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Letters for the Week of October 29, 2014

Readers sound off on the coming elections.


"Vote Libby Schaaf for Mayor of Oakland," Election, 10/15

Continue the Momentum with Quan

Why is the Express recommending changing horses in mid-stream, and for such bogus reasons, when even you admit that Mayor Quan is "mostly on the right track?" Occupy Oakland was an impossible situation for any mayor. Early on, councilmembers were split between support for Occupy and wanting to shut them down immediately. Occupy's consensus process for decisions was unwieldy and meant they were unable to take many actions. They claimed at the time that there were no "leaders" and told the mayor that if she wanted to talk to anyone she could wait in line for the evening open mic (usually a two-hour process!) like everyone else. Oakland had a particularly toxic anarchist group that did most of the damage; by definition, their goal was to create chaos, not to protest. Their actions were irrational and unpredictable.

Police Chief Sean Whent has been excellent, making significant progress on court-ordered reforms as well as overseeing reorganization of the department. Chief Anthony Batts was hired by former Mayor Ron Dellums. He was job- hunting before Quan was even elected. When he left abruptly, Howard Jordan was promoted from within for stability in a department that needed it, but Jordan was unable to buck the police officers' union to make enough progress with reforms.

The previous administration had left us with a $38 million deficit, followed quickly by a reduction in property tax revenues and by Jerry Brown seizing redevelopment funding to balance the state budget. City Administrator Deanna Santana's financial skills were very appropriate for that period of crisis. Promoting Fred Blackwell to replace her was great; unfortunately for us, he was offered his (other) dream job shortly afterward, but he has continued to work on the Coliseum City project proposal. And Blackwell's replacement, former City Manager Henry Gardner, is brilliant.

For the first time since the mid-1990s, more people think the city is going in the right direction than think it is going the wrong way. Why switch horses? I'm voting to continue the momentum with Jean Quan.

Valerie Winemiller, Oakland

Quan Deserves a Second Term

Personally, I am voting Jean Quan as my first choice. As a member of her transition team after she was elected in 2010, I was intimately aware of the generally poor conditions in City Hall when Jean came into office. And now all areas of the city — including finance, budget, safety, development, operations, management, personnel, morale, and community involvement — have been vastly improved. It is impossible to be unaware of the positive changes occurring throughout the city, yet for reasons that remains a mystery to me, from Day One, there remain many who are proud "Jean haters" (a perplexing phenomenon).  

Jean brought the city back from financial disaster and has had admirable accomplishments in all areas, including crime reduction and stabilizing the number of police officers, making good staff appointments, getting police officers to contribute to their pension plan, providing summer jobs for youth, spearheading the pothole blitz program, and making sure that all committee and commission appointments are filled. She has balanced budgets and the city now has a growing surplus. She brought in Chinese investors to speed up the Oak-to-Ninth project, a number of new housing developments have been permitted and are ready to start, she's visibly fighting to keep our three sports teams in Oakland, there has been not a hint of scandal or corruption in her administration, there's been no labor strikes or threats, and there's been a noticeable improvement in staff morale across the board. 

Early in her term, Jean was a party to a very unfortunate handling of Occupy — an untold story in itself, not susceptible to a soundbite. Jean is not the most friendly administrator. It is no secret that Jean is a lengthy talker, partly due to the fact that she is so deeply versed on almost any matter. Jean is well aware of these frailties, and is indeed improving.

Additionally, after twelve years of mostly inaction by the two prior mayors, Jean has resolved practically all the heavily resisted court mandated changes in Oakland police practices that resulted from The Riders litigation. Unlike Mayors Jerry Brown and Ron Dellums, Jean continues to attend and participate in every meeting of the city council. And despite not usually having a vote on council matters, Jean still voices her position on all-important matters that come before the council, thereby remaining visible, active, approachable, and transparent to the citizenry.  

A strong supporter of lesbian and gay rights, Jean has been a leader and supporter of annual Pride activities. Earlier this month, she won the endorsement of the Bay Area Reporter, the area's largest gay/lesbian newspaper.

I don't think it is possible to find a mayor who works harder, longer, or more effectively on behalf of Oakland, and who continually attends, meets with, and reaches out to all segments of the city. Jean Quan has succeeded over and beyond expectations. She definitely deserves a second term to continue the good work she has begun.

Were Jean not running for reelection, I would vote Dan Siegel first. In the past, Dan would not have won the Oscar for social skills, however, in recent years Dan has made a complete turnaround. Overall, Dan is a true progressive, and the only steadfast progressive in the fifteen-person field. Dan was also a member of Quan's transition team, where we generally agreed on issues. Dan ended his close relationship with Mayor Quan as result of the Occupy fiasco. 


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