Edwin M. Lee, an affordable housing advocate and technocrat who became the first Asian-American to be elected as mayor of San Francisco, died early on Tuesday December 12 2017 of undisclosed causes, his office said. He was 65.
Born in 1952 in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine in 1974 and from the University of California, Berkeley Schoo l of Law in 1978.
After completing law school, Lee worked as Managing Attorney for the San Francisco Asian Law Caucus In 1989, Lee was appointed by Mayor Art Agnos as the City's first investigator under the city's Whistleblower Ordinance. Agnos later appointed him deputy director of human relations. In 1991, he was hired as executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, serving in that capacity under Mayors Agnos, Frank Jordan, and Willie Brown. Brown appointed him Director of City Purchasing.
In 2000, he was appointed Director of Public Works for the City, and in 2005 was appointed by Mayor Newsom to a five-year term as City Administrator, to which he was reappointed in 2010.
After Mayor Newsom's election as lieutenant governor, Lee pledged not to seek election if appointed, a statement which helped to gain support for his appointment. He changed his mind, however, and was elected in the next term.
He is survived by his wife, Anita, and his two daughters, Tania and Brianna.