By Dr. Julianne Malveaux


San Francisco Mayor London Breed is running for reelection on November 5. She is being challenged by a cabal of men who all think they can do a better job. Their candidacies and the rhetoric around them are consistent with the attacks Black women have been experiencing nationally in the last year or so.

There are more than six months between now and the election, and many will think it is too early to concentrate on the mayor’s race. But it is never too early to focus when a sister is under attack. And the machinations of ranked-choice voting remind us that we must be organized early on, educate voters, and build momentum toward November 5.

Mayor Breed deserves to be celebrated, not challenged. She is the first African American woman to lead San Francisco, standing on the shoulders of both the late Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was the first woman mayor of the city (1978-1988), and the Honorable Willie Brown, the first Black mayor (1996-2004). Mayor Breed steered San Francisco through COVID-19, and the city had the lowest death rate of any major city in the country during the pandemic. A native who grew up in public housing, London understands the challenges low and moderate-income people face in our city. She has championed initiatives to develop more housing, improve public safety, and provide opportunities for youth. She is doing an excellent job for our city and deserves a second term.

Everybody and anybody has the right to run; that’s a tenet of democracy. I remember the days when eclectic folks like Sister Boom and Brother Biafra were fixtures on the San Francisco ballots, either as candidates for Mayor or the Board of Supervisors. I’m not sure what motivated them to run, but it seems to me that there is at least some misogynoir involved in the attacks on Mayor Breed. Too many Black women have been similarly vilified. Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay was drummed out of her position, led by a rabid white billionaire, Bill Ackman, himself a Harvard grad. Most recently, young Angel Reese, the star basketball player whose team kicked Caitlin Clark to the curb last year, was vilified by a so-called LA Times journalist, who described her and her team as “dirty debutantes,” a vile slur when you understand the context of the insult. Black men are not exempt from racist slurs. Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott was described as a ‘DEI” mayor after a foreign vessel crashed into the Francis Key Scott bridge, crippling port traffic. It feels like “open season” on Black people. The attacks on Mayor Breed are part of that.

The four men who oppose her are in the race for specious reasons, and none of them offer better approaches to San Francisco’s problems than Breed offers. Indeed, their platforms seem to echo hers on homelessness and crime, but she is making progress in both areas. She already has a $25 million supplement to the law enforcement budget.

Breed’s main challengers bask in their Caucasity (although one, Ahsha Safaí, is Iranian). Aaron Peskin, called “pesky” by some, describes himself as a progressive. Still, he is a NIMBY (not in my backyard) activist who opposes Mayor Breed’s plan to build 82,000 new housing units in the city. Daniel Lurie, a Levi Straus heir, is trying to buy the mayoralty. His mama kicked off his campaign with a million-dollar contribution. He has no experience in governance and even fewer ideas. All he has is money. Mark Farrell is another white man who drips money. He was mayor for a minute (and that mayoralty was a function of bias against Mayor Breed), then left public service to make more venture capital money.

We can’t let this cabal of men snatch the mayoralty away from Mayor Breed. She is an extremely capable administrator and a worthy representative of our famously liberal city. Any of the men who challenge her would be a step backward for the city and the nation. We need to stand with EMILY’S List, the women’s bundling political fundraising organization, in supporting this diligent and activist mayor.