SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU/BCN) - He's had a long history in San Francisco politics. He was a supervisor, then a state senator until he was termed out last year. Now Mark Leno is jumping back into politics announcing today that he’ll be running for mayor of San Francisco in the 2019 race.
The 65-year-old says he wants to become mayor before retiring from politics.
Leno confirmed the news to KTVU on Wednesday. "Having lived in San Francisco and been blessed with a fortunate life the past 40 years, I want to offer my experiences, expertise, skills and passion to address the challenges facing San Francisco,” he wrote.
On his Facebook page he elaborated, writing that he was ready to lead with a, “progressive vision for the city grounded in a commitment to affordability and civil rights.”
He continued that he’d fight on behalf of “regular San Franciscans” including immigrants, tenants, homeowners and small businesses. I want to see a more just, fair and equitable city."
He tells KTVU he was approached eight months ago by SCN Strategies, a political consulting firm that has helped politicians win such as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, U.S Senator Kamala Harris and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Leno says he was advised to start his campaign early.
"He's very much the front runner in this race .He's very popular. He's well liked," says Jim Ross, a political consultant.
Ross is not with SCN. He ran Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign for San Francisco Mayor.
Ross says Leno has everything to gain by running early.
"He needs a way to stay relevant. He's no longer in office," says Ross.
We asked Leno why he didn't run for mayor against Mayor Ed Lee in 2015.
"I had another year with the hope for another four years in the state Senate so the timing didn't feel quite right. " says Leno.
If Leno succeeds in his bid, he would be the first openly gay mayor of San Francisco.
Leno has already secured the backing of a number of prominent officials. His list of endorsements includes U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, State Controller Betty Yee, state Assemblyman Phil Ting and Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Ahsha Safai and Norman Yee, as well as Public Defender Jeff Adachi.