San Francisco swears in new Board of Supervisors

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU & BCN) -- The city of San Francisco on Monday seated the first female-majority Board of Supervisors in 22 years with the swearing in of four new supervisors and three re-elected incumbents.

Newly elected supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer, Hillary Ronen and Ahsha Safai were sworn in today along with AIDS activists Jeff Sheehy, who was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to replace Scott Wiener following his recent election to the state Senate.

Also sworn in were recently re-elected supervisors Aaron Peskin, Norman Yee and London Breed.

Fewer and Ronen together helped bring the board to a female majority for the first time since 1995, along with supervisors Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Katy Tang and Breed. In addition, Breed was re-elected unanimously as board president.

"Any dynamic affects legislation," said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents District 10, which includes the Bayview Hunter's Point and Potrero Hill neighborhoods.

The newly sworn-in board today also marks an apparent shift in the board's political orientation, with the election of Safai to replace outgoing Supervisor John Avalos marking the end of the board's progressive majority.

The board is now dominated by supervisors expected to vote with the moderate faction, which tends to be more friendly to the policies of Mayor Ed Lee.

"You've got swing voters like myself, you got swing voters like London, probably Jeff Sheehy will be a swing voter as well, meaning that we're taking the issues issue by issue," Cohen said. "We're not wedded to a political ideology and I think that's where San Francisco has gotten in trouble. San Francisco is fluid, we operate in a gray area. We're all Democrats here so it's a varying definition of what being a Democrat looks like, feels like, and how it manifests itself."

Lee today acknowledged the historic makeup of the board, noting that Sheehy is the first openly HIV-positive supervisor and that it appears the majority of legislative aides are also female.

"One person called me a bulldog," Sheehy said through laughter. "I have mellowed since I've not been involved in politics, I've got a daughter and she's certainly taken me down a couple of notches."

Sheehy replaced Scott Wiener who vacated the District 8 seat , which includes Noe Valley and the Castro, when Wiener was elected to the state Senate in November.

Lee marked the occasion today with a call for unity to a board that has recently been marked by open division.

"This moment in time is like nothing else we've ever faced in San Francisco," Lee said, referring to the impending presidency of Donald Trump. "More than ever we need to be unified and protect the values that our city has been built on. When we work together, we have found success."

Male supervisors expressed support for the predominately female board.

"I think it's great that we're going to have majority women," said Supervisor Mark Farrell. "The one thing that I am really excited about is that for the first time, perhaps ever, we're going to have a majority (of) parents on the Board of Supervisors."

Breed today used her re-election to call for the city to "provide a hand up" to the homeless, the poor, minorities, immigrants and others who feel "unwelcome and unsafe."

She noted that she herself had once been the recipient of such help when she was a young girl living in public housing with her grandmother.

"I climb the stairs to this dais because a community looked out for me and because San Francisco believed in me," Breed said. "To every San Franciscan who feels uncertain or alone now, you are seen and you are loved and you are one of us."

Former Mayor Willie Brown said the public should expect big things from this board, including some hard solutions to the city's affordable housing crisis.

"I think this whole business of how do you make living space available for people in this city... this board is going to challenge itself trying to solve that issue," he said

KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty contributed to this report.