San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died suddenly Tuesday morning. He was 65.
According to a brief press release published by CBS, officials said that Lee passed away at 1:11 a.m. local time on Tuesday, December 12 at San Francisco General Hospital. The statement read, “It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.”
Lee was reportedly surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues at the time of his passing. His cause of death was not immediately released.
In accordance with the City Charter, Board of Supervisors President London Breed has become Acting Mayor of San Francisco, effective immediately.
Mayor of San Francisco
When then-San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was elected Lieutenant Governor in January 2011, Ed Lee was appointed to serve out the remainder of Newsom’s term. He became the city’s first Asian-American mayor and was elected by voters to stay on in that role in November of that year. He won a second term in 2015.
Lee is the third San Francisco mayor to die while in office. George Moscone was assassinated by former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Dan White in 1978 and James Otis died of diphtheria in 1875.
Advocacy and political beginnings
Born in Seattle, Lee moved to the Bay Area to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley. While a student, Lee interned at the Asian Law Caucus, at which time he represented residents of a public housing complex that were “fed up with unsafe and unsanitary conditions” in the first tenant rent strike against the San Francisco Housing Authority. He then worked as a civil rights attorney, frequently representing low-income tenants.
In 1989, Lee was hired by then-San Francisco mayor Art Agnos as a “‘whistle-blower’ investigator in charge of helping expose corruption.” He was also made director of the Human Rights Commission by Agnos.
In addition to becoming the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco, Lee has been a leader on immigration issues. Under Lee, San Francisco has taken part in the Sanctuary City movement, by which cities limit cooperation with the federal government to enforce immigration law.
According to the Office of the Mayor, San Francisco has added more than 140,000 jobs and more than 17,000 homes during Lee’s tenure. He has also fought to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and chronic homelessness and was involved in founding Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a coalition of city leaders that applies political and economic pressure to stop discriminatory laws from spreading in the United States.