Mistah F.A.B. Moderates Oakland Mayoral Debate

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Rapper and songwriter Mistah F.A.B. was in his hometown of Oakland Tuesday moderating the mayoral debate between seven of the 10 candidates. 

“We need a change to come,” he said. “Today is about figuring out a way to engage without being enraged.”

The candidates are in the running for the seat being vacated by term-limited Mayor Libby Schaaf.

With property crimes on the rise and murders at a historically-high rate in Oakland, policing and police reform were top of mind for all of the candidates.

“That means we need to stop defunding the police and attacking the police,” said candidate Ignacio De La Fuente. 

“The city is in a riot,” said candidate Seneca Scott. “We lost the rule of law. We need to get it back. It’s not Libya.”

Housing activist Scott and former councilman De La Fuente support significant increases in OPD officer numbers and tougher enforcement.

And candidates Greg Hodge and Sheng Thao have supported keeping the current staffing levels, filling current vacancies and prioritizing police responses to the most serious crimes.

“When someone blocks your driveway with their car, that shouldn’t be a sworn officer coming to write a citation and move your car,” said Hodge.

Thao, the current council president, and one of the frontrunners in polling, took offense to statements that Oakland has defunded police.

Rapper, entrepreneur and community organizer -- born and raised in Oakland -- Mistah F.A.B. is set to moderate a town hall meeting with mayoral candidates and current city council members. NBC Bay Area’s Marcus Washington sat down with the Oakland legend to talk about his city, one day after a very big honor from his hometown.

“We spent $18 million, historic funds, in violence prevention, violence interrupters, 8% of what OPD’s big ol’ budget is, and yet you want to say we defunded when that never happened,” said Thao. 

Current Councilmember Loren Taylor endorses moderate officer number increases and investing in technology and experts to solve the most serious crimes.

“Bring the preventive resources that empower and uplift our community, while also being firm, because there are certain things that we can’t allow to occur in our city, because it puts our residents in harm's way,” said Taylor. 

“Criminal investigators, when we’ve got 1,000 unsolved homicides,” said candidate Treva Reid. "Mothers like me, waiting on a measure of justice.”

And labor union attorney Alyssa Victory said police are already funded at a high level, but they need to be managed better.

“Because we have really low 911 emergency response times,” said Victory. “We have a failing crime solve rate, and it’s because we can’t police our way out of every social problem.”            

There were also spirited discussions on how to better empower Oakland youth and how to address homelessness and the growing number of homeless encampments across the city.

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