Disappearing poles - Page 2

New supervisors Breed and Yee help create a less predictable board

London Breed (left) and Norman Yee celebrate on election night.

That was where Yee developed his deep appreciation for the role that small, neighborhood-serving businesses play in San Francisco. In an era before credit cards, he would offer credit lines to local customers struggling to make ends meet; that experience showed him how stores like his family's were essential parts of the city's social and economic fabric.

"That's why I value small businesses," Yee said, calling that his top focus as a supervisor. "They're going to have a bigger voice now."

Yee draws a clear distinction between the interests of small business and that of the larger corporations that dominate the powerful San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Asked where he might have placed on the Chamber's recent scorecard ranking supervisors' votes — where Yee's predecessor, Sean Elsbernd, got the highest marks — Yee said, "Probably not on their A list. They are just one entity in San Francisco and I'm not going to be judged just by them."

At 63 years old, Yee is by far the oldest member of the youngest Board of Supervisors in recent memory, while Breed, at 38, is closer to the current average. Yee hopes his age and experience will help him forge compromises among all the supervisors.

"People draw their lines, but I try to listen to people and see where their lines are," Yee said. "It's a balancing act, but at the same time, there's things I've been working on all my life, like education and safety net issues, and this district does care about those things. At the same time, they care about their homes. Are these issues in conflict? I don't think they have to be."