Mayoral Hopefuls Face Off in SF

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Bevan Dufty is just one of the men hoping to become the next mayor of San Francisco.

    Nine candidates vying to become the next mayor of San Francisco  gathered for their first debate Thursday evening

    The event was a cordial and collaborative effort,  much like they said the candidates said it would be if elected in November.

    The mayoral candidates gathered at the University of San Francisco  for a Mayoral Forum on Service, which focused on issues affecting community  service and education in the city.

    State Sen. Leland Yee, Supervisors David Chiu and John Avalos,  City Attorney Dennis Herrera, former Supervisors Tony Hall, Bevan Dufty and  Michela Alioto-Pier, City Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and venture capitalist  Joanna Rees made up the nine candidates invited to tonight's debate.

    More than 30 candidates have filed to run for mayor in what could  be a wide-open race. Interim Mayor Ed Lee, who took over when former Mayor  Gavin Newsom was elected the state's lieutenant governor, has said he does  not plan to run for reelection.

    The debate was free of arguments between candidates, which  was partly due to the forum's format, which only allowed for opening  statements, answers to prepared questions, and a brief closing statement.

    But the friendly atmosphere may also have been because of the  city's ranked-choice voting system, which requires voters to list their top  three picks for the position, and will likely require the candidates to align  with some opponents in order to get second- and third-place votes.

    Many of the candidates described their upbringing and experience  in public service or the business sector, and answered questions about how  they might deal with looming budget deficits and how they can help struggling  neighborhoods in the city.

    "These are very tough times for cities around the country," Avalos  said. "Local governments are forced to do more with less."

    Many candidates said collaborations between the government and  community groups were essential to maintaining the quality of life in the  city.

    "The best we can do in government, we achieve when we have the  involvement of the community," Herrera said.

    Yee said, "We have to keep the notion of community participation  alive" to counteract dwindling help from the state level.

    Dufty said San Franciscans know how to "find common ground in this  very small, special place."

    Some candidates touted their accomplishments in public office.  Chiu said he has helped change the tone at City Hall since becoming the  president of the Board of Supervisors three years ago and is helping to  formulate a pension reform plan to help lessen the city's budget deficit.

    Ting said his work in launching GoSolarSF, the city's first  municipal solar energy incentive program, has led to "a cleaner and greener  San Francisco," including solar panels on four times as many house rooftops  now as there were when the program started in 2008.

    Hall touted his 30-plus years of experience in various city  departments, and accomplishments as a supervisor, including restoring the  Ocean Avenue commercial district and Harding Park Golf Course, while  Alioto-Pier talked about her work as a policy advisor in the Clinton White  House and advocate for the disabled.

    Rees, the lone candidate among the nine with no public sector  experience, emphasized her business background and commitment to innovation.

    "I'm not part of the City Hall crowd," she said.

    She said if each of the candidates were as open to embracing  innovation as she is, "I would be supporting them and not running."

    With the subject of the forum being service, and all of the  questions asked by students from USF and local high schools, all of the  candidates encouraged youth to go volunteer and help their community during  these tough economic times.

    "We do have problems, but this is an exciting time," Alioto-Pier  said. "San Francisco has always been a place of adversity, but we've always  won."