As the June 6 primary approaches, Oakland mayoral candidates have stepped up their games and are preparing for the last leg of their respective campaigns. Last week, the major candidates used a made-for-cable-TV debate to outline their platforms and display their personalities to Oakland's voters.
The Oakland mayoral election has faced much controversy as of late, with candidates receiving more attention for the mud they've been slinging at each other than the politics they promote. Last week's debate showed a different side of Oakland politics, candidates focused on elevating themselves rather than undermining their opponents.
With current Mayor Jerry Brown leaving after an eight-year term, many people in Oakland have called for a mayor who will shake things up and help the city away from its violent reputation. "I think that whoever wins really needs to focus on domestic issues like housing and a stronger police presence," said junior Catherine Neill.
This is the biggest Oakland mayoral election since 1998 when former Governor Jerry Brown led the way for big-name politicians trying to bring Oakland out of San Francisco's shadow. The race began as a somewhat boring one, with Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente seeming the frontrunner over Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel. It wasn't until October, when lobbyist and former Congressman Ron Dellums joined the race that things began to heat up.
"I really hope that the closeness of the race will drive candidates to develop strong platforms that are actually going to help the city," said Oakland resident Jennifer Wong. "This city needs a lot of work and I think these candidates are up to the task of fixing it."
Dellums served in the House of Representatives for 27 years but left the House midterm for personal reasons in 1997. After a grassroots campaign collected 8,000 signatures urging him to run, Dellums agreed to join the Oakland mayoral race. As a part of his campaign, Dellums is selling the idea of "Oakland, the model city" a plan to draw philanthropists and well-educated residents to the city, which is known mainly for its violent crime.
Dellums says that Oakland is "big enough to be significant, but small enough to get your hands around the problem."
In contrast to Dellums, De La Fuente has spent 13 years in Oakland's City Hall, working directly with current Mayor Jerry Brown. His platform focuses on cleaning up the bureaucracy and bringing accountability back to City Hall. He also promises to make every department within the city accountable to its residents and level the playing field when it comes to different areas of Oakland.
The other major candidate in this election is Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel. Nadel has served nine years on the Council and has been widely regarded as the most progressive voice on the Council. Nadel also worked closely with Brown and De La Fuente, but after De La Fuente was elected City Council President, Nadel became his sole voice of dissent. Nadel has said that she is the middle ground between Dellums and De La Fuente, possessing more experience than Dellums and is more progressive than De La Fuente. Her platform focuses mainly on environmental programs, public safety and police accountability.
Whatever their differences, all three of the major candidates are focused on moving Oakland away from its violent reputation through economic and social development. For more information on the election visit www.oaklandnet.com or visit the candidate's Web sites.