By Anni Chung, Kitman Chan and the Rev. Norman Fong
As the months pass and we reflect on the legacy of our late Mayor Ed Lee, many San Franciscans have approached community leaders with ideas to honor the city’s first Chinese American mayor.
While he was a champion and inspiration to the Asian American community, Ed Lee was also a dedicated civil servant who gave of himself to all San Franciscans, of all backgrounds and walks of life, for more than three decades.
After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Lee family, a large contingent of the Bay Area community agrees that naming the International Terminal at SFO after our late Mayor Lee, is a fitting tribute to his years of service and accomplishments, and one that appropriately honors his place in the city’s history.
As a renovation of the International Terminal is being planned, it is the perfect time to address the appropriate name that will greet international travelers, immigrants, refugees and our own residents back home to the Bay Area; we think Ed Lee’s name welcoming the world to the special place that is San Francisco is the perfect fit.
With his trademark humility and civility, at a time when we needed it most, Mayor Lee forged collaboration and consensus to get results. He took on the big challenges: tax reform, budget deficits, out-of-control pension costs, double-digit unemployment, overdue infrastructure improvements and long-delayed production of affordable housing.
Ed Lee rolled up his sleeves, brought diverse groups of people together, and got it done. He led the city, first, through one of the nation’s worst recessions and then through an unprecedented time of growth and change. And, as he steered the city away from fiscal disaster and toward solvency, he saw to it that the wealth and prosperity of the city helped working families, immigrants and marginalized communities. He attracted jobs to the city, helped cut unemployment to historic lows, raised the minimum wage, housed the chronically homeless and built affordable housing at a rate not seen since the last century.
Mayor Lee made historic investments in our public schools and rebuilt our city’s public housing for our most vulnerable residents. He oversaw the expansion of our convention center and even convinced the Golden State Warriors to come back home to San Francisco.
And, he made sure that our airport was ready to meet the demands of the 21st century in a growing region. That’s why he prioritized and oversaw the largest expansion of services and infrastructure improvements at SFO in a generation. He made sure SFO would remain one of the fastest growing airports in the world, generating $36 billion in economic activity, with nearly 165,000 jobs for the region. Due to Mayor Lee’s leadership, the airport is now undertaking a five-year, $5.7 billion capital improvement program, which includes the International Terminal.
In addition to these extraordinary accomplishments, we also remember that at his core Ed Lee was a champion of civil rights and a leader who embodied San Francisco values.
And it’s significant that in a city where the Chinese Exclusion Act once tried to bar an entire ethnic population from participating in a shared future, Ed Lee expanded opportunities for people of all backgrounds and strengthened San Francisco’s cultural and economic ties to Asia, the Pacific Rim and the entire globe.
We urge the Airport Commission to join us and support this community effort. You can help by signing the petition being circulated around the city and which will be available at a community event in Portsmouth Square at 11 a.m. Monday.
Anni Chung is president & CEO of Self Help for the Elderly. Kitman Chan is p