San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee filed papers at City Hall Monday to run for mayor in November, changing course after months of saying he had no plans to stay in office after his current term ends.
Lee was named interim mayor in January after former Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor, and repeatedly said he planned to return to his old job as city administrator rather than try to stay on as mayor.
But in recent weeks, Lee began to say he was considering joining the race, and officially announced his candidacy this morning, filing papers with the city's Department of Elections.
"While I changed my mind, I haven't changed," he said to reporters after he filled out the paperwork. "I will continue being Ed Lee, that's all I have to offer."
Lee cited his accomplishments during his seven months in office, including working with companies like Twitter on a tax break to keep them in San Francisco, overseeing a relatively peaceful budget process that closed a $380 million deficit, and developing a comprehensive proposal to reform the costly pensions of city workers.
"I've been able to accomplish so much, and there's so much more to do," he said.
Lee is joining an already crowded field of mayoral candidates that includes three people who recommended and appointed him to the interim mayor post -- Board President David Chiu and former supervisors Bevan Dufty and Michela Alioto-Pier.
Chiu said he called Lee this morning to welcome him to the race.
"While I'm disappointed that he broke his promise to San Franciscans not to run, it will ultimately be up to the voters to judge the character, vision and record of those who want to lead our city for the next four years," Chiu said in a statement.
Dufty said, "It's a big change to the race," but "I don't begrudge him making this decision."
He said, "I'm campaigning about my vision and my record, and that's not going to change ... people have to do what people have to do."
Other candidates include former supervisor Tony Hall, state Sen. Leland Yee, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, and venture capitalist Joanna Rees.
Yee said, "I have always said that whoever wants to run should run. I look forward to discussing the important issues facing our city with the interim mayor and finally seeing him at the candidate debates."
Lee acknowledged there might be some bristling among candidates who had approved his appointment after he pledged he would not run in November.
"I do owe them an explanation, and have been doing that," he said, adding he would reach out to all of the leading candidates by the end of the day today.
Lee's filing of election papers was interrupted by a man who repeatedly asked him whether he would step down as mayor during the campaign after breaking his promise not to run.
The man screamed loudly as he was forcibly removed from the Department of Elections by several sheriff's deputies.
Lee said, "I know people will have strong opinions about this" but said he will take input from everyone in the city and pledged to rebuild trust from people who feel let down by his reversal.
Lee will make his first appearance at a mayoral candidates' forum tonight at the Castro Theater in an event hosted by the Castro/Eureka Valley and Duboce Triangle neighborhood associations.
He acknowledged that he needs to brush up on his debate skills, having never previously run for political office.
"I'm obviously not used to debating people, but I am used to explaining decisions," he said. "If it's all about explanations, then I should be OK."
Bay City News