Controversy erupts in San Francisco as board ousts Black interim mayor

Stacy Brown NNPA Newswire Contributor | 2/1/2018, midnight
During a contentious public meeting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted..

During a contentious public meeting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted recently to appoint Mark Farrell, a White venture capitalist, to serve as acting mayor. The vote stripped London Breed of those powers, who was the first African American woman to serve in that role. Critics of the board’s actions—inside and outside of the city—alleged that the vote was tainted by racism and discrimination.

Breed rose to national prominence, after she was named interim mayor of San Francisco, when Ed Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, died of a heart attack last December.

Amelia Ashley-Ward, a long-time resident of San Francisco and owner of the Sun-Reporter Publishing Company, said that she was surprised to see so many “White progressives lining up” during the city hall meeting, before the vote, to express concerns about Breed holding the two power positions—interim mayor and president of the board of supervisors—while running to become the next mayor of the city.

“Perhaps San Francisco isn’t as progressive as some people like to think, said Ashley-Ward. “I think that she was double-crossed by some of her colleagues on that board, who might have promised to support her.”

However, according to the San Francisco Examiner, temporarily serving as acting mayor and board president is not a conflict of interest.

“It is precisely what the voters established in the charter; it is common democratic practice; and it has been happening for the past six weeks, not to the detriment of city stability, but to its benefit,” the Examiner said.

The Examiner continued: “San Francisco mayors and boards always overlap. Mayor Lee appointed two of the board’s current members. The City Charter gives the mayor authority to join and speak at any board meeting. And supervisors serve as acting mayor all the time, occasionally signing their own legislation.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association called the San Francisco board of supervisors’ vote a “non-progressive and backward decision” and speculated that some board members may have been motivated by race and gender bias.

Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group, said that she was highly disturbed by the actions of the board of supervisors.

“This vote has national implications for African Americans everywhere that aspire to serve in public office, said Leavell. “As chairman of the NNPA, I condemn [the board’s vote]. I strongly encourage everyone to support London Breed’s campaign to become the next mayor of San Francisco.”

Leavell continued: “The Black voters need to come out in large numbers. People who aren’t registered to vote, need to register. Those who can give time, need to give time.”

Ashley-Ward said that Breed is one of the most qualified candidates in the race.

“She is very capable and that’s what frightened her opponents,” said Ashley-Ward.

Unabashedly outspoken, the 43-year-old Breed said that she was raised on the hard knock streets of the Fillmore District, just southwest of Nob Hill.