San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday morning at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, his office announced. He was 65 years old.
The office didn’t immediately explain what Lee died of at 1:11 a.m., and had not previously announced any illness. Lee’s “family, friends and colleagues were at his side,” his office said.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said Lee died of a heart attack, but that point has yet to be confirmed by Lee’s office.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed became acting mayor of the city, per the city charter.
Breed held a brief news conference at the hospital Tuesday morning just hours after Lee’s death, confirming “with profound sadness” that Lee died and that she stepped into his role.
A second media availability with Breed and other city officials was set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. at City Hall.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family,” the office wrote in its news release.
Lee was San Francisco’s 43rd mayor and its first Asian-American mayor, taking office in January 2011 to serve out Gavin Newsom’s term after Newsom was elected lieutenant governor of California. He had been San Francisco’s city administrator.
He won an election for mayor in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.
It is the first time since 1978, when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated, that a successor is taking over the office of San Francisco mayor. Supervisor Dianne Feinstein became mayor, the first woman to hold the office, and is now California’s senior U.S. senator.
Lee was born in Seattle and attended Bowdoin College and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a housing activist and civil rights attorney.
The city’s website credits him with overseeing San Franciso’s “most successful economic expansion in City history,” having added 140,000 jobs and more homes to the housing market than any other mayor in the city’s history.
Still, under Lee’s tenure the city has grappled with the high cost of living amid San Francisco’s tech boom.
During his 2012 inaugural address, Lee spoke of the need to embrace technology even when it causes disruption, then pulled out his smartphone to send a tweet mid-speech.
“That’s a little disruption,” Lee said after tweeting an infographic of the city’s jobs numbers. “But it show how important, I think, innovation and technology are to reforming our government and building our future.”