Many undecided voters attend San Francisco mayoral debate watch party

Less than a week after San Francisco's first mayoral debate, the five major candidates went head-to-head again Monday evening. 

This time, the San Francisco Democratic Party hosted the debate at the UC Law campus, where the group reminded voters of the city's ranked-choice voting. Voters should not just keep their top choice in mind.   

The SF Standard hosted a watch party at its office for a few dozen voters. 

The debate gave Mayor London Breed, former interim Mayor Mark Farrell and San Francisco Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin a chance to tout their accomplishments and defend their records in government. Non-profit executive Daniel Lurie said as an outsider, he has fresh ideas, and his inexperience as a politician is what makes him stand out.

The candidates clashed over how to handle the city's most pressing issues - reducing crime, increasing tourism, revitalizing downtown, and combating the fentanyl and overdose crisis on the street.

"Most likely what will happen to downtown, since office space is hard to fill, like how it will transform itself into something else," resident Maic Lopez Saenz said of the issue that concerns him the most. 

He was also interested to hear how the candidates would make San Francisco more bike-friendly. 

For the most part, voters came with open minds. 

"I'm pretty open, I feel like I'll default to London Breed, but she's fine," said Leslie Carr. "I can still be convinced."

Sarah Vega is an undecided voter and healthcare worker in Marin County, who said she voted for Mayor Breed in the last election. She's most concerned with the city's public health crisis.

"I'm looking for more patient-centered solutions to this crisis that's affecting not just here but national," she said. "I'm looking for more forward thinking."

SF State associate professor of political science Jason McDaniel came to see how the candidates interacted with each other.

"Honestly, I usually don't decide until the day of the election or the day I fill out my ballot, because I think about this stuff a lot," said McDaniel. "I'm not always thinking about what I'm going to do, I'm thinking about what other people are going to do, so I often usually don't make my choices until that last possible moment."

McDaniel said what was most noticeable during the debate was the tension between Mayor Breed and Mark Farrell. They criticized each other over their policies when it came to policing, for example.

During the debate, the candidates also had the chance to ask another candidate a question. Some took the opportunity to test their knowledge of the city. 


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