The Oakland mayoral race is getting personal. At a candidate forum hosted by the Alameda County Democratic Party late last week, Mayor Jean Quan and challenger Joe Tuman sparred over each other's car accidents.
When the moderator — former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris — asked each candidate about the number of staff members his or her office would need, Tuman said, “I think we’re going to have to look at what we’re working with in terms of the budget. I can promise you I don’t need any more than a secretary and I don’t need a driver.”
Tuman was referring to a series of news stories earlier this year about Quan being photographed using her cellphone while driving. Days later she was involved in a car accident that some media outlets initially speculated may have been caused by Quan again driving while using her phone.
However, an Oakland police investigation said it was unclear whether either driver was using their phones at the time of the collision.
Quan immediately followed Tuman, but did not respond to his remark, although she appeared momentarily flustered by the comment.
Following the nearly three-hour forum, Quan was asked about the Tuman’s comment, which was also the only negative statement made by any of the eight candidates participating in Thursday’s event. “He hit a dog in his neighborhood,” said Quan. “I mean, really?"
Quan added she was surprised the media did not focus more thoroughly on Tuman’s incident earlier this year that resulted in his car running over a dog that was off-leash. Tuman called it “an unfortunate accident,” but the Quan campaign insinuated that Tuman was speeding and had run a stop sign before hitting the dog.
Regarding her own accident last June at the intersection of 26th and Market streets, Quan said she was shocked following the car crash about how people claimed she was on her phone at the time of the incident and assumed she had broken the law. “I was very sad about this,” she said. “I was actually very happy to just be alive.”