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Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf, shown here Jan. 3, 2011, has declared her intention to run for mayor.

OAKLAND -- Councilwoman Libby Schaaf made it official Monday. She's running for mayor.

"I'm very excited to take an optimistic, can-do message to the voters," Schaaf said after filing paperwork to raise money for next year's campaign.

Schaaf, whose bid to unseat Mayor Jean Quan had been an open secret for weeks, is seen as an early favorite. Quan remains dogged by low poll numbers, and the other two well-financed challengers -- Port Commissioner Bryan Parker and San Francisco State Professor Joe Tuman -- have never held elected office.

"Given the fact that Schaaf is a member of the council and that she has some name recognition, it puts her as one of the main frontrunners, I assume," Oakland-based political consultant Larry Tramutola said. "But it's too early to tell what the field will be."

In a prepared statement, Quan said she "won't be commenting on potential candidates."

Schaaf, 48, is an Oakland native who worked on the staffs of both former Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente and then-Mayor Jerry Brown. She won election to Quan's former council seat in 2010, representing a district that includes much of the Oakland hills.

During her three years in office, Schaaf has championed using technology to improve government services and sponsored bills to increase civilian staffing in the Police Department and make the city's budget process more transparent.

Two months ago, an Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce poll found that Schaaf is far more popular than Quan in their district and that citywide nearly two-thirds of respondents viewed the mayor unfavorably.

City politics have been dominated in recent years by concerns over rising crime and a shrinking, embattled police force that has fallen under unprecedented federal oversight. Oakland has led the nation in robberies per-resident since 2011.

"I think that Oaklanders deserve to have the police come when they call," Schaaf said when asked why she was running for mayor. "I've been very frustrated with the level of services and the speed of progress in this city."

Schaaf said she will unveil specific policies early next year.

In a year that has seen several high-profile city figures rule out a mayoral bid, Schaaf's entry in the race guarantees that Quan will not be pitted against a field of City Hall outsiders.

Tuman, who finished fourth in his 2010 mayoral bid, said he considered Schaaf to be a friend, but questioned whether an establishment politician was right for the job. "You're not going to get fundamental change from inside City Hall," he said. "Real change comes from the outside."

Schaaf, Tuman and Parker are all moderates by Oakland standards. With the field situated to the political right of Quan, there is still the chance that a more progressive candidate could enter the race. Speculation has centered around Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. She deflected recent questions about whether she might run for mayor.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435