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The Dark Horses

They may have no chance, but we talked to them anyway.

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Marcie Hodge

Marcie Hodge is a surprising candidate for mayor. Her most recent bid for public office — 2008's city council race — was resoundingly unsuccessful, and her tenure on the board of the Peralta Colleges was marred by a scandal in which she used a college credit card to pay for $4,000 worth of clothing and other expenses. (Hodge said she always planned to pay the money back, which she did.) In person, she's easily rattled and has a hard time completing a full sentence. At the League of Women Voters' debate last month, she stumbled conspicuously. Whether this was nerves or lack of preparation isn't clear, but it didn't help voters get a sense of who Hodge is and what her ideas are. Meanwhile, her web site is blanketed in platitudes like "Our children are our future and they deserve a rich and successful educational experience."

So it's hard to get a handle on Hodge's platforms and priorities, but she intends to promote healthy living, public safety, and life-sustaining jobs. Hodge says she wants to revitalize Oakland's economy by providing tax incentives to businesses, create job-skills training programs for industries like biotechnology and renewable energy, and "really focus on the port as an entity." Much of her crime-prevention strategy centers around job creation and anti-truancy programs, and she has not taken a stance on the number of police officers the city should have.

Hodge maintains that her biggest assets as a candidate are the fact that she's an Oakland native, that she has a willingness to "work full-time for the city of Oakland," and that she has done work on a Ph.D in organizational psychology. Beyond that, she seems a bit confused about what sets her apart from other candidates. Hodge is also casting herself as an alternative to "career politicians" despite the fact that she herself has served on the Peralta board since 2006 without holding another job. "I see it as different," she said when asked about this incongruity in a recent interview. "It's promoting education." She also said that she entered the race because "there was no voice for the apathetic young person, for the single mother," though she herself doesn't identify as a part of either of these groups.

Terence Candell

Call Terence Candell's campaign office headquarters and you'll be greeted by a thunderous voice declaring that "it's a brighter day in the City of Oakland: Terence Candell is the next mayor of Oakland." It's aspirational, theatrical, and perfectly fitting for a candidate who hasn't shied away from bold gestures and language. His campaign web site invites voters to "feel the winds of change" and declares him to be the "People's Mayor." And last month, Candell made waves by being the only candidate who didn't attend the biggest and most well-attended public forum on the mayor's race thus far. Initially, organizers stipulated that only front-runners attend, though that was later rescinded. But Candell went ahead and held his own event instead.

The candidate's booming voice mean he's often mistaken for a preacher — indeed, at the August 25 Sierra Club Green Forum, he had to explicitly tell the crowd otherwise. He's actually the executive director of a private school in Oakland, Candell's College Prep, and before then, he worked as a teacher and administrator at various East Bay schools. In a recent interview, he ticked off his qualifications: "Nobody has my track record as an educator; nobody has my background," he said. "I'm the only one who has the oratory skills; I'm the only one who can make peace on our streets."

His plans also veer toward the larger-than-life: One of his biggest platforms is a development that would include a theme park, roller rink, and bowling alley. He'd like to implement a 1-percent commuter tax and construct three toll booths on local freeways as a means of building revenue from folks who work in the city and live in the suburbs. All told, he expects these measures to bring in almost $200 million annually and go a long way in closing the city's budget gap. He's proposing youth centers as an alternative to hiring more police officers, and has placed job creation — including a $100-million mayors' job program — at the top of his list of priorities. Though he acknowledges that some of his ideas may be unorthodox, he said he intends to "make innovative changes and think outside the box."

"We need to elect a representative that's going to be powerful," he said. "That's Terence Candell."

Arnie Fields

It takes a certain kind of person to run for mayor of Oakland, get 1 percent of the vote — and then decide to run again. Arnie Fields is ceaselessly optimistic about the city of Oakland and, especially, himself, even though he's presented some unorthodox ideas.

Fields' biggest priority as mayor would be to eradicate a litter problem that he believes is a major contributing factor in the city's public-safety and economic woes. "I believe that litter is the biggest problem facing this city," he said in a recent interview, drawing a connection between litter and other, more serious crimes. He says he would like to make littering illegal in the city and use city funds to implement a K-6 litter education program. Fields also strongly believes that former Mayor Jerry Brown "brought in an elitist agenda" by privileging homeowners over renters and gentrifying West Oakland; one of his main platforms would be to eliminate corruption that he believes began with Brown and has now spread to all corners of city government. Beyond that, his ideas for the city include creating drop-in anti-truancy centers around the city and forcing police officers to contribute to their pensions.

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