San Francisco elects first African-American woman as mayor

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Mayor-elect London Breed acknowledges supporters before speaking to reporters outside of City Hall in San Francisco on June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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London Breed speaks to reporters outside of City Hall on June 13, 2018 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Lorin Eleni Gill)
Updated 14 June 2018
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San Francisco elects first African-American woman as mayor

  • Breed will fill the rest of term of Mayor Ed Lee, who died in December. Lee’s term ends in early 2020, and Breed will need to run in November 2019 for a full four-year term.
  • Breed was the favorite of the business and political establishment communities going into the contest.

SAN FRANCISCO, US: San Francisco Supervisor London Breed emerged victorious a week after Election Day to become the city’s first African-American woman elected mayor, narrowly defeating a rival who was seeking to become the first openly gay man in the position.
Former state Sen. Mark Leno called Breed earlier Wednesday to congratulate her on the victory.
The elections office continues to tally roughly 7,000 ballots, but there is no way Leno can make up the difference. On Wednesday, Breed was leading Leno by fewer than 2,200 votes of nearly 250,000 counted and had 50.49 percent of the vote.
In a brief appearance before reporters and cheering supporters on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, an exuberant Breed said she was humbled, honored and looking forward to serving as mayor.
In particular, she relished the message her election sends to San Francisco’s youth, especially kids like herself who grew up poor.
“No matter where you come from, no matter what you decide to do in life, you can do anything you want to do,” she said. “Never let your circumstances determine your outcome in life.”
Breed vowed to be mayor for all of San Francisco, a message she repeated throughout her bid to lead a city that is economically thriving but mired in homelessness, congestion and unaffordable homes. She has vowed to rid the sidewalks of homeless tent camps within a year of taking office.
Turnout exceeded 50 percent— unusually high for recent mayoral elections— in a contest that was placed on the June 5 ballot after the unexpected death of Mayor Ed Lee in December.
Breed will fill the rest of Lee’s term, which ends in early 2020, and will need to run in November 2019 for a full four-year term.
Breed consistently maintained her lead in first-place votes, but San Francisco uses a unique ranked-choice voting system that allows voters to pick their top three for mayor.
Leno and Supervisor Jane Kim asked their supporters to pick the other as their No.2, saying that Breed represented the status quo that had made San Francisco so inequitable. All three are Democrats.
Breed was the favorite of the business and political establishment communities going into the contest. She raised the most money of the candidates with the help of contributions from big backers.
Earlier in the day, Leno told reporters crammed into his tiny print shop that he had a positive conversation with Breed and that “she is going to do a very fine job. Her success is San Francisco’s success.”
Leno, 66, did not rule out a future run for office and thanked voters for exceeding low turnout expectations.
“This was a campaign about change, a campaign about the betterment of the great city of San Francisco,” he said.
The portrayals of her as a lackey of big business bugged Breed, who first won a supervisor’s seat in 2012.
“I ask people to not attribute what I’ve done — my success and how hard I’ve worked— to not reduce that or attribute that to someone else,” Breed told the AP in a pre-election interview.
The former executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex grew up in the historically black Western Addition, raised by her grandmother in public housing. They drank powdered milk and ate meat from a can labeled “pork,” she said.
At City Hall, she paid homage to her late grandmother and said she probably had a hand in her win.
“She took care of the community, she took care of me even on days when I didn’t deserve it, and so being here in her honor means so much,” she said.


Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

Updated 27 min 40 sec ago
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Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

  • The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
  • EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici: “The Greek crisis ends here tonight.”

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday said the country was “turning a page” after eurozone ministers declared its crisis over as they granted Athens debt relief under a bailout exit strategy.
The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
“Yesterday we reached a historic agreement on Greece’s debt with the Eurogroup,” Tsipras told the country’s president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“We are turning a page,” he said, adding that Greece had to remain on the path of reform.
Following the eurozone ministers’ hard-fought agreement declared earlier Friday, Greece is slated to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on August 20.
“The Greek crisis ends here tonight,” said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, after marathon talks in Luxembourg.
The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany — Greece’s long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor — dragged the talks on for six hours.
The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached close to double the country’s annual economic output.
They also agreed to disburse €15 billion ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece’s exit from the rescue program.
This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion safety cushion, officials said.
“The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected,” Citi European Economics said in a note.
“In particular, the 10-year extension of the EFSF loans’ maturity and most importantly the grace period on interest payments is a significant development,” they added.
“The Greek government is happy with the agreement,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the talks.
But “to make this worthwhile we have to make sure that the Greek people must quickly see concrete results... they need to feel the change in their own pockets,” he added.
The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. Unemployment soared and still hovers over 20 percent, sending thousands of young educated Greeks abroad.
Optimism is tempered by Greece’s remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.
“This is a very tight program. A surplus of 3.5 percent to 2022 and 2.2 percent (on average) to 2060 is not easy at all,” Kostas Boukas, asset management director at Beta Securities, told Athens 9,84 radio.
“We’ll have to see if the pledges will be kept, especially as they depend on international developments as well,” he said.
Under pressure from its creditors, Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.
Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5-percent surplus, if necessary.
“It would be a terrible mistake to cultivate illusions that the end of the bailout means a return to normality,” said pro-opposition daily Ta Nea.
“What follows is tough oversight which no other country has experienced in a post-bailout period,” the daily said.
The European Commission has already specified that Greece will remain under fiscal supervision until it repays 75 percent of its loans.
Athens has received €273.7 billion in assistance since 2010, enabling it to avoid punishing borrowing rates on debt markets.
The International Monetary Fund, led by the tough-talking Christine Lagarde, welcomed the debt relief, but cited reservations about Greece’s obligations over the long term.
“In the medium term analysis there is no doubt in our minds that Greece will be able to reaccess the markets,” Lagarde said after the talks.
“As far as the longer term is concerned we have concerns,” she added.
The reform-pushing IMF played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts, but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that Greece’s debt pile was unsustainable in the long term.