San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced his candidacy for mayor in an e-mail message on Friday, saying he would manage the budget but also take a progressive approach to confronting the city’s perennial social ills of homelessness, drug addiction and crime.
Herrera, who was first elected to his office in 2001, has stayed in the headlines with his activist’s interpretation of his role as city attorney and the hodgepodge of cases he has pursued. In recent years, for instance, he both defended the city’s landmark universal healthcare legislation in federal court and threatened to sue Kellogg’s, the breakfast cereal maker, unless it could prove the “immunity boosting” claims on its children’s cereal boxes.
In his Friday message, he said that his past nine years as city attorney demonstrated his leadership qualities and that it served as a natural stepping stone to Room 200, just around the corner from his office in City Hall.
“For nearly a decade, I've served as your City Attorney -- a job some call the second toughest in City Hall,” Herrera wrote. “Strong leadership takes hard work, a commitment to the right priorities, and the ability to put problem solving ahead of politics. That's the leadership I've demonstrated as City Attorney. And that's exactly the kind leadership we need in San Francisco's next Mayor.”
Herrera pointed to his record of cracking down on government corruption, gang violence, drugs and graffiti as well as “negotiating settlements that delivered safer housing, access to healthcare, and better schools.”
Twice in the e-mail message, Herrera solicited campaign contributions.
With his announcement, Herrera joins Supervisor Bevan Dufty as the only declared candidates so far in what is expected to be a crowded and intriguing race to succeed Mayor Gavin Newsom.
City Hall observers believe Herrera, who enjoys high citywide name recognition, would be a leading contender in a standard general election. But his chances may be skewed if Newsom — the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor — wins his statewide election and the Board of Supervisors appoints an interim mayor to Newsom’s seat.
Herrera is not seen as progressive enough to be appointed by the left-leaning board, some say.