SAN FRANCISCO – Kristine Hamlett couldn’t pin down the exact emotions that motivated her to spend a foggy Saturday morning in front of Dianne Feinstein’s Pacific Heights home, a day after news broke about the iconic California senator’s death.
But as her 3-year-old twins, Jay and Crigg, scampered up and down the Lyon Street Steps, the 38-year-old from Marin County said she wanted to pay her respects to the first woman she remembers who truly exemplified the mentality and ambition of a trailblazer.
“I think it’s really important for them to know that moms can go to work, have really important jobs, enact change and fight for what they believe in, too,” Hamlett said of her boys. “No matter if you agree with her or not, she gave a lot of voice to people and worked towards change that she thought was right. You have to respect a human being that has enough conviction to do that.”
Tributes continued to pour in and flags flew at half-staff on Saturday in San Francisco, the city where Feinstein ascended to political prominence as mayor in the 1970s during city’s most tumultuous hour, after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. At 90, she was the oldest member of the U.S. Senate, California’s first woman elected to the upper house of Congress and longest-tenured female senator in American history.
But with her mental acuity and health in decline, Feinstein became a symbol in her final months of how many of the country’s leading politicians, from 80-year-old President Joe Biden to 81-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, resist yielding power to a new generation.
“To be that old, I don’t know that somebody has the faculties or capacity to be able to understand modern technology or issues of the day. This is a problem that goes beyond politics, it’s in all leadership,” Shannon Swenson, 51, visiting from Austin, Texas, said walking down the Lyon Steps with his daughter, Mary, 19. “What can I say, I’m staunchly Gen X— get out of the way and let us have a shot at some of this.”
Feinstein’s death immediately set off speculation about who Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint as her successor to serve the final 15 months of her term — and when. He has vowed to appoint a Black woman, but only as a temporary caretaker so he doesn’t impact a hotly contested race to succeed Feinstein.
One name being mentioned as a potential successor: San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
That would be fine with one of Feinstein’s neighbors, who has lived along the Lyon Steps for 26 years. “That way she wouldn’t be mayor anymore,” said the neighbor, Chris B., who declined to provide his last name.
Chris Lenzo also lived down the street from Feinstein for more than two decades and said the senator represented what is possible in career and life.
“I respected the fact that she worked both sides of the aisle,” said Lenzo, 64. “We don’t have that anymore.”
Gene McCoy was born in San Francisco six years after Feinstein. He said he wasn’t informed enough to say who could possibly fill her giant shoes.
“These appointments shouldn’t be filled by race or gender. She was a great politician and wasn’t into all of that,” McCoy said. “She was great for the city. She was respected, and we need more people like her.“
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2023/09/30/san-francisco-neighbors-pay-tribute-to-dianne-feinstein-along-citys-iconic-lyon-street-steps/ San Francisco neighbors pay tribute to Dianne Feinstein