Housing and homelessness dominated a spirited debate among five mayoral hopefuls Monday night at the Castro Theatre, where the audience was more aggressive at times than the candidates.
The event, sponsored by KQED, Horizons Foundation and the Bay Area Reporter, was billed as an LGBT-themed discussion among the top five mayoral candidates, as decided by recent polls. But there was a last-minute shakeup when former state Sen. Mark Leno bowed out, citing a health issue, about 90 minutes before the debate was scheduled to start.
That left former Supervisor Angela Alioto, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, businessman and lone Republican Richie Greenberg and Supervisor Jane Kim on stage with KQED politics editor Scott Shafer as moderator.
But as the event got underway, candidate Amy Farah Weiss fought her way onto stage and demanded she be allowed to participate. After security tried -- and failed -- to stop her, Weiss was ultimately allowed to stay.
The drama stayed high from then on. The audience heckled, booed and drowned out nearly every candidate at some point as they worked their way through four rounds of questions. There were few surprises -- but a lot of drama and some laughs -- as most of the candidates stuck to their long-standing positions on issues.
Angela Alioto won cheers for her one-liners and insistence that the city needs to compassionately house homeless people and clean the streets. She was light on policy details for accomplishing those goals, repeatedly insisting that the plan she worked on with former Mayor Gavin Newsom, known as Care Not Cash, was working, but was defunded when Newsom left the mayor's office.