Libby Schaaf , The Mayor of Oakland elected (no pun intended) to release her annoucement of 2018 Oakland City Council Race endorsementss early. Check the date: June 29th 2018 – the election is November 6, 2018. But, from The Mayor’s perspective, it gives her room to hold events and fundraisers for her choices for Oakland City Council.
So, the letter the good Mayor sent is below, but my comments on her choices are interwoven into it. The reason is because in some cases I patently disagree with her decisions, and for pointed reasons that speak to the very future of Oakland. That’s not a to be taken as a swipe at her one bit: two Oaklanders who are long time really good friends can disagree. That said, here we go.
Mayor Schaaf’s Letter
We have critical City Council elections this fall that I hope will inspire your involvement. No matter where you live in Oakland, EVERY Councilmember profoundly affects the quality of life for all Oaklanders. I urge you to support all of these excellent candidates, regardless of your Council District.
Mayor Schaaf On District 4
My former seat and the district where I and my family live is important to me indeed! While Annie Campbell Washington’s decision to not seek reelection is profoundly sad for many of us, we do have an excellent crop of candidate choices.
I’m a fan of ranked choice voting. I believe it’s good for voter engagement and campaign civility. IT IS IMPORTANT YOU EXERCISE YOUR FULL DEMOCRATIC POWER TO VOTE FOR 1ST, 2ND AND 3RD CHOICES WITH OUR RANKED CHOICE SYSTEM. And that’s why I’m giving ranked endorsements. All the D4 candidates I interviewed had many strengths and likeable traits, but I looked most for 1. Ability to develop and set policy; 2. Ability to develop and manage the City’s budget; and 3. Personal integrity, a public servant’s heart, a strong congenial & collaborative disposition and solid progressive values.
First Choice: Chris Young
Chris brings solid local government experience through his work for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. His political values and commitment to public service through his extensive work with President Obama resonates with me. He currently runs legal for Go Fund Me, and I’m particularly impressed he has served on the Oakland Public Ethics Commission. Smart, warm, Can-do.
Second Choice: Charlie Michelson
Charlie is a 3rd generation Oaklander, born and raised in District 4 and a fellow Skyline grad! He is bursting with love for Oakland and optimism for its future. His community service is impressive – serving on the Boards of East Bay Agency for Children and Feather River Family Camp, as well as supporting Oakland Promise scholarships. He worked his way up to taking over a shipping supply company in West Oakland, creating hundreds of good jobs here over the past 25 years.
Third Choice: Pamela Harris
Pam is an impressive political activist, documentary filmmaker and nonprofit financial consultant. She exudes warmth and wisdom. She currently serves as a delegate to the California Democratic Party and has devoted her career to issues I care about, such as youth development, violence prevention, health care reform, LGBTQ rights, racial and socioeconomic inclusion, and – yes — fiscal management.
All three – Chris, Charlie and Pam – are parents to young children.
Zennie Abraham’s Oakland City Council District 4 response: although Chris Young’s an outstanding person, candidate, and friend, I hold that Nayeli Maxson should be District 4’s first choice. As of now, Ms. Maxson has the most endorsements from politically-involved District 4 residents, like Bruce Nye of Make Oakland Better Now. The Executive Director of Alliance for Community Development of the San Francisco Bay Area also is the only candidate who has experience working in the Oakland City Council and in District 4, having worked very well for the incumbent Councilmember Annie Campbell Washingon for a year. Annie should be backing her as first choice. This is no swipe at Chris, but Nayeli’s got the most experience in D4.
As for the second choice, Joseph Tanios 18 years of experience as a City of Oakland Public Works employee, plus the fact that he’s well-known and respected by many make him a great second choice. He needs to shore up his endorsement list, but his knowledge of how Oakland works is invaluable.
Finally, I’ve decided to leave the third choice open. There are a lot of incredible people on that list – too many, in my view, to make a choice so early. And who’s running? Well…
Sheng Thao, for example, is the Chief of Staff for Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, and has served Oakland very well in that capacity.
Mayor Schaaf On District 6
One of the most important things we can do this year to improve Oakland government is place an ethical and positive leader into this Council seat. It is CRITICAL D6 voters exercise ALL THREE OF YOUR RANKED CHOICES for these viable challengers to the incumbent.
First Choice: Loren Taylor
Loren is a 3rd generation Oaklander, nonprofit & small business consultant and PTA President. He brings impressive professional problem-solving skills (he has a degree in Biochemical Engineering & an MBA!) and community volunteer experience from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, to Scouts, to 100 Black Men. I knew him as a Dad long before I knew him as a candidate. He’s passionate about social justice and can analyze a balance sheet. He’s the real deal.
