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Politics & Policy

Mayor Breed kicks off reelection campaign, drop-kicks foes

Mayor London Breed in a white dress is on stage at a political event under a spotlight, waving next to "Mayor London Breed" signs and balloons.
Mayor London Breed speaks to a crowd of hundreds to announce her reelection campaign inside the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco on Saturday. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

Everyone seeking elected office leans into a narrative to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, but Mayor London Breed’s reelection campaign message could be especially difficult: convincing people San Francisco is on the upswing.

Inside a packed auditorium at The Fillmore on Saturday—campaign officials reported approximately 750 people in attendance—Breed strutted onto the stage to “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child in a wedding day-white embroidered jumper. She argued that the city’s challenges may be daunting, but San Francisco has already shown what it can achieve in recent months.

“People want you to think that things aren’t turning around,” Breed said. “People want you to think that all of a sudden we cleaned up the city for APEC, or we cleaned up the city for an election. You don’t just snap your fingers and black magic happens.”

A crowd of joyful people, many wearing yellow hats, holds up signs supporting Mayor London Breed, in a well-lit indoor setting.
More than a hundred Asian seniors attended Mayor London Breed’s official reelection campaign kickoff, waving signs and giving standing ovations at times. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

The history books—or, more likely, the Wikipedias of the future—will note that Breed also led San Francisco through the global pandemic, locking the city down before any other place in the country to curtail the deadly spread of Covid. 

“Those guys that are running against me, they want you to believe that this city is messed up. … Their whole message is predicated on what’s bad and making us feel bad about ourselves, and saying that this city has lost its way,” Breed said. “That whole message is to speak down on San Francisco. And while they’re speaking down on San Francisco, I’m lifting San Francisco up!”

The twists and turns that led Breed to the Mayor’s Office required a unique coalition that bridged gaps in race and political priorities, and Saturday’s crowd reflected that eclectic support on top of a diverse cast of speakers that preceded Breed on stage as former San Francisco Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon emceed.

Off to the side of the chandeliered ballroom, guests snacked on donuts and coffee while Breed’s campaign gave out buttons and distributed “London Breed” T-shirts in exchange for $25 campaign donations.

Two people behind a stall handing out yellow stickers and t-shirts with "Mayor London Breed" printed on them to visitors.
Matt Adams, left, and Cris Azzola hand out merchandise at Mayor London Breed’s official reelection campaign kickoff at The Fillmore. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

Rousing speeches included passionate words from actor Danny Glover, local artist and influencer Jasmin Corley, NorCal carpenters union boss Jay Bradshaw and Valerie Tulier-Laiwa of the Latino Task Force. The list of elected officials in attendance included former Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. Scott Wiener, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Joaquin Torres, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto and Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Joel Engardio and Matt Dorsey. 

Most of the speakers focused their remarks on Breed’s unique backstory, as well as her administration’s work in the early days of the pandemic. 

“We had to close the city,” said Larry Yee, a city police commissioner who also directly spoke to more than 100 Chinese American elders in the crowd in their native tongue. “It was a very tough decision, but it saved lives.”

Winning a special election in 2018, almost seven months after the unexpected death of Mayor Ed Lee, Breed has now been in office roughly six years. She officially won a first term in 2019 and then saw a ballot measure kick the mayor’s race from 2023 to this year.

This extended time in office has opened the door for an onslaught of criticism against Breed. Concerns about public safety—from property crime and street-level drug use to dangerous intersections and attacks on Asian seniors—have become top of mind for many voters, while solving the issues of housing and homelessness remain as daunting as ever.

Mayor London Breed in a white patterned dress jumper into a microphone, passionately raising her fist, with festive gold and blue balloons in the background.
Mayor London Breed spoke proudly about growing up in public housing in San Francisco and touted her record in office during the Covid pandemic. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

The mayor noted that violent crime, retail theft and car break-ins have all come down “significantly” this year, but she took a moment to acknowledge—perhaps with the arguments of recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin in mind—that the data doesn’t matter to victims.

“Hey, look, I understand if it happens to you, numbers don’t matter,” Breed said. “And that’s why we’re going to continue to invest in making sure that we have not only community ambassadors and people helping to keep the streets safe, we’re going to continue to invest to have a fully staffed police department in San Francisco.”

Stormy Henry, a Black woman who grew up in the same public housing as Breed, said she has been inspired by the mayor’s “resilience,” from coming into office after Lee’s unexpected death to managing the pandemic.

“She’s risen to the occasion every time,” Henry said, adding that the pandemic forced the mayor to shelve other policy priorities. “When you have six-year-old problems that were before her time, you cannot blame Breed.”

The mayor’s ability to make progress in the coming months—whether it be real or simply perceived—will be vital to securing a second term. Perhaps chief among the challenges will be showing progress on the downtown recovery, which has moved at the speed of molasses compared to the other major cities as corruption scandals at City Hall continue at a steady drip.

Breed championed her 30×30 plan, which seeks to bring 30,000 new residents and students downtown by 2030 through a combination of new college campuses and converting commercial towers into residential buildings.

“We don’t have time for the foolery,” Breed said. “We don’t have time for folks who have no idea what it means to actually run a city.”