OP-ED: Political Potpourri: Thoughts on Politics in Oakland


Things are heating up in the Oakland mayor’s race. District 4 Councilwoman Libby Schaaf kicks off her campaign Saturday, March 1 at Penrose on Grand at 10 a.m.


Schaaf’s campaign is citing a new poll, completed by EMC Research, that shows Schaaf leading Quan 19-13 percent, with the other candidates trailing.

The biggest polled group, undecided, spells mayor’s trouble because after four years, she has not convinced the majority she should remain, however, Ms. Schaaf brings her results-oriented policies to this race.

Speaking of the mayor’s race, blood is in the water, as City auditor Courtney Ruby has splashed into the pool. There are now six viable candidates running, and you can expect more to appear.

Everyone has a puncher’s chance because of ranked choice voting.

For example, your next mayor could get 20 percent of the first-place votes, 25 percent of third-place votes and yes be your next Mayor with the majority of the second-place votes.

Ah, ranked choice voting, killing Oakland’s democracy one election at a time.

Kudos to Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney for asking the tough questions regarding Oakland economic development. She focused her sharp, Cal trained eyes on numerous questionable deals and asks the whys. Sniff the smell of accountability in Oakland.

Speaking of accountability, why is our current city manager constantly looking for a new job? The mayor justified her much ballyhooed hire as Oakland’s competent manager and paid her quite well for that reputation. Yet she spends so much time looking for another job.

Hey city, here’s a hint from the private sector: have a restriction clause in your employment agreement. If she wants to look for another job, there should be some type of financial punishment. Oakland should be repaid money, and she should resign immediately.

Look for a new job on your own dime. Better to have a committed Oakland manager than someone looking for her next job.

The BART gang keeps racking up more mistakes. After a year of record labor relations mismanagement, now the latest hit is maintenance. BART should focus on delivering quality service in clean, safe cars.

Is that really too much to ask for the high fares we pay?

The #1 BART hit is still its dysfunctional, ill-fitting police force. How many times do you see a Bart cop on a platform or a train? The force deals primarily with fare jumpers and car disturbances. Why are they not visible instead of spending so much time in autos?

A simple deployment solution: put a policeman on every Bart platform, station, and parking lot to make the system safer, and hopefully the police will be less inclined to use their deadly force.

Speaking of strikes, did you notice during the BART strike? Neither side mentioned quality customer service. Both Bart’s labor and management simply take the paying, riding public for granted.

Do not be surprised if the voters remember this next election.

Public service agencies and unions should be aware of voter backlash, like the harsh one in the 1970s that created Proposition 13, which is on the horizon. The public wants quality services for the taxes it pays. Instead, we are getting higher taxes and less service at lower quality. The “raise taxes” bubble will soon burst.

Oakland city services are a major issue in this mayor’s race. It will be interesting to see how all the candidates respond. Stay tuned.

Clinton Killian is an attorney in downtown Oakland at the law firm, Fried & Williams LLP, and a former public official. He can be reached at [email protected]

**UPDATE: This piece has been updated with a report from EMC provided by Schaaf’s Campaign which says she leads Mayor Jean Quan 19-13. It previously stated that Schaaf’s poll showed Quan receiving 18%, Schaaf 14%, and other candidates trailing.





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