Former City Manager Robert Bobb told the Chron that he's preparing to run for mayor of Oakland. He said he is looking for a house in Oakland with his wife. He currently is running the financially troubled Detroit public school system, but that job ends early next year. The Express reported earlier this year that Bobb was considering a run. As a well-known and respected African American in a city in which blacks still have a plurality, Bobb will be a formidable candidate. He also has strong connections and commands respect in the Oakland business community. And he may be the only candidate who can give former state Senator Don Perata a run for his money.
In fact, with Bobb mounting a campaign, along with a possible candidacy by Councilwoman Jean Quan, Perata suddenly no longer has a stranglehold on the race -- although he still has to be considered the frontrunner because of his fundraising prowess. But with Bobb and Quan -- who is likely to have the backing of progressives and labor unions -- siphoning off votes, Perata's chances of winning the race outright in the June 2010 primary now is in doubt. And of course, if Perata is indicted on federal public corruption charges, the race suddenly becomes wide open.
Bobb also has one possible significant advantage over Perata and Quan. He has actual executive experience, which could mean a lot in a city with as many problems as Oakland. Both Perata and Quan have only been legislators during their political careers, with no experience actually managing a city bureaucracy. That could prove to be a strike against them, considering the disappointing mayoral tenure of longtime Congressman Ron Dellums, who also had no such experience. By contrast, Bobb had a successful career as Oakland's city manager, and before that, in Richmond, Virginia. Bobb also has no baggage of being beholden to special interests.
Bobb also confirmed with the Chron that Dellums earlier this year had offered him the job as city administrator but that he turned it down. Bobb didn't say why, but the Express reported earlier that sources said he had serious concerns about the influence inside City Hall wielded by the mayor's wife, Cynthia Dellums.