Monday night saw another SF mayoral debate, this one largely dominated by the topics of crime and homelessness, but Aaron Peskin refused to show because he felt the organizers already had the fix in for Mark Farrell and Daniel Lurie.  

Now just under four months out from November’s San Francisco mayoral election, the third mayoral debate was Monday night at the Golden Gate Park County Fair Building. But with five major candidates running, one of them was not there. Supervisor Aaron Peskin skipped this debate, saying of its organizers, "The Stop Crime SF/Stop Crime Action debate will be moderated by Marie Hurabiell, a Trump appointee to the Presidio Trust Board of Directors and leader of Connected SF, which is also backed financially by [William] Oberndorf's Neighbors for a Better San Francisco."

Peskin is correct on the merits of one thing, in that Stop Crime SF, one of the many redundantly named tech political action committees proliferating in SF these days, is indeed funded to the tune of $750,000 by Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, according to Mission Local. But the debate was not moderated by Marie Hurabiell — KTVU’s Amber Lee did those honors — though the rather Republican-leaning Hurabiell was afforded the chance to give a speech prior to the debate.

And yes, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco has already endorsed Mark Farrell and Daniel Lurie, so the suspicion of bias is not unfair.

Moreover, DA Brooke Jenkins, who herself was on the take for $150,000 from Neighbors or a Better San Francisco while claiming to be a volunteer for the Recall Chesa Boudin campaign, was given a “Crimefighter of the Year” award before the  debate. As noted above by her opponent and former SF assistant DA Ryan Khojasteh, this sure seemed like a campaign promotion for Jenkins's reelection bid.  And adding to the infomercial aspects to this debate, as Mission Local points out, wealthy tech donor and Twitter provocateur Garry Tan had bins of aguas frescas placed out saying “Aguas Frescas donated by Garry Tan.”

But the debate itself was largely fair, and moderated with integrity. You can watch the whole affair below, though the first 30 minutes is just Jenkins getting her fake “Crimefighter” award and Hurabiell giving her speech.

The first question was about last week’s fatal shoving of 74-year-old Corazon Dandan in front of a BART train. Farrell leaned in with his law-and-order rhetoric, saying, "When we have incidents like this, when people are pushed in front of BART trains, when people are assaulted with hate crimes on Muni buses and throughout the city of San Francisco, that speaks to a failed approach."

And Farrell spent the whole night pushing his tough guy role calling for more cops and clearing homeless tents. But he got away with an absolute howler of a lie, claiming of his six-month interim mayoral tenure in 2018, “all the large tent encampments were gone by the time I left office.” That has not been the case in this city for decades!

Supervisor Ahsha Safai took a more humane approach to that same Corazon Dandan question. “First and foremost, let’s recognize that the lady that was pushed into the train worked for 40 years at the St. Francis,” he told the crowd. “She was a hotel and restaurant worker from Local 2. She insisted, despite her family’s pleas, she insisted to take public transportation every day.”

Mayor London Breed was ganged-up upon over the crime issue, and seemed to anticipate she would be. “I don’t know any other mayor that is making not only arrests of those dealing drugs on the streets of San Francisco, but also people who are using drugs,” Breed said of her fentanyl crackdown, adding that her efforts had “led to this significant decline.”

Levi Strauss heir and nonprofit founder Daniel Lurie kept to his typical political-outsider approach.“My opponents bring experience in a broken system that has failed to make our community safe, address our drug and homelessness crisis, and make San Francisco more affordable,” he said Monday night. “The same City Hall insiders that got us into this mess won't get us out.”

This was a fairly solid and clean debate, certainly with no clear winner or loser. And it did not have the booing and jeering of the first debate, nor the technical glitches of the second debate (barring a couple slight malfunctions by Breed’s and Farrell’s microphones).

And the candidates basically just recycled their old lines from the two previous debates. The notable exception was a zinger from Farrell, taking aim at Peskin’s absence and talking about vacancy taxes, when Farrell criticized “My little friend’s approach, who isn’t here.”

Related: In First SF Mayoral Debate, Crowd’s Jeers are More Memorable Than Candidates’ Performances

Image:  KTVU via Youtube