Local officials remember San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee as 'kind, compassionate'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The humble public servant who became the city's 43rd mayor suffered cardiac arrest late last night, and passed away early this morning. Tuesday, San Franciscans are mourning the death of the first Asian-American mayor of a major U.S. City.

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Mayor Edwin Lee passed away early Tuesday morning at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Supervisors President London Breed, now acting mayor, made the official announcement late Tuesday morning. But those at San Francisco City Hall were already mourning.

Breed held meetings with the mayor's staff and department heads before her news conference.

Their tributes had a common thread, common words to describe what most called "a kind, gentleman."

"I'm drawn to the kind of leader that's nice. Ed Lee was nice," said San Francisco Rec and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

"He was a mayor who led through compassion, who was an incredibly kind person who led with humbleness," said San Francisco Assesor Carmen Chu.

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"Ed Lee always had an open door for any of us," said Lynn Westry of the San Francisco Public Health Department. "We could call him at any time. That's unique."

Lee came up from humble beginnings. He grew up in public housing. His father was a veteran. His mother was a seamstress. He never forgot his roots.

"Stood up for immigrants. Stood up for people," said attorney Christine Pelosi. "Never forgot who he was, where he came from."

"He was quiet, laid back, low key, knew what he needed to do to get the job done," said Shawn Richard of Brothers Against Guns.

His priorities, mourners said, were housing, homelessness, jobs, and minimum wage. Lee had many political battles in his three decades of public service.

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"Opponents may have disagreed with him on policy, but everyone agrees that our mayor was a good man with a good heart," said Acting Mayor London Breed.

And at the end of one's life you wan to hear only this, "That he was a good, decent, honorable man," said Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. "And this was a good, decent, and honorable guy."

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