Anti-Marijuana Advocate Joins 2019 San Francisco Mayoral Race

December 28, 2018 Updated: December 31, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO—Ellen Lee Zhou, one of the leading figures in the city against commercial marijuana, has joined the 2019 mayoral election.

The liberal city currently has 50 recreational cannabis businesses in operation within its 47-square mile boundary, meaning at least one cannabis store per square mile. The city also has more than 200 pending applications for pot store operational permits.

Zhou, a 49-year-old mother with two college-aged children and a Chinese immigrant who came to the U.S. during her high school years, has been one of the most vocal leaders calling for a drug-free city.

The Chinese community, which makes up more than 20 percent of the city’s total population, has been a strong opponent of commercial marijuana operations. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in July passed a resolution that banned pot stores in the Chinatown area of the city.

Commercial marijuana was approved by California voters through Prop. 64 in 2016. However, the drug is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government based on the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

Marijuana operations have met with strong resistance in many cities in California, especially in jurisdictions with heavy Asian populations.

Zhou was also one of the candidates in the 2018 San Francisco special mayoral election when former San Francisco mayor Ed Lee died in office in December 2017.

The special election was to elect a mayor to serve Lee’s remaining unfinished term until the end of 2019. The upcoming election in Nov. 2019 will elect the next mayor to serve the city starting January 2020.

Zhou is a longtime public employee as a social worker in the city. She ran her mayoral campaign in the 2018 election on a platform of reducing government waste, cleaning up government corruption, and standing up against commercial marijuana.

The candidate ran as an independent in 2018, but she has announced that she will run her campaign in 2019 as a Republican candidate, giving her support to President Trump.

Zhou stated that Trump is doing an excellent job, with only $1 annual pay and almost all of his salary donated. Zhou said that she would also donate half of her salary if elected.

In the 2018 elections, almost all of the Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats in the city lost their campaigns. The city’s political landscape has shifted extensively to the far left.

This means that Zhou will face an uphill battle in 2019. However, she said that she is confident she will win if her message reaches out to all Republicans and Asian Americans in the city.

Zhou also claimed that she had evidence of corruption in the city. She said some managers are getting kickbacks from the public employee hiring process and said that she would fight to stop corruption in City Hall if elected. She’s also a devoted Christian and says that she believes in traditional family values.

Zhou announced her candidacy at a Christmas party on Dec. 23 in a small Chinese restaurant, where she led a crowd of her supporters singing Christmas songs. Zhou said she would formally file her legal paper as a candidate in the city’s election office after the New Year.

The current mayor, London Breed, already confirmed that she will run in next year’s mayoral race as the incumbent candidate.

The election will be held on Nov. 5, 2019, and the filing deadline for any potential candidate is 5:00 p.m. on June 11, 2019.