Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to run for state treasurer

Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has announced she’s running for California treasurer in 2026.

Schaaf, who served as mayor from 2015 to 2023, aims to replace Fiona Ma, the current treasurer, who plans to run for lieutenant governor in the 2026 election.

“After a year of research and reflection, I know the California Treasurer’s job is the perfect fit for my experience and passions, and I have a vision using the office to advance issues like equity, housing, safety, climate, and education,” Schaaf said in a post Friday on X, formerly known Twitter.

The state treasurer oversees California’s assets and the finances of key public programs, from affordable housing subsidies to teacher retirement funds. The treasurer is also the chairperson or a member of many state boards and commissions.

After terming out of office last year, Schaaf was the interim executive director of Emerge California, a group that trains Democratic women to run for office.

During her tenure as mayor, Schaaf made addressing the city’s dual homelessness and housing crises a top priority. While Oakland underwent a building boom over the past decade, high housing costs continue to strain many residents as the city’s homeless population has swelled.

Another one of Schaaf’s main goals, the development of the Oakland A’s proposed waterfront ballpark and housing project near Jack London Square, fell apart last year when the team announced it was decamping for Las Vegas.

Schaaf, who joined the City Council in 2010, was widely popular when she became mayor in 2015. She easily won reelection in a 10-candidate field in 2018. But her popularity waned toward the end of her second term as the city struggled with its pandemic recovery.

She left office as crime spiked across the city, and the surge in shootings and thefts has fueled criticism of current Mayor Sheng Thao and Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, who’s now the target of a recall effort.

Ma, the current treasurer, faces a civil lawsuit brought by a high-ranking former employee who alleges Ma made sexual advances toward her before firing her.

Judith Blackwell, the former head of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, alleged sexual harassment, racial discrimination and wrongful termination in the lawsuit, which was filed in July 2021, six months after she was fired. Ma has said the allegations are without merit.

The lawsuit alleged that Ma often rented hotel rooms and a home in Sacramento for staff to stay in after working late. Blackwell said that while sharing rooms, Ma called her into her bedroom several times, exposed her nude backside, and climbed into Blackwell’s bed with her at least once.

Ma said the incidents were not sexual and instead typical of what happens when people share a living space.

Other possible treasurer candidates include former Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblymember Phil Ting from San Francisco, according to the political news site Politico. Rendon has put $500,000 in his fundraising committee, and Ting has nearly $3.3 million. Both are Democrats.

With the announcement, Schaff, also a Democrat, appears to be looking to get a head start getting her campaign message before voters. If elected, she told Politico she would aim to use the treasurer’s financing powers to fund more affordable housing, expand college access for low-income families and back climate-friendly projects.

Schaaf has already received endorsements from high-profile Democrats, including former Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener, and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, according to Politico.

“As Treasurer, my top goal will be to build as much affordable housing in CA as possible,” she wrote in her post on X. “I’ll make sure our $ is put to work in ways that toughen & improve our infrastructure so that we prevent wildfires, maintain safe roads & transit, & expand clean energy for everyone.”