San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the first Asian American to lead the California city, died suddenly and unexpectedly early Tuesday morning.
Mayor Lee was the son of Chinese immigrants and the first member of his family to attend college.
In a news release, officials said that Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The mayor died with family, friends and colleagues at his side.
Lee collapsed with cardiac arrest while shopping at the Safeway grocery store on Monterey Boulevard near his Glen Park home at about 10 pm Monday. He was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital.
The mayor’s office released a brief statement early Tuesday morning confirming Lee’s death, stating in part: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.” Flags at City Hall were lowered to half staff.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who served as the city’s mayor in the late 1970s and 1980s, called it “a very sad day for San Francisco and all of us who knew Ed.”
Feinstein said Lee “was an excellent mayor of a great but sometimes challenging city. His equanimity and quiet management style was effective and allowed him to solve problems as they occurred.”
Lee was well known for his upbeat, joking and friendly personality. He was incredibly focused on details and political consensus.
Lee was the 43rd mayor of San Francisco. Board of Supervisors President London Breed became acting mayor, effectively immediately.
The Board of Supervisors now will appoint a new mayor if its members can get to six votes. Breed is no longer a supervisor. If no candidate gets that majority support, Breed will continue to serve as mayor. Then a special election will be held in June 2018. The next regularly scheduled mayoral election is in 2019.
“I just feel so deeply sad,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said. “There were often times I disagreed with Ed Lee politically, but he served the city for 40 years. I’m glad I had a chance to work with him for the past year on homelessness.