Assistant Pastor Jaqueline Thompson provided opening remarks at the mayoral forum on Sept. 19. Photo by Sue Taylor.
Mayoral Candidate Saied Karamooz raised a point that stirred the waters of the Allen Temple Baptist Church candidate debate this week.
“We have a humanitarian crisis in our city. Eight-six percent of the homeless are formerly housed residents of Oakland,” he said.
Candidate Cedric Troupe echoed the need to help local residents, expressing the need for better education in Oakland’s “broken” schools.
About 300 people listened closely to nine of 10 mayoral candidates at a forum Wednesday night, hosted by the Public Ministry of Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland.
Speaking were current Mayor Schaaf, Jesse Smith, Ken Houston, Cat Brooks, Pamela Price, Marchon Tatmon, Saied Karamooz, Cedric Troupe, and Nancy Sidebotham. Peter Liu was not present.
The 2018 campaign season is underway, and no assumption that the incumbent will prevail can be made. Disparity in environmental conditions, homelessness, failing infrastructure, and rampant development causing displacement, were some topics of the question/answer format.
In a year when women are a greater presence in public life, Assistant Pastor Jaqueline Thompson presided over the event, Public Ministry head Sheila Fuller welcomed everyone, and Rev. Charlotte Williams, director of communications, moderated the discussion.
Candidates were asked specific questions and questioned each other. The forum scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m., lasted until after 9 p.m., and most of the attendees stayed.
A number of candidates repeated, “This wouldn’t happen in Montclair,” and those attending agreed. Tent camps, trash, and transportation were part of this theme.
But housing and homelessness issues dominated the debate. Tuff Sheds are not a welcome “solution,” and Ken Houston stated that city-owned properties need to be used for housing.
A rousing cheer went up when Cat Brooks said, “Yes on Prop. 10,” to repeal the state Costa Hawkins law so rent control can be expanded.
While Mayor Schaaf claimed progress and success, Houston said, “the City has a 200 percent success rate with property development goals, but only a 4 percent success rate providing affordable housing.”
Several candidates responded to Mayor Schaaf citing reports – one a Rockefeller-funded equity study – saying, “Reports are not enough. We need action.”
Both Cat Brooks and Pamela Price said, “We know what needs to be done.”
“Transportation should work for everyone in Oakland, so they can go anywhere they need to at a reasonable cost. That’s not happening now,” said Marchon Tatmon.
The Oakland Police Department’s failure to complete court-ordered reforms was not specifically mentioned, but Cat Brooks reiterated a point she made at the August Democratic Party debate. “If we could police and incarcerate our way into safety, we’d be the safest city in the world,” she said.
Mayor Schaaf’s reply to the criticism was, “I won’t apologize for what I’ve done.” But folks were not satisfied with the Trumpian strategy of claiming success where there is little or none.
Schaaf was questioned after the forum about a news article in which she praised a new North Oakland development that will charge up to $8,000 a month rent, saying she is for “housing at any price.”
Asked for a comment by the Post, she said, “I do think it’s wrong to kill market rate development, as happening in some cities (like) Berkeley.”