San Francisco mayoral candidates spar in 1st debate

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, June 13, 2024
San Francisco mayoral candidates spar in 1st debate
The five major candidates running for San Francisco mayor participated in their first formal debate on Wednesday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dozens gathered outside the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon. All of them, there to show their support for the person they hope becomes the city's next mayor.

Inside the theater, the five major candidates running for the job participated in their first formal debate.

Current Mayor London Breed defended her record since taking office.

Breed saying the city is on the rise again, and that her leadership has steered it through some of its toughest challenges - including homelessness.

"Right before I was elected mayor, tent encampments were 58% higher than they are today. In fact, I've increased our shelter capacity by over 60%. I've increased our permanent supportive housing by over 50%," Breed said.

MORE: SF mayoral candidates gather for 1st public forum of campaign

Other top issues included crime and public safety.

Businessman Daniel Lurie, who came under attack for his lack of governmental experience, said all of the politicians on the stage seemingly couldn't fix the problems plaguing the city despite their years in government.

"We need a fully staffed police department. We need a fully staffed sheriff's department. 911 dispatch office also needs to be fully staffed. And, frankly, the last two mayors have underwhelmed on this issue," Lurie said.

The cost of housing was another key talking point, with all five candidates saying more units need to be built.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has been accused of being anti-development, says if he was mayor he would find ways to fast track new developments while still preserving the character of the city's neighborhoods.

"In my own district, I've built every kind of housing: affordable, market rate and homeless shelters. And I've never voted against any affordable housing," Peskin said.

MORE: San Francisco mayoral candidate Mark Farrell announces universal childcare policy

Candidates were also asked about their plans to revitalize the city's downtown.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai saying he sees the current office vacancy rates, which sit at all-time highs, as an opportunity to transform the city like never before.

"I put forward legislation that would allow us to create a downtown public education district. We have a historic opportunity to purchase buildings and turn them into universities," Safai said.

The city's infamous $1.7 million public toilet also getting a shout during Wednesday's debate.

Former Interim Mayor Mark Farrell saying it's another example of the bureaucracy at City Hall that's holding San Francisco back from tackling its most pressing problems.

"Endemic how our city government is spending its money today. To me, we have to completely rethink not only our budget process, but also how we are allocating our city funds," Farrell said.

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