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John Shelley


In office
January 8, 1964 – January 8, 1968
Preceded by George Christopher
Succeeded by Joseph Alioto

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 5th district
In office
November 8, 1949 – January 7, 1964
Preceded by Richard J. Welch
Succeeded by Phillip Burton

Born September 3, 1905(1905-09-03)
San Francisco, California
Died September 1, 1974 (aged 68)
San Francisco, California
Political party Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic

John Francis "Jack" Shelley (September 3, 1905 – September 1, 1974) was a U.S. politician. He served as the mayor of San Francisco, California, from 1964 to 1968, the first Democrat elected to the office in 50 years, and the first in an unbroken line of Democratic mayors that lasts to the present (as of 2009).

Shelley earned a law degree from the University of San Francisco in 1932. He served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II and was a member of the California State Senate from 1938 to 1946. He ran an unsuccessful race for the Lieutenant Governor's office against Goodwin Knight in 1946. Shelley would then make his mark as a leader of the California delegation to the 1948 Democratic National Convention, when he would help marshal his state's votes to support a strong civil rights plank. Shelley entered the United States House of Representatives in 1949 and served until 1964, when he ran for mayor of San Francisco and won by a 12-point margin against his opponent, Harold Dobbs.

Shelley's term as mayor was filled with challenges, including strikes over discriminatory hiring practices against African-Americans at the Palace Hotel, a public nurse strike in 1966, and a threatened San Francisco Symphony Orchestra strike in 1967. Shelley was mayor during the Summer of Love, a time of radicalism in the Haight-Ashbury and turmoil throughout the city. Shelley was faced with riots in Bayview-Hunters Point on September 27, 1966, after a white police officer fatally shot a black youth accused of auto theft. Shelley declared a state of emergency in the city for six days. After the riots ended, Shelley took several public steps to improve relations between city government and the African-American community. He appointed the city and county's first African-American supervisor, Terry Francois. Shelley took an aggressive stance against several prominent anti-development mobilizations during his tenure, including movements in opposition to development at the Yerba Buena Gardens and in the Western Addition. Shelley bowed out of running for a second term in office; his stated reasons were health-related, but it was thought that prominent political forces in the city's establishment wanted a more stringently pro-development mayor in office.

Shelley's son, Kevin Shelley, was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1990-1996, a member of the California State Assembly from 1997 to 2003 and served as California's Secretary of State from 2003 to 2005.

Shelley is not to be confused with Jack Shelly.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Richard J. Welch
United States Representative for the 5th Congressional District of California
1949 – 1964
Succeeded by
Phillip Burton
Political offices
Preceded by
George Christopher
Mayor of San Francisco
1964–1968
Succeeded by
Joseph Alioto
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