Said Yaroslavsky: ”There comes a point in one’s personal and political life when you get more satisfaction out of doing meaningful things then by merely being perceived as doing meaningful things. I love what I do; you make and enforce policy on major issues like welfare, health and land use; no one but the mayor gets [to work with] this wide a range of issues.‘’
And unlike city government, he continued, the supes have a jurisdictional-power monopoly: “There are no checks and balances here, but this can be a plus if you want to get things done.”
More than he could as mayor? “I personally think that here, I‘m making more of a difference in ways that I want to make a difference.’‘ These include human-focused matters that lie outside the city’s range -- such as children‘s services, health care and the general improvement of the lot of the 30 percent of county residents who have no health insurance. Yaroslavsky said: ”If these people all had a county to themselves, that would still be the third largest county in the country.“
You get the sense that Yaroslavsky now feels he’s begun to outgrow the raffish and sometimes controversial figure he cast in the city. Where, for all of his accomplishments, he was one of the few council members ever to be censured by his colleagues, and where, as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, he was as renowned for his sharp deal-mongering as for his fiscal sense. A little self-consciously, he now refers to City Hall as ”the scene of the crime.
“Meanwhile, there‘s my effort to see changes in the county charter. There’s an entire agenda of changes that can be made.‘’
And what if a pending state initiative imposes supervisorial term limits that would have Yaroslavsky off the board by 2006? Or even if, should the limits measure fail, he decides not to run again that year, at age 57?
There are other options, outside electoral politics, he said, noting his longstanding interest in international and national matters. ”I‘ll still be a fire breather,“ he said.