Is Choosing Oakland’s Mayor a Bit Like Choosing a College?
Deciding how to vote for mayor this year seem to be on a par with choosing colleges as an 18 year old–with so much at stake and so many varied choices what’s the responsible thing to do with the information at hand. I have asked myself over and over what it is that makes someone a good mayor of Oakland according to my very subjective scorecard.
Here’s the spoiler: I wish Lynette McElhaney (Councilmember in District 3) were running. I’m tempted to just punt and write in her name but then I convince myself to suck it up and choose someone actually on the ballot–and I feel obligated to choose three! After I supported and continue to believe in ranked choice voting, isn’t it my god-given duty to buckle down and do this thing! It’s kinda like getting my taxes done on time. No one wants to do it but I need to keep my nose to grind stone and fill out the sample ballot.
Polls are showing Quan, Kaplan and Schaaf in a virtual dead heat since so many folks are still undecided and because of the complexities of rank-choice voting where someone can lose the first round and end up the winner (like Quan did four years ago). So I sift through the information from the Sierra Club (no endorsement), the East Bay Express (endorsing Libby–can’t go there), and talk to various friends inside and outside City Hall to get their take on the issues and personalities. And here is my very subjective but somewhat informed opinion.
I’m voting #1 for Dan Siegel because he is the most “progressive” candidate on the ballot with his background as a labor and tenant rights lawyer and his contention that we have enough police on the job (they need reform and oversight) and his emphasis on raising the minimum wage. Siegel parted ways with Mayor Quan over the Occupy protests which wins my huge respect but the cons for me are voting for a white men who by reputation is irascible and doesn’t seem to understand that Oakland desperately needs more housing at all levels, both market rate and affordable along the transit corridors.
I’m tempted to vote for Einstein the dog in my #2 position but will likely vote for Mayor Quan for either #2 or #3. I have many friends who support Mayor Quan and I do think she is challenged at communicating her successes such as a much better economic forecast and a significant reduction in crime. But I think the overall economy reviving and folks being pushed out of SF to Oakland are the real reasons why Oakland is doing better in the last 2 years rather than anything much Quan has done. Quan has personality challenges such as an inability to look folks in the eye and be focused on the task at hand. I was once at an hour long intimate meeting where she continually was on her cell phone texting. Bad form from the Mayor. Some folks applaud her for being at every event but I see that as a detriment. I want to see her less so I know she is hunkering down and working on the big issues, not snapping photos where more than 2 are gathered which she is wont to do.
The real reason I am voting for Quan for #2 or #3 is because I want a NEW mayor in 4 years and we already have an excellent prospect in Councilmember Lynette McElhaney. If any of the other folks are elected such as Kaplan or Schaaf, it will be possibly difficult to dislodge them. I have never spoken to Lynette about whether she has aspirations to be Mayor but she is the complete package which would serve Oakland well. First of all she is a unifying personality with emotional intelligence who holds a big tent for all of Oakland, a black woman who is charismatic, passionate, serious and fun, and who has the respect of other Council members, her staff and her constituents. How she manages to hold down another job as executive director for a non-profit housing organization in Richmond is beyond me but there you go. Her last child graduates from high school this year so she will have even more time and focus to concentrate on improving our City. She is not afraid to vote on the hard issues (unlike Kaplan who often abstains) and I appreciate her standing up for those of us who don’t accept the status quo, whether working to get the waste management contract out of the control of a virtual monopoly or serious questioning of the land give-away that is the current thinking of the ill-conceived Coliseum City.