Supe charms business groups

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The business community has found a champion of its interests in the newest member of the Board of Supervisors.

The politics of the recently elected District 4 Supervisor Ed Jew are welcomed by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and other business groups who have feuded with the Board of Supervisors over a number of issues recently, from the employer-mandated fee to help fund The City’s universal health care access program to the requirement of paid sick leave.

Jew, who was sworn in to his post on Jan. 8, has made his political position clear, one that essentially echoes the chamber’s agenda.

When he was sworn in, Jew said he would oppose any legislation that adds to small businesses’ “already enormous burden.”

“My agenda is the helping of small businesses,” Jew reaffirmed at Wednesday’s chamber forum, where he was invited to speak for an hour.

Following Jew’s comments, Jim Lazarus, the chamber’s vice president, said, “We’re a little taken aback because we haven’t heard this sort of language in years.”

Jew’s business-friendly agenda is no mystery, as he is a third-generation San Francisco native whose family has run the well-known Canton Flower Shop in Chinatown for the last80 years. Jew understands the challenges businesses face in San Francisco, Lazarus said.

Jew set himself apart from the Board of Supervisors when talking about The City’s universal health care access program, which the board unanimously approved last year.

“By mandating and handcuffing businesses right off the bat with no long-term strategic plan, I think is wrong,” Jew said. He said The City needs to further study the program and suggested the employer mandate would cause businesses to “pack up and that those remaining are going to have to pay the brunt of it, and I’m against that.”

Jew struck a chord with the business owners when he said, “If we can’t change the laws to really help the businesses, let’s tweak them so that every little ordinance saves us money so that we can stay competitive and we can hire more people.”

Lazarus said Jew could help keep the progressive politics of the Board of Supervisors in check. “It would be nice if he was kind of a voice of reason — raise the issues, call his colleagues to account when necessary, hopefully craft compromises and at the very least bring four people back together to give the mayor support when vetoes are necessary,” Lazarus said.

His election is also expected to ensure Mayor Gavin Newsom a safe vote of support on a cantankerous board. Jew, who took the seat of Newsom ally and former Supervisor Fiona Ma (now 12th District assemblywoman), is expected to align his votes with Newsom’s other allies on the board.

E-mail Joshua Sabatini at jsabatini@examiner.com.

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