Jean Quan, Oakland’s First Woman and Asian Mayor

By Post Staff

Jean Quan, Oakland’s next mayor.

The instant runoff votes have been tallied, and it is now official. Jean Quan is mayor of Oakland. When she takes office in January, Councilmember Quan, 61, will become the city’s first female and first Asian-American mayor. “David has beat Goliath. We have shown that old-fashioned grassroots organizing and hard, honest campaigning can overcome big money, machine politics,” said Quan in a news release. When the final ballots were counted, she had received 53,778 votes to former State Senator Don Perata’s 51,720, beating him 50.98 percent to 49.02 percent. Perata had led with 33.73 percent of the total after first-place votes were counted. But Quan surged ahead when instant runoff votes were added to the candidates’ totals. In order to win, a candidate had to receive at least 50 percent of the votes plus one. Perata’s campaign and his supporters widely outspent those of the other candidates, and he had the backing of the Oakland Police Officers Association, the California prison guards’ union, Lt. Governor elect Gavin Newsom, Governor elect Jerry Brown and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Perata, speaking at his press conference Thursday after the results were announced, said he planned to “retire to citizenry.” Underscoring that he had no “quarrel” with how the election was conducted, he also emphasized that he had run a winning campaign. “I won by 11,000 votes in the popular vote,” he said. “To me if this were a normal election, I would be a landslide winner.” Perata hired Larry Tramutola, a veteran of many winning ballot measure campaigns, as his consultant. “I said all along that I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to unfold…Frankly, I didn’t believe you could game this,” said Perata, who had chaired the elections committee in the Sate Senate. “When I looked at this thing, I frankly didn’t understand (it),” he said. However, according to Judy Cox, former co-president of the Oakland Women Voters,  who was a Rank Choice Voting Facilitator for polls in the Redwood Heights district of Oakland,  voters seemed to understand the process. “I offered all voters assistance with Ranked Choice Voting. Almost everyone said they understood (it). Hardly anyone even asked me a question about it,” she said. A city hall observer who attended the press conference said Perata, like Dellums, could no longer appeal with their “old-school arrogance.”  He said, “It is sad that so much money was wasted on high-priced consultants who didn’t understand ranked voting. If Brown, Feinstein, Newsom and other state leaders hadn’t endorsed Perata, he would have finished in third place or lower.” Quan said Dellums had called to offer his assistance for an opportunity to work for Oakland. Steven Hill, a consultant to an educational nonprofit called Fair Vote, said in a statement that while Perata had a sizable initial  lead in the election, “(He) had more difficulty broadening his support base. To win under Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), a candidate must have not only a strong core of support but also a broad base… it means that more voters preferred Quan over Perata.” “With ranked choice voting, voters benefited from a vigorous campaign with a lot of viable choice,” said Rob Richie, executive director of Fair Vote. “Under the old, two round runoff system, there would have been five months of mostly negative mudslinging and a much bigger impact from big campaign spending.”
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