Lee readies for full term
After being sworn in to a full four-year term Sunday, January 8, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee plans to focus on job creation and making the city even more of a draw internationally for businesses and tourists in his inaugural speech.
The two goals are key parts of Lee’s strategy to deal with another looming budget deficit, last estimated to be $263 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and ensure the city’s unemployment rate continues to drop. It fell by 1.7 percent in 2011 to stand at 7.8 percent as of November.
During an interview with the Bay Area Reporter last month just before the Christmas holiday, Lee predicted there would be few surprises in his speech.
"I think, clearly, I will have a message to share with people a little bit about what this year has been like. Then I will spend more time forward looking on what we want to do in the city," said Lee, who defeated more than a dozen opponents in the November election.
He is considering ideas on how to build more affordable housing, particularly for middle-income people, and said seeking a bond measure this year is on the table. Reforming the city’s payroll tax is another top agenda item, as is launching a program to help property owners seismically upgrade their buildings.
"We are thinking through those things as we speak," said Lee, adding he wants to create a $5 million small business loan program aimed at the city’s neighborhood business corridors.
Due to his having been appointed last January to the position, following Gavin Newsom’s resignation to become the state’s lieutenant governor, Lee won’t have the usual honeymoon period most new mayors are granted when they assume office.
Having broken his word that he wouldn’t seek City Hall’s Room 200 permanently, Lee enters 2012 facing a potentially more acrimonious relationship with the Board of Supervisors. A majority either tried to oust him from office in the election or backed one of his opponents.
Lee already has been meeting with supervisors to mend fences and find common ground - and projects - they can work on together.
"I think we are going about the business of the city," said Lee, 59.
While neither of the city’s two openly gay supervisors backed Lee in the race, both said they believe the board and mayor will be able to put the campaign behind them and get back to work this month.
"I don’t see why not. We are all professionals," said District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who endorsed District 11 Supervisor John Avalos for mayor. "We are all grown-ups. At the end of the day whatever differences we may have, we will put those aside and focus on what is best for the city. The campaign is over and now it is time to focus on governing the city."
Campos said the first step is to make sure the mayor has a "good working relationship" with the board.
"There are many of us on the board who want to do that," he said. "I have every expectation he will."