San Francisco Mayor and 'Sanctuary City' Proponent Ed Lee Dies at 65

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Posted: Dec 12, 2017 8:08 AM
San Francisco Mayor and 'Sanctuary City' Proponent Ed Lee Dies at 65

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. 

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Family, friends and colleagues were at his side,” his office said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family."

According to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Lee died from a heart attack. The mayor’s office did not confirm that, however.  

Lee was San Francisco's 43rd mayor and its first Asian-American mayor, taking office in January 2011 to serve out Gavin Newsom's term after Newsom was elected lieutenant governor of California. He had been San Francisco's city administrator.

He won an election for mayor in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. (NBC Bay Area)

Lee, 65, was an outspoken proponent of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which had been the center of political debate after Kate Steinle was shot and killed in 2015 by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times. 

The mayor stood firm in his position on the issue even after facing criticism when Jose Ines Garcia Zarate’s not-guilty verdict was reached earlier this month.

"We are, and will remain, a sanctuary city, no matter what the Attorney General of the United States tries to do, or the president tries to do, because we believe, and we know for a fact, we're a safer city as a result," he said at the time.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed, 43, has become acting mayor of the city. She is the first African-American woman to hold San Francisco’s mayoral office.