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The Dark Horses

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



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Fields, who owns the Revolution Cafe in West Oakland, is the race's only Republican, though he's quick to say that all this means is that he's pro-business and pro-entrepreneurship. "I'd like to get the city out of people's pockets," he said, though he failed to explain how that idea is consistent with the public programs he would like to implement.

"My heart is in the right place," he said. "I am your next mayor." (Despite the rhetoric, Fields is all but invisible online. As of press time, his only apparent campaign media was a short YouTube video that contained links to inactive web sites.) Fields continued, saying "I haven't given up on this town," and then referred to Oakland as "a giant titty that everyone thinks they can milk."

L.L. Young

In many ways, Larry Lionel "L.L." Young Jr. is the race's least experienced candidate. At thirty, he's the youngest by several years, and he's never run for office or owned a business before (though he's quick to point out that he's the only candidate in the field with an MBA, from the University of Phoenix's San Jose campus). He has no campaign web site or manager, doesn't affiliate with a party, and said he hasn't raised any money whatsoever. "We're doing this grassroots," he said. "Extremely grassroots."

Nonetheless, Young says he's in the race to win. Though he seems to have made little effort to build the kind of presence one typically needs to win a race like this, Young is charismatic, well-meaning, and undeniably earnest, if politically naive. He said he's been doing copious research about other cities' public policy since he declared his candidacy; thus far, this has led him to advocate that the city beef up its jobs-training programs as a crime-prevention mechanism, renegotiate contracts with all departments, and — his biggest platform — create its own "municipality" (he means municipal utility). However, without a web site or office, many of his positions are still unclear. He is one of two candidates who failed to fill out Make Oakland Better Now's extensive questionnaire, which is posted publicly and designed to help voters get a sense of each candidate's positions. At the largest debate thus far, League of Women Voters' forum last month, he didn't take a position on parcel taxes X, V, and BB, and instead suggested that audience members vote for "L.L."

This statement — as well as his catchphrase, "Vote LL and Oakland will be well," which he repeated several times — drew some of the loudest laughs at that debate, but even Young admits that it's not exactly clear who the joke's on. "I think some people are laughing with me and some people are laughing at me," he said. He maintains, however, that his particular blend of experiences makes him the best candidate for mayor. Currently a real estate agent, Young has also worked as a substitute teacher in Berkeley and Oakland schools, as well as an anger management teacher. He also cited his experience as a student athlete, amateur pianist, and extra in the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness as further assets to his potential mayoralty.

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