "And so we worked incredibly hard together and came up with a staffing plan to add 250 more officers."
Farrell said as a result of his efforts, he expects San Francisco's police force to grow by 130 officers over the next year, with 120 additional officers coming on board over the next four years.
The mayor also cited his effort to combat the city's opioid crisis as a win for his short tenure at the city's helm. He said he worked with the Department of Public Health to implement street teams.
"You go out on the streets to engage with those that are suffering from opioid abuse and try get them into a state of mind where they will come and see a doctor," Farrell said. "I think that's going to have a significant impact not only on those individuals, but on the cleanliness of our streets as well."
However, Farrell acknowledged the challenges of bringing about change during his short time in office. "It is, at the end of the day, a more limited horizon than if you had a four-year term in office."
One project Farrell said he wasn't able to follow through on was the implementation of safe injection sites for drug users. Farrell said his efforts in this regard were hampered by legal setbacks at the federal level.
"We need to work through these legal issues before we can implement the safe injection sites, and that's going to take a little while longer," Farrell said. "That was something I really wanted to do in office. But time's not going to allow that to happen."
Though he said he plans to return to his investment firm job and spend more time with his family after his tenure as mayor ends, Farrell does not discount the possibility of running for political office again one day.
"Never say never about the future," he said. "But my focus is on our children right now."
Farrell's successor will serve for the remainder of what would have been Lee's full term -- through Jan. 8, 2020. He or she would then be eligible to serve two consecutive four-year terms as mayor.