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.


Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

Updated 21 May 2019
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Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

  • The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims

DHAKA: As the clock strikes 6 p.m., Shudhhanondo Mohathero hurries to the kitchen to alert his army of 15 monks that they have less than 40 minutes until iftar. 

Soon, people will begin queuing outside the Dharmarajika Bouddha Bihar, a Buddhist monastery in Dhaka, where Mohathero hands out free food packs to fasting Muslims who are too poor to buy a meal to end their fast.

It is a tradition that 89-year-old Mohathero started 10 years ago when he assumed responsibility for the temple’s upkeep.

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return,” Mohathero told Arab News.

Built in 1951, the monastery, which is located in Basabo in the eastern part of Dhaka, has been involved in various social welfare activities. Since the start of Ramadan this year, almost 200 food packs have been doled out every day, with plans to double the number by the end of the month. The 15 monks who live in the monastery prepare the food boxes for iftar.

At a cost of around 80 cents, which is funded by the temple, each box contains traditional Bangladeshi iftar items such as puffed rice, boiled and seasoned chickpeas, jilapi (a deep-fried sweet pastry), beguni (deep-fried eggplant) and dal bora (a fried item with smashed lentils and dates).

“In previous years, our junior monks used to prepare iftar at the monastery. This year, however, we are starting to outsource the items due to the sheer volume,” Mohathero said. 

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return.”

Shudhhanondo Mohathero, Chief monk of Dhaka’s Buddhist Monastery

The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims.

“I have been receiving iftar from the monastery for three years. Since my husband works as a daily-wage laborer, this iftar has made our lives very comfortable,” Asma Khatun, a local resident, said.

Another devotee, Sharif Hossain, said that iftar from the monastery “is like a divine blessing.”

“After losing all my properties in a river erosion, I moved to Dhaka just a few months ago and started living in a slum. I can finally feed my family with the iftar provided by the monks,” he said. 

Talking about his experience being part of a project that builds communal harmony, Prantar Borua, an apprentice monk at the temple, said: “We feel proud and happy to be doing such an extraordinary thing. It’s a small contribution to the community, but it’s the best we can do at this moment.”

The monastery’s generosity has won praise from the Bangladesh authorities, too.

“It’s a nice initiative from the Buddhist community, especially at a time when the world is experiencing many hate crimes and interreligious conflicts. It upholds the spirit of religious harmony,” Abdul Hamid Jomaddar, joint secretary of the Religious Affairs Ministry, said.

“Our government believes in the coexistence of different religions, which is the beauty of this secular land,” he added.