SAN FRANCISCO — (AP) — A former interim mayor of San Francisco announced Tuesday he's running for his previous job, joining a competitive field of candidates who say the city has crumbled under the watch of Mayor London Breed, who is up for reelection this year.
Mark Farrell served as interim mayor of San Francisco from January to July 2018, when Breed was elected to finish the term of Ed Lee, who died in office. The lawyer and former city supervisor said he had not planned to return to politics but feels he has the right skills to turn San Francisco around.
“It is really painful to watch the city you love and you grew up in maligned across the globe," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. He has scheduled a press conference for later Tuesday morning.
Breed, the first Black woman to lead San Francisco, was reelected in 2019 to a full term that has lasted five years since voters changed the election calendar to line up with presidential contests. There is no traditional March primary. Instead, all the contenders will appear on the November ballot and voters will rank them by preference.
“Polls show she is going to have a very difficult reelection,” Eric Jaye, a veteran Democratic political consultant, said of Breed's chances. “Her challenge is that voters in San Francisco are in a pretty sour mood ... and they want to hold someone responsible.”
Jaye is not working for any of the candidates this cycle but in previous mayoral races, his communications firm has represented moderate and progressive candidates in San Francisco and San Jose.
San Francisco has a reputation of upholding progressive politics, but the four major candidates, including Farrell and Breed, are considered centrist Democrats in that they generally favor police and business interests.
The other primary candidates are Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and Daniel Lurie, a philanthropist and heir to Levi Strauss.
While she's not on the March 5 ballot, Breed is pushing a pair of public safety proposals that are.
Proposition E would give police the power to use drones and surveillance cameras, among other policy changes. The other item on the ballot, Proposition F, would require adults on welfare who are addicted to illegal drugs to receive treatment in exchange for cash assistance.
Critics say the ballot measures are not in line with San Francisco voters who value privacy over surveillance and encouraging rather than mandating participating in drug treatment programs.
Lurie is also raising money for Breed’s Prop. E — while arguing Breed should have done more earlier in her term. Safaí calls the proposition racist, as racial minorities are already overpoliced.
Farrell, who also supports the measure, says if elected, he will be aggressive in beefing up police staffing, clearing all large tent encampments and providing incentives for businesses to bring downtown workers back to the office.
Lurie leads in fundraising with nearly $4 million, including $1 million from his mother Miriam Haas to a political action committee backing his campaign. Haas is a business person whose late husband was the great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss.
Meanwhile, political action committees supporting Breed have raised $1.3 million, including $200,000 from Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor. Safaí has raised just over $300,000.
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