SAN FRANCISCO — After nine years of Dianne Feinstein's moderate politics, Art Agnos, a liberal former social worker, became this city's 39th mayor Friday with a Populist pledge to keep it from becoming an enclave for the rich.
In his inaugural address in the ornate City Hall rotunda, Agnos echoed his campaign themes: affordable housing, protection of neighborhoods and small business, and fighting AIDS and homelessness.
"At the heart of our vision is a refusal to let San Francisco become an expensive enclave that locks out the middle-class, working families and the poor," Agnos said in his first speech as mayor.
Crowd of 3,000
Agnos, 49, a state assemblyman for nine years, took his oath of office while placing a hand on a Bible held by his mother, Mary Agnos. A crowd estimated by officials at 3,000 looked on, as did Feinstein, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Sen. Alan Cranston, Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) and other officials.
Inaugural festivities of some past San Francisco mayors have been regal with military bands and motorcades. Agnos' ceremony was much less complicated, with children's choirs, a brass band and political speeches.
Afterward, he invited anyone who wanted to visit his new office on the second floor of City Hall to come and shake his hand. A long procession of supporters and friends took him up on it. A party for 12,000 was to be held later.
A flaw in the affair came when a man on the fourth floor dumped tea leaves, broken balloons and paper on Agnos as he descended stairs to the podium with his wife, Sherry, and sons, Christopher, 10, and Stephen, 6. The man was arrested. No one was injured.
Feinstein, 54, who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible campaign for governor, was barred by the city Charter from seeking a third term in the office that was thrust upon her by the assassination Nov. 27, 1978, of George Moscone by Supervisor Dan White.
The outgoing mayor smiled as she warned Agnos that the job would turn his black hair gray, and said she had left him bottles of champagne and aspirin. Feinstein, leaving a projected $77-million deficit behind, laced her remarks with comments about the need to keep within the budget.
Agnos was attacked during his campaign for promises that would cost tens of millions. But he won a runoff last month with 70% of the vote against Supervisor John Molinari, who was backed by Feinstein. Agnos repeated calls for a new library and civic center, and more government aid for housing.
"The house of the future in San Francisco has to be more than a two-bedroom apartment," said Agnos, who lives in just such an apartment on Potrero Hill, a blue-collar neighborhood that like much of the city is becoming gentrified.
While Feinstein supported the Navy's plan to base the battleship Missouri here, Agnos opposed it and told the applauding crowd Friday that "like the saint for whom our city is named, we will strive to be an instrument of peace."
'Indecency of Homelessness'
The one-time social worker said he would work to "end the indecency of homelessness." He said the success in the fight against AIDS will be measured not just in medicine and health care, "but in our genuine caring for one another." More than 2,500 San Franciscans have died of AIDS.
Former Rep. John L. Burton and Roberta Achtenburg, a lesbian lawyer, plan to run for the Assembly seat left vacant by Agnos. Burton, who once held the seat, quit Congress in 1982 and later admitted drug and alcohol abuse.
The son of Greek immigrants, Agnos worked in the family shoeshine shop in Springfield, Mass. He arrived by Greyhound bus in San Francisco 22 years ago, and had been an assemblyman since 1976.