The Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) has given $1,400 in campaign contributions to Viola Gonzales, who is running for District 5 City Council seat against incumbent Noel Gallo, according to a campaign finance disclosure form.
Gallo, who has been on the council since 2012, has generally been an advocate of the police and had the backing of the Oakland police union when he ran for City Council in 2012.
More recently, Gallo played a strong role in supporting the citizens’ police oversight commission, working closely with the local police accountability coalition to get the measure on the November ballot.
He says he believes that this is why the police union has chosen to financially back his opponent.
“I can honestly say that I’ve supported the Police Department and increasing police in Oakland since I was elected,” Gallo told the Post.
“But when it comes to the police commission, you have to remember that I am elected to represent the public—not the police union. And at the end of the day, the citizens requested that we establish a police commission,” Gallo said.
According to Gonzales’ campaign consultant, Mitchell Oster of Eveleth Group based in San Mateo, the OPOA’s endorsement is a product of Gonzales’ ability to bring people of different views together.
“Her main message to all of District 5 is that her campaign and candidacy is about trying to bridge gaps between people on different sides of the message,” said Oster.
Oster also said that Gallo may have done something as a member of the City Council that cost him the police union’s support.
“It makes you wonder why (the police union) would not support him now,” Oster said. “Maybe there’s something he’s done to turn his previous supporters into opponents, and it makes you wonder about his leadership.”
Gallo said, “It’s my duty to honor the citizens who are paying my salary and who are living here, not those who just come to collect a paycheck and then leave the city.”
The OPOA did not reply to several phone calls seeking comment on why they are choosing to back Gonzales.
The Post reported last week that Mayor Libby Schaaf is also backing Gonzales, donating the maximum individual contribution of $700 to her campaign.
A representative of the mayor told the Post that she would announce her endorsements next week.