leenewsom.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said today that he would approve of City Administrator Ed Lee serving as interim mayor once Newsom leaves to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

Speaking after an event to celebrate San Francisco being picked to host the America’s Cup sailing race, Newsom said he “couldn’t be more pleased” about the possibility of Lee replacing him for the final year of his term as mayor.

The Board of Supervisors spent more than eight hours Tuesday deciding who should replace Newsom, with vociferous debate taking place between the progressive and moderate factions of the board. The progressives had nominated Sheriff Michael Hennessey, while the moderates favored Lee.

Just as it appeared likely that Lee had the six votes necessary to be nominated, several progressive board members requested a continuance until Friday in order for them to have time to speak with Lee, who is in Hong Kong, about the appointment.

Newsom had delayed his swearing-in as lieutenant governor this week in order to prevent the current 11-member board from appointing an interim mayor with a far-left political agenda. Four new board members will take office this Saturday.

Newsom said today that he “greatly anticipates when the real decision makers are sworn in on Saturday” and called the current board’s debate symbolic.

However, Newsom did say he thought it would be nice if both the current and future boards agree on Lee as his successor.

“He’s a person of integrity…he understands the governance structure (of the city),” he said. “I couldn’t imagine someone more qualified.”

Lee has worked for the city since 1989. He has served as executive director of the Human Rights Commission and director of the Department of Public Works before he was first appointed City Administrator in 2005.

Newsom also said he plans to choose an interim district attorney to replace Kamala Harris, who was elected the state’s attorney general and was sworn in to office on Monday, but said he hasn’t made a decision yet.

“I haven’t had those discussions,” he said. “We’re focused exclusively on who the next mayor is going to be.”

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