edlee_swornin.jpgA tri-lingual coalition of women gathered on the steps of City Hall today to try to convince Mayor Ed Lee to run this November for a full mayoral term, saying their mustachioed avenger had been “redeployed” for service.

Lee said when he took over as interim mayor–replacing now-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom–at the beginning of the year that he had no plans to run for a four-year stint starting in 2012.

So far he has maintained that position despite mounting pressure from a “Run, Ed, Run” campaign.

Today’s “Women for Ed” rally marked the latest effort to get the 58-year-old to join the race, as speakers explained in English, Spanish and Chinese why they think Lee’s record of supporting women’s rights makes him the best candidate for the job.

One of Lee’s first legal victories was organizing a renters’ strike at a public housing complex in 1977 in response to the murder and attempted rape of a 17-year-old resident, a long-time tenant of the Ping Yuen public housing complex said through a translator.

Lee was a clerk at the Asian Law Caucus at the time and represented the tenants during negotiations with the San Francisco Housing Authority.

He later served as executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, where he oversaw the city’s first-ever Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and as head of the Department of Public Works, where he implemented the convention’s hiring recommendations and expanded the department’s female work force.

“I’ve known him nearly 20 years,” said Shelley Bradford-Bell, co-chair for Women for Ed. “He admits when he’s wrong. He has no ego. It’s not ‘my way or the highway;’ it’s ‘our’ way.”

Despite Lee’s pledge not to run, Bradford-Bell said she would not consider an attempt at a four-year term to be a renege on his promise, and would see it as him responding to a request from San Francisco residents.

More than 30,000 people, about 40 percent of them women, have signed a petition supporting the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign, she said.

But just a few weeks from the Aug. 12 filing deadline, Lee still seems uninterested in entering the crowded field, which includes several current and past city supervisors, along with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Assessor-recorder Phil Ting, and state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

The mayor’s office did not return calls seeking comment today, but Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle during an interview last week that he did not intend to run in the Nov. 8 election. He sounded less sure today during an on-camera interview with KTVU.

The members of Women for Ed said they hope they can inspire a last-minute change of heart.

“The city still needs his leadership, principles and uncanny ability to unite,” said Fatimah Simmons of Women for Ed.

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

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