San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning from a heart attack at the age of 65.
Lee reportedly collapsed while shopping at a local Safeway at around 10 pm; he passed away at San Francisco General Hospital at 1:11 am.
Various California politicians issued statements offering condolences to Lee’s family.
“On behalf of all Californians, Anne and I extend our deepest condolences to Mayor Lee’s family, his many friends and the entire City of San Francisco,” said Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a statement. “Ed was a true champion for working people and epitomized the California spirit. He’ll truly be missed.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement, “Ed 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.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also chimed in.
“All who knew Mayor Lee understood him as a true gentleman of great warmth, positivity and kindness,” said Pelosi. “His passing is not only a tragic official loss for our city but also a profound personal loss for all who were fortunate enough to call him friend.”
Lee was first elected as mayor of San Francisco in 2011 after he reluctantly agreed to run, making him the first Asian mayor in the history of the city. Lee was able revitalize San Francisco’s economy through what was known as the “Twitter tax break,” incentivizing tech companies to produce jobs at the city’s Mid-Market area through payroll tax cuts. Lee was also able to accomplish “pension reform and a shift in the way business taxes are levied away from a company’s payroll to its gross receipts,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Despite the improved economic growth, San Francisco still faces a myriad of challenges, including homelessness and soaring housing rents. Lee also doubled down on San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which came under scrutiny following the death of Kate Steinle.
Prior to his tenure as mayor, Lee served as a civil rights attorney and held various positions within the city government. He leaves behind his wife Anita and two daughter Brianna and Tania.