September 27, 2022
Can London Breed pull off a high-wire act? Boudin recall puts spotlight on mayor balancing public safety with reform

Mayor London Breed (center right) walks with long time friend Gwen Young (center left) as she and Supervisor Matt Dorsey walk in Design district to discuss economic recovery efforts on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. The Mayor’s new budget includes $48.9 million over the two years to enhance small business and economic recovery efforts, including a $10 million investment in direct grants and loans aimed at helping small businesses stabilize.

It only took hours for the successful recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin to become a high-wire act for Mayor London Breed, who now has to balance calls for safety with a push to reinvent institutions as she prepares to appoint Boudin’s replacement.

Democrats around the country are walking a similar line, but political observers are closely watching Breed’s strategy play out in San Francisco, where residents have become fixated on crime and other livability issues, and where the office of mayor is traditionally a launching pad to a statewide seat.

Part of the fascination is watching a big-city mayor learn on the job, said David McCuan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State University. Secondarily, he said, “We are seeing a Democrat trying to find that sweet spot” of working with law enforcement while appeasing progressives.

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