A San Francisco mayoral debate is being held Tuesday evening, the first since Public Defender Jeff Adachi made a surprise last-minute entrance into the race on Friday.
The debate, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the University of California at San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center, is being organized by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, a coalition of business, labor and community leaders in the city.
Adachi, who announced his candidacy on Friday just before the deadline to file papers passed, joined an already crowded field of mayoral hopefuls, including interim Mayor Ed Lee, who made the controversial decision to run after pledging not to when he was appointed in January.
Lee and nine other candidates are scheduled to attend Tuesday’s debate, according to Vince Courtney, executive director of the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth.
The other nine candidates are state Sen. Leland Yee, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisor John Avalos, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, former supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Bevan Dufty and Tony Hall, and venture capitalist Joanna Rees.
It was unclear as of this afternoon whether Adachi would join the group for Tuesday’s debate.
Courtney said he did not know whether Adachi was attending, while Adachi said he had not even received an invitation to the debate.
The public defender said this afternoon that he was going to spend the first part of the week organizing his campaign, and was planning on making his first debate appearance at a forum on Thursday hosted by the Fillmore Neighborhood Association and the District 5 Democratic Club.
Adachi is backing a pension reform measure on the November ballot that is competing with another pension reform measure put on the ballot by Lee and other city officials, a topic that will likely get increased attention in the upcoming debates.
“He shakes things up quite a bit,” Courtney said. “He’ll put pension reform right up front, and some of the candidates will have to change their strategies.”
Adachi acknowledged that in a phone interview this afternoon.
“I expect pension reform will continue to be an important issue,” he said. “When you talk about affordable housing, or jobs … they’re all contingent on having the resources in order to provide these services.”
Whether or not Adachi attends Tuesday’s debate, the format of the event should lead to some interesting moments, Courtney said.
Phil Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS5 are moderating the debate and will ask each candidate a different question in the opening round. The questions are coming from social media and other sources.
Then in the second round, each candidate will have the opportunity to ask a question of another candidate and have them respond, Courtney said.
The format could allow many candidates to go after Lee, who was criticized by several of them for joining the race last week, but if they all address the mayor, “they’re going to give him a whole lot of time” on the microphone, Courtney said.
The debate will then wrap up with a third round featuring more questions from the moderator and final statements from each candidate.
The 7:30 p.m. debate is also being preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m. in honor of former San Francisco mayors, including Gavin Newsom, Willie Brown and Frank Jordan.
The debate will be broadcast on Comcast channel 104. A limited amount of tickets for the event, located at 1675 Owens St., will also be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
People interested in attending can send an email to the alliance at email@example.com.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News