SAN FRANCISCO - With just one month until San Francisco's special election for mayor, the League of Women Voters held a forum Monday night, with seven candidates taking a seat on stage to answer questions. One noticeable absence was Board of Supervisors President London Breed who said she had a previous obligation.
"I'm so sorry Supervisor London Breed couldn't join us," said former state Sen. Mark Leno, who had a slight lead in a poll taken in mid-April, with 29 percent of voters saying he'd be their first choice compared to Breed's 27 percent.
Leno called for more local hiring by tech companies, expanding subway lines to Geary Boulevard and Mission Bay, and taking landlords to court for unlawful evictions.
"We need to make sure that those who have a home, stay in their home. Seventy percent of those living on the street were under a roof when they became homeless," said Leno.
Supervisor Jane Kim, who came up third in the poll with 17 percent, touted her progressive agenda.
"I stayed in one of our shelters and I learned some of the minimum wage staff members often don't have the resources or skills to address the demographic that's coming in we have to change that," said Kim.
The moderator read audience questions, some specifically on issues impacting the surrounding neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley.
"Whoever becomes mayor must make environmental justice for Bayview and Hunters point and Treasure Island a main focus the time is long past due," said Amy Farah Weiss, a candidate and fair housing advocate.
Many of the candidates have already appeared at a dozen or more forums, repeatedly addressing issues of homelessness, affordable housing, trash and transportation.
Angela Alioto said she would build coalitions bridging tech companies and activists to work on economic, housing and transportation issues. She said she also would crack down on people dumping illegally.
"In my opinion they ought to be fined and after 2-3 fines, they ought to face a serious act as far as the law is concerned," said Alioto.
Republican Richie Greenberg said his concern is for families no longer being able to afford living in the city. He also suggests holding a FEMA-style triage for homeless people.
"We will bring everyone who is homeless, all the most chronically homeless and bring them to that location so they are off the street, they are safe, warm and clean...so we can triage those who are mentally ill," said Greenberg.
Some faces, though, were not so familiar as several candidates took the stage who have not been included in other events. Monday's forum gave Michelle Bravo an opportunity to share her views, saying tech companies need to be held accountable for housing and transportation problems.
"The lack of transparency in the rush to build, housing behavior that is perpetrated by city hall, that doesn't really work now does it," said Bravo.
Ellen Zhou, who says she's running against government corruption, fighting for the city's poorest neighborhoods and people.
"Government accountability. If the people in charge are not doing anything about illegal dumping. Tell them to get out of their job and let someone else who knows how to do it, do their job," said Zhou.
One man, Antoine Rogers, got up on stage and was later persuaded to step aside. He said he is a write-in candidate for mayor and was given a few minutes to address the crowd.
Organizers say another forum will be held next week at 6:30 p.m. Monday May 7 at Broadway Studios in North Beach.