Three candidates for Oakland mayor address top issues in the city

The clock is counting down until Election Day on November 6 and the candidates in the Oakland mayoral race are making their final push to voters across the city. 

The field is crowded with 10 candidates seeking office, which include incumbent Mayor Libby Schaff. 

Schaff, activist Cat Brooks and civil rights attorney Pamela Price are among the top three candidates in the race and they spoke to KTVU about some of the biggest issues facing residents of Oakland. 

“Getting people off of sidewalks and parks and into safety and services, our expansion of emergency shelters and particularly our innovated Tuff Shed program is giving people the dignity of going to behind a locked door with their partner, their pets and their possession,” said Schaff on the issue of homelessness. 

Brooks is taking a different approach and wants to see empty city-owned business used to house the homeless. 

“We can partition them, we can put bathrooms and showers in them and wrap that around with social services for the people who want them,” Brooks said from her campaign headquarters on Magnolia St. in West Oakland on Tuesday afternoon.

Price told us that she foresee fixing the homeless issue within the first 100 days of taking office. 

“Create safe shelter spaces and partnerships with the interfaith council, with non-profits, with other churches that are prepared to help house people,” Price told us when asked about her solution to the problem. 

On the issue of Prop 10, all three candidates support the rent-control measure that will be on the ballot in November as a way to fix the affordable housing issue in the city. 

“All those buildings that are going up have to include affordable units in them or pay to build them elsewhere. We've got two affordable housing bonds passed creating more than $200,000,000 to build new affordable housing,” said Schaff. 

Brooks insists that the current definition of affordable housing is outdated because many Oakland residents still don’t meet income qualifications. 

“We need low income, low-low income housing like for teaches, for artist for our elders. That's what I'm talking about when I talk about public land for public good. We've got parcels of city land that instead of selling it off to the highest bidder, which is what the current administration is doing, we can develop this type of housing on,” she said. 

For her part, Price told KTVU that she has a plan to provide affordable housing by using public lands to create below market rate and low income housing.  

“I want to unlock the vacant parcels that we have and use the vacant parcel tax as well as partner with absentee owners to make sure we can use that property. I want to open up and make sure we can use the facility.”

Among Price’s plan to address economic development is to address what she says are racial disparities.

I see that we have to invest is small businesses. I'm a small business owner and I employee literality hundreds of people and I know that small businesses have the capacity to do that if we grow them. I want to see us begin to look for other opportunity to bring back manufacturing and midsize companies here.”

Brooks says the city currently puts little to no dollars into its workforce development department, which she said would change, if she is elected. 

“We need to be attracting business to Oakland that share Oakland values and by that I don't mean big box stories. I mean companies that are concerned about the environment, that are pro union,” said Brooks. 

In terms of luring business to Oakland, current Mayor Schaff says companies are already coming to the city, so her administration is instead focused on helping Oakland residents grow their own businesses. 

“My economic development strategy is realty focused that Oaklanders benefit from the boom. We want our Oakland grown companies to thrive here and be the first the first in line as Oakland see a revitalization,” she said. 

On the issue of law enforcement accountability, Schaff says more has got to be done and express the need to strength the new independent citizen review commission. 

Both Price and Brooks say more transparency in the police department is needed.

Brooks says she also already helped introduce legislation that would do just that.