‘We feel overlooked': Candidates' forum takes on Tenderloin's concerns

Six candidates battling to become San Francisco's next mayor faced off at a forum in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood Wednesday night at Saint Bonafice Church. 

Community organizers say the Tenderloin is part of the city that's the most densely populated with children and families. It is also beset by open drug dealing, homelessness, a lack of affordable housing and dirty streets. 

"Candidates need to address all the different constituencies in the city and this neighborhood oftentimes, we feel overlooked," said Karen Taylor, a Tenderloin resident.

Five Democrats and one Republican told the crowd how they would solve those problems. revealing their visions and divisions..

Former California State Senator Mark Leno said his top goal is to end street homelessness by 2020. 

"Whether it's the human waste, the  syringes, or all the refuse it is a symptom as is the drug dealing and other crime, of the problems of homelessness," said Leno, who also said he would create mental health centers as an alternative to jail time and build 5,000 housing units per year. 

Former supervisor Angela Alioto said streets are not being cleaned and would replace the Department of Public Works director with someone else. She also said she'd be tough on drugs. 

"The drug dealers need to be arrested. We need to get from the very bottom of the drug dealers to the top dog of the drug dealers who's putting out all of these drugs in our great city," said Alitoto.

Board of Supervisors president London Breed said growing up poor in the city helped her realize that services need to be more accessible.

"As mayor, I will make sure that the services for the community are provided and I will also make sure we have more police officers out of their cars and walking the streets and addressing those issues" said Breed. 

Richie greenberg the lone Republican, said he wants more affordable housign for families..and has three goals.

Richie Greenberg, 
"the three important core values of my candidacy which are accountability, quality of life and law and order."

Supervisor Jane Kim said she'd increase affordable housing and double the number of street cleaners. She also said she'd seek to  expand programs that have proven effective. 

"It's partnering with our police officers, with safe passages our volunteers who make sure every afternoon our school children get safely home and after school programs. And investing in social servcies," said Kim.

Amy Farah Weiss called for a pipeline to prosperity for poor residents and suggested taxing large companies.

"That would actually take gross receipts from companies that make over $50 million a year and it would put that into rental subsidies to keep people in their homes. It would give us $300 million a year," said Weiss.

When asked to raise their hands if they supported opening drug injection sites, the five Demcorats said yes, Greenberg said no.

"I could feel their passion," said Melinda Lee, a San Francisco resident, "I really feel the affordable housing and really providing housing for all income levels is a top priority,"

"I was a little bit disappointed they weren't able to go (longer), they had another 45 minutes so why they couldn't ask more questions?" said Samantha Degennaro, a Tenderloin resident.

Many said they were just glad to see the Tenderloin and its challenges in the spotlight.