Lee responds to upcoming interim mayoral vote

January 7, 2011 10:33:39 AM PST
San Francisco's Board of supervisors will try once again Friday to select someone to fill the remaining year of Mayor Gavin Newsom's term, and the Asian-American community is celebrating what it hopes will be a historic decision.

Asian-Americans make up about one-third of San Francisco's population, but the top job in the city has been elusive -- until now.

"Finally today we have this within sight, the first Chinese mayor," community activist Rose Pak said.

Ed Lee is currently the city's administrator in charge of numerous departments and he has emerged as the top candidate of most supervisors. The 58-year-old is out of the country, but in a statement released on Thursday, he said, "If appointed, I pledge to spend my energies to balance the budget, create jobs, and make our city more financially secure."

At a gathering in Chinatown, community leaders displayed a show of support directed at some progressive supervisors who are not supporting lee.

Asian-American leaders say a building in San Francisco is symbol of Lee's progressive roots. They say years ago while working with the Asian Law Caucus, he organized tenant strikes and helped transform deplorable living conditions.

"I think sometimes the progressives have forgotten all he's done and where he's come from," community activist Dale Minami said.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi says it's not about Lee, but about the process. At first, the votes at Tuesday's board meeting were tied for Lee and Sheriff Mike Hennessey.

"Supervisors Dufty and Maxwell were summoned to the Mayor's Office. We don't know what transpired and all of a sudden minds were changed," he said.

Both San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Dufty insist there was no backroom deal.

"It's an offensive assertion," Newsom said.

"I've got nothing coming my way out of this thing," Dufty said.

The supervisors are scheduled to vote again Friday. Any decision is non-binding until Newsom leaves office.