Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has been in a long and drawn out battle of wills with the city's police commission almost since she took office in January. And the latest drama in that fight came with her rejection of a slate of three finalist candidates for the next chief of police that the commission sent to her desk earlier this month.

It was the week before Christmas when the Oakland Police Commission, following a candidate search that lasted over nine months, forwarded their "final" list of three candidates for the top job in the Oakland Police Department. We didn't know at the time who the candidates were, and we still didn't know Wednesday evening when Mayor Thao announced she was rejecting all three and sending the commission back to the drawing board.

But predictably, given internal drama that's been reported on at the commission, and given the public sparring that has gone on between Mayor Thao and the commissioners, one of those three candidates was indeed the man Thao fired in February, longtime OPD veteran and Oakland native LeRonne Armstrong. As KTVU reports via a source close to the situation, the candidate were Armstrong, current San Leandro Police Chief Abdul Pridgen — who is himself on leave amid an investigation into undisclosed "policy violations" — and and Kevin Hall, the current assistant police chief in Tucson, Arizona.

Several members of the Oakland City Council and some segment of the police department remain supportive of reinstating Armstrong, particularly following a September arbitrator's report that cleared Armstrong of wrongdoing in the matter over which Thao fired him.

Thao has maintained that she lost confidence in Armstrong amid the internal-affairs scandal involving a police officer whose actual wrongdoing had allegedly been mishandled under Armstrong's watch. And critics, along with Armstrong himself, have noted that Thao has appeared to choose sides with Federal Monitor Robert Warshaw, who has been monitoring the OPD for nearly two decades under court order — and there has been some suggestion that under Armstrong's leadership, that federal monitoring was close to ending, which would put Warshaw out of a lucrative gig. (Read more about the scandals that led to the federal monitor order here, here, and here.)

"I've said from the onset of this that I was not guilty of any of these allegations that the facts will come out in this case and when the facts did come out, I felt like I will be vindicated, and today is that vindication," Armstrong said at a press conference in September, the days that the arbitrator's report was released.

Armstrong added at the time, "My termination was never really about the facts or my ability to lead the Oakland Police Department — my termination was about Federal Monitor Robert Warshaw and the mayor's failure to fight for the Oakland community."

Following that non-binding arbitrator's report, Thao reiterated that she would not be willing to reinstate Armstrong, and she even threatened to declare a state of emergency in September over the drawn-out candidate search.

That same month, the drama boiled over at an Oakland Police Commission meeting in which three members decided to boycott, denying the commission a quorum — apparently amid in-fighting over whether to re-nominate Armstrong for the chief job.

Thao issued a statement Wednesday, upon her rejection of the candidate list, saying, "The Oakland Police Chief leads a critical component of the Mayor’s comprehensive community safety strategy. Mayor Thao thanks the Oakland Police Commission for their continued service and looks forward to working with the commissioners to select the best possible candidate for Oakland."

Marsha Peterson, the chair of the police commission, issued an equally emotion-less statement, saying, "We respect the Mayor’s decision to ask for a new list of candidates. The Oakland Police Commission will continue to perform our duty under the City Charter to review candidates and provide recommendations to the Mayor."

But as KTVU reports, members of the city council were a bit clearer about their feelings, expressing frustration about how long this search has taken, as well their support for reinstating Armstrong.

"I’m frustrated that #Oakland is BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD on solving a public safety leadership crisis that was completely avoidable in the first place," said Councilmember Loren Taylor, who ran against Thao for mayor and has publicly supported Armstrong.

Armstrong himself issued a statement Wednesday, via PR agent Sam Singer, saying, "It is unfair that I am unable to continue to serve and protect the people of Oakland. As a native of Oakland, nothing gave me greater pleasure and pride than to work in my community and fight to improve it."

Bob Jackson, the bishop of the Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland and a member of the local chapter of the NAACP — which previously called on Thao to reinstate Armstrongtells the Chronicle that the commission appears to not be acting in good faith, especially in forwarding Armstrong as a candidate.

"We are just in a quandary as to what’s going on," Jackson tells the paper. "It’s like some kind of game that’s being played with the citizens of Oakland."

And as civil rights attorney Jim Chanin, a former member of the police commission's selection panel, tells KTVU of the commission's latest salvo, "It's in your face. Because everyone knew that the mayor wasn't going to accept Chief Armstrong, and we have to get serious about this. This is a serious selection. We have a lot of crime in Oakland. We can't play political games at the expense of the citizens of Oakland."

As of now, Darren Allison continues to act as interim chief of the OPD. Armstrong was the city's 10th chief of police in about ten years — and at one point, amid an earlier scandal and search for a new chief in 2016, the city administrator temporarily was put in charge of the department.

Previously: Oakland Police Chief Search Down to Three Candidates, Still Mired in Controversy