Willie Brown was the 41st Mayor San Francisco, serving two terms between 1996 and 2004. Prior to that, Brown represented San Francisco in the California State Assembly for thirty years, serving as that body’s Speaker for a record fifteen years. Brown was born in Mineola, Texas, in 1934 and moved to San Francisco at the age of seventeen in search of greater opportunities. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1955 and UC Hastings School of Law in 1958. The Oral History Center conducted a lengthy interview with Brown in 1991 and 1992, "Willie L. Brown, Jr.: First Among Equals: California Legislator Leadership 1964–1992," covering his upbringing, education, and most of his time in the State Assembly; the transcript is available to read online. This second oral history, conducted in 2015 and 2016 touches on his final years in the State Assembly and then focuses on his two terms as Mayor of San Francisco. Topics discussed include: Bill Clinton and Democratic politics in the early 1990s; election to Speaker of the Assembly in 1994; term limits in California; San Francisco mayoral elections of 1995 and 1999; first term agenda: economic development, homelessness, housing, Mission Bay development; appointments to the Board of Supervisors; second term agenda: Transbay Terminal, housing; “Progressives” in San Francisco politics; and the image of Willie Brown.




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