Longtime Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid was elected by unanimous consent today to be president of the council for the first time. Reid, who has served on the council for fourteen years, takes over for Councilwoman Jane Brunner, who had been president since January 2009. The position of council president is considered one of the most influential in Oakland city government — after the mayor.
The council president is the official leader of the council, and in the past, has been the council’s main point person with the mayor’s office. The council president also presides over coveted council committee assignments.
Reid’s election came just before Councilwoman Jean Quan was sworn-in as mayor of Oakland at a joint council/school board meeting at the historic Fox Theater. Although Reid backed Quan’s main rival, ex-state Senator Don Perata, for mayor, Reid and Quan have had a close working relationship over the years. “Madame Mayor,” Reid said to Quan during the meeting, “I want you to know, the council is committed to working with you.”
Quan’s relationship with Brunner soured during the mayor’s race when Brunner openly campaigned for Perata. Although Reid endorsed Perata, too, he maintained his close ties with Quan, quietly helping her campaign as well, sources said.
Reid had made a run at being council president in 2007, but lost to Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who served as council president for ten years. Then Brunner won the council presidency in 2009. This time, however, Reid appeared to forge an alliance with De La Fuente and Councilwoman Desley Brooks.
First, De La Fuente nominated Brooks to be vice mayor. For council watchers, the move was the culmination of an odd relationship between the two. Throughout much of the last decade, De La Fuente and Brooks were sworn political enemies, but then in recent years, the two have started voting often with each other on major issues. After De La Fuente’s nomination of Brooks, she was elected to the position of vice mayor by unanimous consent of the council. In Oakland, the vice mayor takes over for the mayor when she’s out of town or if she leaves office.
After Brooks’ election, Brooks then nominated Reid for president. Then after Reid won the council presidency, De La Fuente won the remaining leadership position on the council — president pro tempore. The president pro tempore takes over for the council president when he’s out of town or cannot attend a council meeting. In the end, Brunner was shut out of the council leadership positions.
On the school board, Gary Yee was unanimously reelected board president. Board member Jody London was elected vice president.