Second Choice: Natasha Middleton
Natasha is a long-time D6 resident and self-professed budget nerd. She works as an Analyst for Alameda County’s Probation Department and serves on Oakland’s Safety & Services Oversight Commission. Her detailed and pragmatic platform is impressive. Emerge grad. She’s upbeat, a policy wonk and would hit the ground running.
Tied for Third Choice: Marlo Rodriguez & Mya Whitaker
Marlo has worked as a registered nurse for 25 years. She volunteers for No Coal Oakland, Operation Access and the Greenlining Institute.
I’ve known and admired Mya for more than 5 years when we met through her role at the Bay Area Urban Debate League. Another Skyline alum, she would bring a wealth of personal experience, heart and persistence to the job. She has served as my youth appointee to the Citizens Police Review Board and Police Chief Selection Panel and recently graduated from Emerge.
Zennie Abraham’s Oakland City Council District 6 response to Mayor Schaaf: The best candidate for Oakland City Council District 6 is the incumbent Desley Brooks. Ms. Brooks is wildiy popular in District 6, and has a fiercely loyal following. Much of what Desley does, including her 2018 Juneteenth Party, goes without note by some, but not by the people who matter the most: District 6 Oakland residents.
Second choice should be Natasha Middleton. I agree with what Libby wrote, but The Mayor forgot, for some reason, to add that Natasha worked for her as a policy advisor.
Third choice, I’m leaving open for now.
As for Loren Taylor I personally like Loren, but I can’t support him right now, however I’m happy to interview him (and all others) because people need to decide for themselves. Two reasons:
First, his completely classless decision to crash Desley Brooks Juneteenth Party, then whine to some media outlet that took his position and published his photos where he was campaigning on at her event, and in a way that looked like a public relations setup, just made me sick. That’s not Oakland – not the Oakland I want. For Loren, who’s black, to allow himself to be seen as being disrespectful to a sititng Afircan American Oakland City Councilmember is purely disturbing. And this is something I explained to Loren privately via phone.
Second, Loren has not articulated any real understanding of what Oakland’s problems are, or offered real solutions. What he did in his publicity stunt was to upset some Oakland elected officials, two who called me to complain about what he did on Monday of this week – that’s how I found out about it. Mr. Taylor’s campaign may think that the only press out there is, well, press, and so be it, but Loren should spend time getting press for his own events and initiatives, and not punking Desley Brooks. It’s not something Councilmember Brooks has ever done, so that action on Mr. Taylor’s part was horrible, ungentlemanly, and unnecessary.
What Loren did to Desley reminded me of the tactics of Oakland Real Eatate Broker Ted Dang used during his run for Mayor of Oakland in 1994. I was a new economic development columnist for The Montclarion, then. Ted worked to embarass Oakland City Councilmembers, and on claims of corruptions that were eventually unfounded.
Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris won his second term in a landslide.
Mayor Schaaf On District 2
Incumbent Abel Guillen is facing a serious challenger, but truly deserves your continued support. With a Masters in Public Policy from Berkeley, he’s been a progressive and pragmatic policymaker. Super smart, hardworking, compassionate. Abel has done an excellent job as finance committee chair and on our budgets. Elected by his peers as President Pro Temp of the Council, he works well with his colleagues – including me.
Zennie Abraham’s Oakland City Council District 2 response: Councilmember Guilen’s in a tough battle against Nikki Bas. That said, his work in District Two is to be applauded and he has too many legislative successes. What Abel has to address is a couple of of misteps that are, in fairness, best asked to him directly. Most notably, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission complaint filed by housing activists. Abel’s response to the complaint, according to the Oakland Post, was “This is nothing but a political red herring—they should have checked the facts.” The Oakland Post has the complete story here. Read the Oakland Post.
Mayor Schaaf, continued…
I urge you to make contributions to any or all of these excellent candidates – before Saturday at midnight if possible. I urge you to get involved with a local campaign this summer (in addition to mine) – or convince an Oakland youth to get involved. National politics are so infuriating right now, supporting excellence in your local leaders is well worth your time.
Always, with Oakland-love,
Zennie Abraham’s response: Love you back, Libby! I just disagree on the endorsements. Folks, regardless of your choice, I urge you to get out and vote. If you’re not registered to vote, please do that ASAP.
To the candidates, I look forward to meeting and interview all of you. My style is to have you tell your story.