San Francisco's Breed Emerges as Winner of Tight Mayoral Race

(Bloomberg) -- After more than a week of suspense, San Francisco now knows its mayor: London Breed.

Her competitor Mark Leno conceded Wednesday, eight days after the election, after it became likely he would be short on votes. Breed, the board of supervisors president who had been backed by big names in the technology industry, was ahead in the race with all but 8,000 ballots processed, the city’s Department of Elections said Tuesday afternoon.

The two had been taking turns in the lead as ballots were tabulated under San Francisco’s ranked-choice election system, in which voters choose their top three picks. The candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and votes for that person are redistributed to the voter’s second choice, and so on until a winner emerges with the majority.

The ultimate triumph of Breed, who will be the first black woman to serve as San Francisco mayor, caps months of drama surrounding City Hall. Breed, in her role as board of supervisors president, initially was tapped to be interim mayor following the sudden death of Ed Lee in December. In a break from tradition, city supervisors including Jane Kim, who was also running to fill out Lee’s term, voted in January to install another supervisor, venture capitalist Mark Farrell, to serve until this month’s election.

Leno and Kim had also endorsed each other to block the front-runner Breed under the ranked-choice system -- an alliance that benefited Leno as he ended up neck and neck with Breed. Eight candidates had vied for the job.

Leno said Wednesday that he called Breed to congratulate her.

"She’s going to do a very fine job," Leno said at a news conference at his San Francisco store, Budget Signs Inc. "Her success is San Francisco’s success.”

Tech luminaries including investor Ron Conway, Twitter Inc. co-founder Ev Williams and former Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer had all backed Breed. She has been a proponent of building more housing to ease a real estate affordability crisis in the city, where the median house price hit $1.6 million in the first quarter.

Breed will serve the remainder of Lee’s term to 2020, and can run in 2019 for a full four-year term.

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