WASHINGTON — San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, a central figure in the nation’s sanctuary cities debate, died unexpectedly at 65 Tuesday.
“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,” according to a statement from his office provided to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Family, friends and colleagues were at his side. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.”
The Chronicle reports that Lee appears to have died from a heart attack.
Lee, the first Asian-American to hold the position, had served as mayor since 2012. Before assuming office, he was a prominent civil rights lawyer.
After President Donald Trump assumed office earlier this year, Lee proudly touted San Francisco as a “sanctuary city,” a term used to describe cities that decline to fully cooperate with federal immigration laws.
“We are a sanctuary city now, tomorrow, forever,” Lee said during a State of the City address less than a week after Trump was sworn in.
London Breed, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, will serve as acting mayor. The Board of Supervisors is expected to keep her in the position until the city holds its elections in June, 2018.
Lee’s death was met with an outpouring of sympathy from California politicians.
I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. He was a fierce advocate for civil rights and worked tirelessly for workers’ rights and his leadership will be missed. Keeping the mayor’s family in my prayers during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/SpU8EttETK
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 12, 2017
I am deeply saddened to learn that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, an unshakable force for good in SF & the entire Bay Area, has passed. My condolences are with his family, friends, loved ones and the people of San Francisco during this difficult time. https://t.co/RItpOESSLl
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) December 12, 2017
My condolences to the family and friends of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Ed was a remarkable, professional and dedicated public servant. https://t.co/RYeG8j6PGl
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 12, 2017