Ma missing for final debate

Candidates for the District 12 Assembly race — minus one leading contender — squared off in a final debate Tuesday night, criticizing negative campaigning, calling for expanded health care and blasting the use of eminent domain for private profit.

Janet Reilly, wife of real estate mogul and former political consultant Clint Reilly, took on Republican candidate Howard Epstein and Green Party member Barry Hermanson. The candidates took turns criticizing the negative campaign, which has centered on Reilly and Democratic primary opponent Fiona Ma, who didn’t attend the debate.

Ma wasn’t able to attend, her campaign consultant said, after the debate was called off on Friday, then rescheduled. “We scheduled two community events after it was called off,” Tom Hsieh said.

Reilly and Ma are locked in a close race for the Democratic primary election on June 6 to replace Assemblyman Leland Yee, who is campaigning for the state Senate. District 12 includes San Francisco and parts of northern San Mateo County. The winner of the June 6 primary will be a strong favorite in the heavily Democratic district come November’s general election.

In addition to criticizing negative campaigning, all three candidates said they support universal health care and oppose eminent domain when used to allow for private development. Candidates disagreed on their support for the Ellis Act, which allows San Francisco property owners to get out of the rental business and evict tenants.

“I would fight anything that went against [the Ellis Act],” said Epstein, a property owner himself. Limiting the selling of apartments as condominiums, which opponents to the Ellis Act have proposed, would hamper middle-tincome people from owning homes and staying in The City, he said.

Reilly and Hermanson both called for reforming the Ellis Act to require greater notification for displaced residents and the disclosure to potential buyers of who was forced out prior to the purchase.

“I would certainly try to craft legislation to increase notification and possibly require owners to own the property for five years before selling it,” Reilly said.

ecarpenter@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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