City Administrator Ed Lee, who is suddenly at the very center of a classic San Francisco food fight despite being 7,000 miles away, said in a statement today that he would accept the position of Interim Mayor should the Board of Supervisors vote him into office tomorrow.
Lee issued his statement through the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, which held a press conference in support of his candidacy:
"I am honored to be considered for the position of Interim Mayor. The Mayor, various supervisors and members of the public have approached me about serving in this position. I love this city, and will agree to serve as Mayor, if that is the will of the Board of Supervisors. And I agree to do this on behalf of the people of San Francisco that I have served for over 30 years.
Our collective challenge clear (sic). We must balance the City's budget without jeopardizing the social services our people depend on. Fundamentally, it is our responsibility to address the budget shortfall and set a path for reviving the local economy. If appointed, I pledge to spend my energies to balance the budget, create jobs, and make our City more financially secure. And, I will do my best to accomplish these goals without disrupting basic city services."
In addition to publicizing Lee's willingness to become mayor, about 10 people spoke in support of Lee, now traveling in the Far East. The speakers included people from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinatown Community Development Center, as well as other prominent players in the Chinese-American community.
Rose Pak, a consultant for the Chamber and an influential political activist, said that the event was held to counter attacks from progressive politicians like Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin, and to tout Lee's progressive credentials.
Here's a clip of Pak taking aim at the progressive bloc:
As far as the outcome of the political turmoil related to who will succeed Newsom, Pak said that Lee's accession to the office is a "done deal."
On a side note, Pak told KQED's Tara Siler that Board Supervisor David Chiu turned down the appointment as San Francisco D.A. today because he is going to run for mayor.
Such effusions might just be colorful San Francisco trash talk. But KQED's Scott Shafer wrote just yesterday of Pak's clout. From his News Fix post:
Lee is a protege of Chinatown dynamo Rose Pak. The foul-mouthed political activist ("mother f...er" is one of her favorite expletives) wields a heavy club in city politics. The former SF Chronicle reporter is also close to Willie Brown, who despite being out of office for seven years, still pulls a lot of strings in city politics.
You can be sure Lee wouldn't be on the verge of being mayor without the blessings of Pak and Brown.
If Lee does emerge at the end of this process as the One (he still has to be ratified by the incoming board even if he wins a vote by the current supes), he will become San Francisco's first Asian-American mayor, joining Jean Quan in the exclusive cross-Bay Chinese-American chief executive club. Even if a Lee mayoralty never materializes, both Leland Yee and Phil Ting have announced their candidacies for the post, ensuring a strong Chinese-American presence in the race.
Apropos of this trend, Mina Kim of KQED reported last month on the newfound political clout of Bay Area Asian Americans.