OAKLAND >> Even before December’s horrific Ghost Ship fire, 2016 had been a trying year for Oakland and its mayor, Libby Schaaf. An affordable housing crisis. A police department roiled by a teen sexual abuse scandal. A revolving door of police chiefs. The Oakland Raiders packing for Las Vegas.
Then, the deadliest fire in the city’s history killed 36 people attending a dance party on Dec. 2, and the city stood still. Four days after the fire, at a vigil at Lake Merritt, frustration reached a personal level as those gathered — many from the arts community close to Schaaf’s heart — expressed their anger directly at the mayor. Boos rained down as she stood at a podium.
The moment illustrated the delicate, nuanced world of running this East Bay city, a place that always seems to have its share of highs and lows. But whatever positive developments 2016 brought for the city were quickly overshadowed by challenges and crises that culminated with the Ghost Ship tragedy. The question now is, are those lows enough to tarnish Schaaf’s budding legacy?
“No matter what I have personally done as mayor, I am the face of government,” Schaaf said Friday. “I often feel the anger and disappointment that people have in government failures, but I also have the great pleasure of being the face of Oakland, an incredible city in an incredible moment of time.”
A RISING STAR
Schaaf, 51, is seen as a rising star by political observers. First elected to the City…
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