Mayor Schaaf faces challengers at Oakland mayoral debate

Election Day is less than six weeks away and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is running against a long list of challengers. 

The top three of those challengers faced off with the mayor for a debate Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church on Broadway, where the debate portrayed the city at a crossroads. 

Voters can stay the course or choose a new direction. Mayor Schaaf believes she's earned a second term. her opponents, as you would expect, disagree. 

"Oakland was ranked as the second most violent city in America and there was not a single construction crane," Mayor Schaaf said describing 'The Town' as she found it. 

"I am ready to finish the work that I have started and deliver a thriving equitable city," Schaaf said. 

But not so fast, say her opponents who lay Oakland's problems at City Hall. 

"The Oakland that we knew will not be here in two years. We will not survive another two years under Mayor Libby Schaaf," Candidate and civil rights attorney Pamela Price said. 

Marchon Tatman, a housing specialist, is also running for the position. He said rents have doubled in the last four years, along with homelessness. "Everything doubled in the past four years except wages," he said. 

Community activist Cat Brooks calls Oakland "broken." 

"We cannot fix it with an administration that disrespects and disregards the voices of our most impacted Oakland community members," said Brooks. 

Schaaf and her challengers were quizzed on five topics; homelessness— with 6,000 people on the streets, denser housing and putting units in more affluent areas, and business— particularly tech and its role in shaping the city. 

"We cannot afford to have development that is not balanced, that does not leave behind and destroy the fabric of this community," candidate Price said. 

Other issues discussed included policing and Oakland Police Department's relationship with the community. 

"As long as we have a name attached to any of these homicides, one homicide is a problem for me," Tatmon said. 

Finally, illegal dumping, a plague in Oakland, seemed to touch a nerve.

"If we can do it in the hills, we can do it in the flats," Brooks said accusing the mayor of ignoring poor neighborhoods. "In our mayor's neighborhood there was not mattresses and piles of garbage and dead rats and needles."

But Schaaf fired back. 

"It's not true. The more important piece is we have got to change behavior. It is not acceptable to dump your trash anywhere," Schaaf said. 

 Schaaf highlighted her record and her defiance toward federal immigration policies that made her an administration target. 

"I also am proud when we stood up to Donald Trump when he came for people in our community," Schaaf said to which the audience applauded. 

Pews at the church were far from filled, but voters still have time to make their decisions in this race. 

One topic not discussed: ranked choice voting and whether any of the mayor's challengers will band together as a one-two strategy to try and upset Schaaf.