District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin with his mother Tsipora Peskin after filing paperwork to run for mayor of San Francisco at City Hall, April 5, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin with his mother Tsipora Peskin after filing paperwork to run for mayor of San Francisco at City Hall, April 5, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Longtime S.F. Supervisor Aaron Peskin steps into mayoral race

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Aaron Peskin officially declared his candidacy for San Francisco mayor Friday, bringing his 84-year-old Tel Aviv-born mother, Tsipora Peskin, to witness her son signing the paperwork at San Francisco City Hall.

He is stepping up as the fourth major candidate to challenge incumbent Mayor London Breed in the 2024 mayoral race — and the second who is Jewish, after Daniel Lurie.

Peskin, 59, is president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He will run against Breed; Lurie, a philanthropist and heir to the Levi Strauss fortune; Mark Farrell, who served as mayor for five months following Mayor Ed Lee’s death in 2018; and Supervisor Ahsha Safaí.

“It’s well known that I have been going back and forth on this idea,” Peskin, who represents North Beach and surrounding areas in District 3, told J. in a phone interview Thursday. “I mean, look, I love and cherish San Francisco, and I am profoundly aware that our city is struggling and needs to recover.”

Tackling San Francisco’s opioid and fentanyl epidemics is a priority for Peskin. Last May, he moved the supervisors meeting where Breed appears each month to United Nations Plaza, where he publicly challenged her over her administration’s response to the city’s drug markets, which continue to flourish and have taken over sites such as U.N. Plaza near City Hall.

Peskin wants to craft that solution as mayor. He has been candid about his personal struggle with alcoholism. Next month, he’ll mark three years of sobriety.

“I’ve also gone through my own journey of recovery in the last three years since I stopped imbibing alcohol, and it has given me a new view of life. It has, in many ways, changed my worldview,” Peskin said. “I’ve parked my anger and grudges at the door, and I think that we’re a city that is in need of recovery and is down on itself and beats up on itself and has been beat up on for political gain.”

If the statements released by candidates are any indication, this should be a no-holds-barred race. Breed has said Peskin is out to “destroy housing production” and she is “sick of his shenanigans,” while Peskin has criticized Breed as lacking consistency and follow-through and said her administration “is largely driven by press,” according to interviews in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Peskin, who has served on the Board of Supervisors since 2001 and has twice acted as its president, said he believes he’s the person to build consensus to help San Francisco through its struggles.

In early January, the Board of Supervisors debated the language of a cease-fire resolution in the Israel-Hamas war, an issue that spurred hundreds of people to deliver hours of intense public comment. Peskin wrote a compromise version of the resolution that removed some of the issues that divided board members, such as debating the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution passed 8-3, with Peskin voting in favor. In response, Breed wrote a strongly worded letter denouncing the resolution but opted not to veto it.

On Saturday morning, Peskin plans to deliver a speech on why he’s running for mayor. He has chosen Portsmouth Square in Chinatown for the event. It has historic value as the city’s first public square, and Peskin considers it the “site of the beginning of San Francisco.”

“I want to spread some joy and some unity at a time where, from our nation’s capital to City Hall, people are spending way too much time and energy being mean-spirited and divisive,” Peskin told J. “I want to run a unifying, joyful campaign.”

Jew,  Jewish,  J. The Jewish News of Northern California
Emma Goss.(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Emma Goss

Emma Goss is a J. staff writer. She is a Bay Area native and an alum of Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and Kehillah Jewish High School. Emma also reports for NBC Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaAudreyGoss.