Dec 10, 2022 - Politics

San Francisco's most powerful people in 2022

San Francisco Power Players

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

San Francisco is the epicenter of Big Tech — so it's only right that our metro has a lot of powerful people who call it home.

As 2022 comes to a close, we wanted to reflect on who's made the biggest difference in our city this year.

How it works: We reflected on 2022's headlines, considered what's coming in the year ahead, and polled our most plugged-in readers and sources to determine who has shaped SF.

  • The unscientific list is produced entirely by the Axios Local editorial team and is not influenced by advertising in any way.
  • People who made the power list were not notified of their selection until publication.

London Breed

Photo illustration of San Francisco Mayor London Breed with lines radiating from her.
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Mayor London Breed was thrust into the spotlight in December 2017 following the sudden passing of then-Mayor Ed Lee.

  • Breed is the city's first Black female mayor.
  • Her mayorship has centered on public safety, homelessness and housing. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Breed was lauded for her early and aggressive efforts to contain the virus' spread in San Francisco.
  • Yes, but: Breed's tenure has not been without controversy. In September, for example, the Coalition on Homelessness filed a lawsuit alleging Breed ordered city workers to relocate homeless people, violating the city's own policies.

Biggest move of 2022: Breed went 83% in the successful elections of her 2022 appointees, including District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and two school board members.

  • Her outsized influence on this year's midterm election helped cement San Francisco as a still-liberal city that skews more moderate.

What we're watching: We're curious to see if theories about Breed wanting to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate or Congress in 2024 hold any water.

Recall groups

School Board Recall San Francisco signs
Photo: Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

A number of people and groups contributed to the high-profile recall elections of three school board members and the district attorney.

Biggest move of 2022: Leading the recall efforts of four elected officials in San Francisco.

What we're watching: If we can go at least one year without another recall election.

Manny Yekutiel

Manny Yekutiel
Photo: Courtesy of Manny Yekutiel/Devlin Shand

Since 2018, Manny Yekutiel has hosted regular civic discussions at his namesake cafe and community space Manny's in the Mission, drawing big names like Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), reporter Kara Swisher and Mayor Breed.

  • Yekutiel is also one of seven board members for the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, which recently voted to make the pandemic-era Slow Streets program permanent.

Biggest move of 2022: He had an idea this year that lighting up Valencia Street would bring "strength and vitality" to the neighborhood, which, like other commercial corridors in the city, needed a boost after the height of the pandemic.

  • With help from major donors like Zynga founder Mark Pincus, he made it happen. String lights now illuminate over a dozen other corridors across San Francisco thanks to Yekutiel.

What we're watching: Will he double down on bringing residents together with events like the weeklong All Out SF celebration he put together this fall, or will he focus on climbing the city's political ladder?

Vincent Yuen

Vincent Yuen
Photo: Courtesy of Refuse Refuse SF

Vincent Yuen wants to keep San Francisco clean and empower others to address their neighborhood trash troubles.

  • Since starting Refuse Refuse SF last year, Yuen's volunteer group has organized over 700 cleanups and picked up more than 175,000 gallons of garbage.

Biggest move of 2022: This summer, on the longest day of the year, Yuen embarked on a sunup-to-sundown trash pickup that spanned the entire 7.2 miles of Mission Street — from the edge of Daly City to The Embarcadero.

  • Yuen and the volunteers who joined him filled 118 garbage bags that day, fittingly dubbed: "On a Mission on Mission."

What we're watching: Yuen insists that in areas where he regularly hosts cleanups, litter has dissipated over time. If that's the case, can Refuse Refuse and its volunteer network of over 6,000 residents actually start to make a dent in our city's trash problem?

Honey Mahogany

Honey Mahogany
Photo: Courtesy of Honey Mahogany

San Francisco Democratic Committee chair Honey Mahogany is a longtime activist, social worker and staple in SF's LGBTQ community.

Biggest move of 2022: She ran a historic campaign for District 6 supervisor, putting up a solid fight against mayor-appointed incumbent Matt Dorsey in an attempt to become the first-ever transgender supervisor in SF.

What we're watching: Mahogany said she's "not going anywhere" and looks forward to working with Dorsey to build housing, stop the fentanyl crisis and help small businesses.

Chris Larsen

Chris Larsen
Photo: Courtesy of Ripple

Chris Larsen is a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur, starting E-Loans in the 1990s and more recently, the crypto company Ripple.

  • The billionaire has funded a network of private security cameras throughout the city over the last decade that he says is meant to deter crime.

Biggest move of 2022: Larsen was the largest donor this year to Grow SF, a rising political action committee that counted several victories in November. He also gave $1 million to the SFPD to boost morale across the ranks.

What we're watching: It will be interesting to see where Larsen deploys his cash next in San Francisco, especially since he doesn't shy away from controversial undertakings, like his camera network.

  • And, he doesn't necessarily follow the convention of other high-powered tech execs, as seen in his backing of former District Attorney Chesa Boudin during this year's recall, despite Grow SF's support of the recall.

Pickleball community

Pickleball players at the Louis Sutter court in McClaren Park.
Pickleball players at the Louis Sutter court in McClaren Park. Photo: Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

SF's pickleball community represents a melting pot of people from all walks of life, generations, races and genders. The thing they all have in common is their love of the sport that mashes up tennis, badminton and ping-pong.

Biggest move of 2022: Going toe-to-toe against the tennis community for more pickleball courts, arguing there are underutilized courts that could be converted.

What we're watching: Whether the pickleball community can convince SF's Recreation and Park Department to give them more courts, and whether the department decides to modify some tennis courts in Stern Grove to meet demand.

Go deeper: See all 200 of Axios Local's Power Players in 2022


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Francisco stories

No stories could be found

San Franciscopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more