Susan Leal, California, 1994


Susan Leal was appointed to fill out a term on the board of supervisors when the seat was vacated by Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, also an out lesbian, who had been tapped by President Clinton for a post with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Susan Leal

Born October 11, 1949

San Francisco County Treasurer

San Francisco, California

725,000 constituents

Career Overview

Appointed to Board of Supervisors 1993

Elected 1994

Elected Treasurer November 1997

Re-elected 2001



Essay by Susan Leal for Out and Elected in the USA

This summer, at the National Council of La Raza Conference in Houston, Texas, I received an award recognizing my commitment to “Building Bridges” between the Latino queer community and others. The bridge is an apt metaphor for my experience as a Latina, as a lesbian, as an attorney, as a local legislator, and most recently as an elected official responsible for collecting taxes, banking funds, and investing a $3 billion dollar portfolio here in San Francisco.

I was born and raised in San Francisco. This City has, for so long, represented freedom for generations of people of color, lesbians and gays, immigrants, students, and ordinary folks seeking new opportunities. San Francisco is also home to progressive politics, where tolerance is important, as are libraries, parks and a well-run City government.

I have devoted countless hours to projects that directly impact the Latino and the Lesbian/Gay community. However, when I ran for Treasurer, I also stood on a legislative record of issues that are not necessarily Latina or Lesbian/Gay in nature. Among other things, I had chaired the Finance Committee of our County Board of Supervisors, putting together a balanced budget of $3.7 billion. I had also championed a number of projects that went beyond the boundaries of the queer or Latino communities: I authored public safety legislation to discourage red light runners, created a City Store to merchandise surplus City goods where at-risk youth and homeless persons can learn the retail trade, directed funds toward the establishment of childcare centers to offset the significant need created by welfare-to-work demands, and fought for increased drug treatment dollars.

As Treasurer, my goals include seeking the best return on investments with the lowest risk, making investments consistent with San Francisco’s socially responsible values, modernizing the Treasurer & Tax Collector’s office to make it more consumer friendly, and ensuring the fair and efficient collection of taxes and fees.

Of course, these issues are not particular to one interest group. Instead, they are based on good public policy. As elected officials, we are charged with building a bridge to the future that begins and ends with this premise. Ultimately, our civil rights movement will succeed, because it spans compassion and common sense.