SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The first black female mayor of San Francisco made history Wednesday as she took the oath of office, vowing to help drug users and the homeless in a city that has come to embody extreme wealth and poverty.
In her inauguration speech, London Breed promised to build more housing in a city that has a woefully inadequate supply for the number of high-paying tech-related jobs it creates.
“The politics of ‘no’ has plagued our city far too long. Not on my block, not in my backyard,” the new mayor said. “I plan to change the politics of ‘no’ to the politics of ‘yes.’”
She also pledged to stand by immigrants fearing crackdowns from President Donald Trump’s administration and small-business owners struggling to get by in an expensive city.
Breed, 43, grew up in public housing and frequently talks about the tough love and support she had growing up, especially from her grandmother who raised her. She learned from mentors and neighbors who spotted potential early on and encouraged her to study hard. Now, she will earn an annual salary of $335,996.
“I stand at this podium today because a community believed in me. Because our city services looked out for me,” she said Wednesday. “Here in the city of St. Francis, we support one another.”
She promised to pay that forward, with opportunities for other impoverished children that will help them advance.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, administered Breed’s oath on the steps of City Hall before at least 1,000 spectators.
Chinese lion dancers and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus entertained the crowd, reflecting the diversity the city is known for. A black reverend and female rabbi jointly provided the invocation.
Afterward, Breed planned to meet well-wishers in her new office as part of an open house tradition that dates back a century.
Jeanette Dupas-Walker, a cousin of Breed’s mother, roused two grandchildren early Wednesday to see their older cousin take the oath of office.
“I am so proud of London I don’t know what to do. Every time I think about the accomplishments that she has made, it brings tears of joy,” she said.
Breed is a Democrat, as is just about everybody in public office in San Francisco, which has a population of 870,000 and is about 6 percent black, one of the smallest percentages among major U.S. cities. And both numbers are dwindling.
Breed succeeds Mayor Ed Lee, whose unexpected death in December prompted a special June election to serve the remainder of his term. She must run again in November 2019 if she wants a full four-year term.
She is only the second woman to serve as mayor. The first was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who welcomed her in a video message.
“I know you have the passion, determination and grit to address our city’s problems and take us to new heights,” Feinstein said.
Breed will talk with residents in a tradition that started in 1916 with Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Jr. inside a newly completed City Hall, said Bill Barnes, spokesman for the city administrator’s office. The old building had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Breed earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s in public administration from the University of San Francisco.