Despite coming from different backgrounds and representing different districts, San Francisco’s two new supervisors have similar goals — to move the city past the ideological battles of its past and focus on the youth that will represent its future.
London Breed and Norman Yee on Tuesday were sworn in as the two newcomers to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, both having won hard-fought races in November’s election.
Breed, who represents District 5, which includes the Western Addition, Fillmore, Haight-Ashbury and Hayes Valley neighborhoods, grew up in a public housing complex in the district and said that experience will inform her service as supervisor.
“When you grow up under those kinds of conditions, you always remember what it feels like,” Breed said.
Although the board’s committee assignments have not been announced by board president David Chiu–who was re-elected to that post by his colleagues during Tuesday’s inaugural meeting–Breed said she hopes to be appointed to the budget committee.
“You’re able to get the money, get the resources,” she said. “I know how we can make the dollars effective for various departments.”
Yee, who represents District 7, including West Portal and other neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks in the southwest part of the city, is now the eldest member of the board at 63 years old but joked that “it doesn’t mean that I’m the wisest.”
He said he hopes to serve on the public safety committee, citing a particular interest in pedestrian safety after being struck by a car while crossing a street in 2006.
Yee said he hopes to see reduced speed limits in certain neighborhoods of the city.
“With speed limits more than 25 mph, you have to ask the question ‘Why?'” he said. “For every mile-per-hour increase, it becomes more life-threatening.”
Yee said he also wanted to look at ways to better synchronize traffic signals to improve pedestrian safety and to fund traffic education programs in the budget.
Both Yee and Breed have experience in working with children–Yee as a member of the school district’s Board of Education since 2004 and Breed through her tenure as executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex in the Western Addition.
Both also attended the city’s Galileo High School, albeit years apart.
Breed said between herself, Yee and Supervisors Eric Mar and Jane Kim, who served on the Board of Education as well, “We have a very kid-friendly, family-friendly, public school-friendly Board of Supervisors.”
Yee and Breed both also don’t fit into the ideological battles between progressives and moderates of past terms of the Board of Supervisors and could serve as swing votes on various issues that will come before them.
“I probably will have some opportunity to have a swing vote,” Yee said. “I’ll make my decisions as the issues come.”
Breed said, “You can say that we’re either moderate or progressive, or this or that. These terms have been distorted in the worst kinds of ways to divide our city.”
She said, “It’s a disservice to vote on ideological lines and not issue by issue.”
Breed won in November by besting Christina Olague, who had been appointed to the board by Mayor Ed Lee after then-Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was elected sheriff in 2011 and took office last January.
Yee, meanwhile, won one of the closest supervisor races in the city’s history by narrowly defeating labor leader F.X. Crowley by 132 votes after six rounds of ranked-choice voting.
Breed on Wednesday evening had to work out of a conference room at City Hall rather than her office there because Olague had not vacated the office until Monday night and it was being redone for the new supervisor.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News