SAN FRANCISCO -- State Assemblyman Art Agnos, the son of Greek immigrants, won a runoff election to succeed Mayor Dianne Feinstein Tuesday night, defeating Supervisor John Molinari by more than a 2-1 margin.
Agnos, who wrote his victory speech before the polls closed, appeared late Tuesday at a celebration with Molinari and many of California's top political leaders at his side and told his cheering supporters, 'We have the opportunity and the obligation to join together in one common purpose and put past campaign differences behind us.'
Molinari, who was cheered by Agnos backers, congratulated Agnos's army of volunteers for 'a tremendous victory and a tremendous campaign.'
Molinari pledged cooperation 'in making this city work' and said he would sit down with Agnos in a few days to discuss the problems which face the city.
With 90 percent of the vote counted, Agnos had 99,920 votes to 42,877 for Molinari, a margin of 69.5 to 29.8 percent with the rest write-ins.
Molinari, 52, conceded less than two hours after the polls closed.
Agnos, 49 said, 'Starting tomorrow morning, it's going to be one city with one future with room for everybody to participate in the decisions that affect us.
'We are going to govern with a can-do attitude.'
Volunteers for Agnos and Molinari worked feverishly all day, hustling their known supporters to the voting booths. Agnos was concerned that his strong lead in the polls might convince his backers they need not bother to vote.
The only other question put to voters was Proposition X, asking whether the city should lease air space above the downtown Broadway Tunnel to a nonprofit corporation for 70-unit low-rent housing for senior citizens and the disabled. It passed handily.
Agnos will succeed Feinstein, who is barred by law from a third term. The new mayor will be sworn in Jan. 8. An April election is planned to pick a successor for Agnos's Assembly seat.
Despite a comfortable lead in political polls, Agnos took nothing for granted and mobilized his highly organized grass roots volunteers in all of the city's 711 precincts, calling voters and if necessary, driving them to their polling places.
Molinari, who waged a media-oriented campaign with fewer volunteers, struggled to reach supporters in 200 targeted precincts of more conservative-leaning people like himself.
'We're going after the more center-right voters, Republicans and Democratic homeowners,' Jack Davis, the campaign manager, said.
Feinstein, who sered nine years as mayor, succeeding slain Mayor George Moscone and winning two terms of her own, will return to private life, traveling in the Far East and contemplating running for governor in 1990.
But she is sorry to be leaving City Hall.
'Two terms are not enough,' Feinstein said Monday. 'It's just not enough time to do all the things a mayor of a major American city needs to do.'
Molinari, a native San Franciscan and the son of an appellate court judge, served 16 years on he Board of Supervisors, identifying with his ally Feinstein and winning her endorsement.
A Republican-turned-Democrat in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Molinari was the favorite of the business establishment and developers, and led 10 other mayoral candidates until negative campaigning and public bursts of temper brought him down in the polls and left him trailing Agnos 25 percent to 49 percent after the Nov. 3 election.
Molinari had never lost a race, and served five terms as board president. He opposed expanded rent control, a one-year ban on single-family housing demolition, and tighter controls on downtown growth, while favoring homeporting the USS Missouri in San Francisco, and building a downtown baseball stadium to replace windy Candlestick Park.
Agnos favored stricter rent control, tighter downtown development and the housing demolition moratorium, and opposed homeportingthe battleship USS Missouri and a new ballpark for the Giants.
Chastised by near-defeat, Molinari changed his tack, appearing more congenial, regretting some of his tactics, and describing himself as 'a lamb.'
Agnos, a liberal from Massachusetts and the son of poor Greek immigrants, was a social worker before serving 11 years in the Assembly. He promised voters their voices would be heard at City Hall, told them what he stood for and urged them to read his book outlining his programs.
His campaign success overshadowed Molinari's attacks on Agnos for failing to pay his taxes and being involved in questionable financial dealings with Sacramento land developer Angelo Tsakopoulos.
He won endorsements of Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Attorney General John Van de Kamp, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and defeated-candidate Roger Boas, whose conservative supporters and strong business community ties were just what Agnos needed.