Mayoral candidates Joe Tuman and Bryan Parker have taken Mayor Jean Quan to task following the mayor’s controversial comments in an interview with the National Journal this week.
Her comments were totally insensitive,” said Tuman, a political analyst for CBS5 news on television and KCBS radio.
He has worked for the past 27 years teaching politics, law, and communication at San Francisco State University. What Quan said “implies that you should be concerned if African Americans are in your neighborhood,” Tuman said. “I don’t think she is a racist.”
“Race is a major fault line for us in Oakland,” he said. “We need to talk more openly about it, but this is not the way to provoke the discussion. The African American community is a source of our strength.”
Parker also criticized Quan.
“I’m sure many, as I was, were taken aback by these remarks,” Parker said. “I think the comments miss on two fronts. First, her comments suggest that her belief is that there is a negative stigma associated with having a high number of African Americans in Oakland.”
“Second, like many of her other actions, her comments lack the structure of thoughtful leadership,” he added.
Parker served on the Oakland Workforce Investment Board and is a member of the Oakland Port Commissiono. Also an attorney, he works as a health care executive.
As originally published, Quan spokesman Sean Maher said that the mayor’s answer was so “truncated” as to be distorted.
In the interview with the National Journal, Quan was asked: “What remains your biggest challenge?”
Her reply: “Well, my challenge is to let people know what the new Oakland looks like. “Somebody just sent me an email saying, ‘Oh, you should have more black police since more than 50 percent of your residents are black.’ And I’m like, ‘Actually, no, 28 percent of my residents are black, but we’re pretty evenly divided between blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians these days.’ But that’s their image of Oakland–and this is somebody who lives in the Bay Area.”
For Quan’s full interview with the National Journal, go to www.nationaljournal.com/next-economy/america-360/can-oakland-escape-san-francisco-s-shadow-20131006