19th-leland-yee.jpgState Sen. Leland Yee announced this morning that he will run for mayor of San Francisco.

Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, made the announcement at the Department of Elections at City Hall, where he filed papers at about 10:30 a.m. to form an exploratory committee.

Speaking with reporters afterward, Yee repeatedly said he was eager to begin “a conversation” with the people of San Francisco about how to deal with the many “precious and important issues in the years to come.”

Yee was not specific on what issues he felt were most pressing, other than to say that the economic state of California, the country and San Francisco “has been horrible to the people.”

Yee, who was raised and schooled in San Francisco, emphasized his roots here as an important qualification for mayor.

“What I am, and all I’m about, is all because of the good graces of this city,” he said.

A statement from Yee released this morning by his campaign talked of fighting for children, working families and “greater government transparency.” It specifically mentioned Yee’s work on education issues, a need to reform public transit, job creation, and continued leadership on the environment and human rights.

“We need experienced leadership that can bring us together as one community,” the statement read. “I want to see the mayor work with, and not against the Board of Supervisors.”

Asked by reporters if this was a critique of outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom, Yee responded, “I’m not going to judge this mayor. I think history will do that.”

Yee insisted that the timing of his decision was “absolutely not” connected to the current mayoral replacement drama going on at City Hall, with speculation running rampant as to whom the Board of Supervisors might appoint as an interim mayor until the November 2011 mayoral election.

“I have the highest regard for the members of the Board of Supervisors,” he said. “They have a tremendous challenge before them, and I wish them well.”

Yee, who was just re-elected to the state Senate, was previously a member of the Assembly, and prior to that served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the board of education.

He pledged to continue working on behalf of his Senate district as he explores a run for mayor.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, venture capitalist Joanna Rees and a number of others have also announced their intent to run.

Ari Burack, Bay City News

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