Skip to main content
Politics & Policy

Supervisor Aaron Peskin says he’s definitely not running for mayor: ‘I’m afraid of winning’

San Francisco Supervisor points at someone during the Chinatown Media & Arts Collaborative in San Francisco on Aug. 17, 2023.
Aaron Peskin, the president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, has long been rumored to be mulling a mayoral run. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has a message for progressive supporters hoping he’ll run for mayor in November: hard pass.

“I’m not afraid of running,” said Aaron Peskin in an interview on Thursday. “I’m not afraid of losing. I’m afraid of winning.”

Indeed, whoever wins the top job at City Hall next year will enter a world of hurt. The city’s budget deficit is expected to reach $489 million in 2025 and by 2027, that number could climb as high as $1.4 billion

Peskin also rattled off some other challenges he’s not eager to meet, like dealing with the glut of vacant office space that’s dragging down Downtown’s economic fortunes and contending with the enormous sums of money that moderate-leaning political actors have pledged to spend this cycle.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who is eligible for one more full term but faces weak polling numbers, is being challenged by two moderate-leaning candidates in Supervisor Asha Safaí and nonprofit executive Daniel Lurie. While several other challengers have also thrown their hats in the race, there is at present no standard-bearer for the political left.

In October, Peskin stated that allies were urging him to run. But now the longtime South End Rowing Club swimmer is throwing some cold bay water on that dream. 

A longtime leader of the city’s progressive wing, Peskin is currently in his fourth term as supervisor, representing District 3, which covers the Financial District, Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Nob Hill and Russian Hill. Having initially held the seat from 2001 until 2009, serving as president during his entire second term, he later unseated a mayoral appointee before winning another two full terms. 

By the time he leaves office in January 2025, he will have been a supervisor for more than 17 of the prior 24 years. Reflecting on his current position, Peskin seems dismayed, comparing the current atmosphere with earlier, chummier days. 

“In my first tour of duty, I forged personal relationships with my colleagues, some of which have lasted to this day,” he said. “The board of 2000, it’d be like, ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea.’ And it’d be one-for-all, all-for-one. It ain’t like that now.”

It is possible, of course, that Peskin’s latest disavowal of ambitions to higher office is a feint. In January 2023, the board’s 11 members struggled to find consensus and elect a president, going through 17 rounds of voting before Peskin emerged as the surprise winner.

“This was not on my list of things to do today,” Peskin said at the time.

Any indecisive would-be candidates out there still have time to throw their hats in the ring, as San Francisco’s mayoral race will not be on the March 5 primary ballot. The deadline to declare for the race is June 11, which gives Peskin’s mayoral boosters another five and a half months to change the supervisor’s mind.

Astrid Kane can be reached at