Mayor London Breed gets along with her governor. But her ‘heart goes out to’ city leaders who don’t

April 29, 2020, 9:30 PM UTC
Michael Short/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Mayor London Breed took decisive action to lock down San Francisco in February before the city had a single confirmed case of the coronavirus. But she says she was lucky to have the support of California’s governor—and that her “heart goes out to” peers like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who have sparred with state leadership.

“She is an incredible person and doing a great job despite the circumstances,” Breed said of Bottoms, who has questioned Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen nonessential businesses in the state. “We are fortunate to be in California, to have Gov. Gavin Newsom because he’s a San Franciscan.”

Breed joined Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women community via video chat on Wednesday to talk to female business leaders about navigating the crisis. Breed is sheltering in place at her own home while deciding the future of her city’s shelter-in-place orders; she joins Newsom and 12 other California city mayors for regular phone calls. “We expected the challenges that continue to exist with the federal government, but we are fortunate we are not in a similar situation as other cities,” she says of Republican-Democratic and city-state disagreements.

A self-avowed reluctant vegetable eater, Breed is getting her nutrition from a local juice shop and relaxing by taking walks and watching the Netflix series Tiger King. She shares those details for a reason; her own experience informs how she plans to eventually reopen the city. Could nonessential businesses, like local clothing boutiques, begin operating by adopting the pickup and delivery-only guidelines currently limited to establishments like Breed’s local juice shop? It’s all on the table—although Breed says she won’t do anything that risks “rolling back the gains we’ve made” because the coronavirus curve can “shoot up out of nowhere.”

Even though Breed’s early action—informed, she says, by public health professionals and the decisions of the Bay Area’s tech giants, who were immersed in the coronavirus crisis earlier through their offices outside the U.S.—is now widely seen as prescient, she understands that telling people not to leave their homes doesn’t make her the most beloved figure. “The mayor’s not always popular,” she says. “But I can’t let that consume me.”

More on the most powerful women in business from Fortune:

—How Global 500 companies are responding to the coronavirus
14% of women considered quitting their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic
—Why Mrs. America and the 1970s fight over the ERA are more relevant than ever
—Inside Lyft’s coronavirus response team
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: The double burdens that hold women back

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