Dist. 4 Candidate Forum Tuesday Night

The Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association is bringing together all seven candidates for the District 4 race tomorrow evening.

The organizers provided the candidates the questions from PPNA members in advance. Here’s what the candidates will be asked:

1) What have you done already to improve the lives of residents of District 4?

2) What would you do to address Oakland’s crumbling streets and roads, and how would you prioritize resources in order to keep them in better shape than they are now? Specific examples of problems that have gone unaddressed for years are Mountain Boulevard by the Highway 13 freeway entrance, Skyline between Snake and Shepherd Canyon Roads, and Ascot Drive around Mastlands where EBMUD tore up the road a few years ago and never put it back in its original condition.

3) How will you contribute to making City Council more effective and less dysfunctional?

4) How do you plan to make any changes in how the City balances its budget and what you are prepared to do to help cut any unnecessary spending?

5) What will you do to keep undergrounding for Piedmont Pines on track?  We know that Councilperson Desley Brooks has tried to derail our project in the past.  What steps will you take to stop her if she tries to delay our Phase 2 and 3 in the future?

6) What are the three most urgent needs for change in our district?  What are the three most important elements to preserve in our district?

7) We are told that very little of Oakland’s budget involves discretionary spending.  Much of Oakland’s revenue is restricted by previous propositions.  Do you believe these restricted funds should be made visible to the public and revisited to see if they match the priorities of today’s economic challenges?  How would you do this?

It’s a good list that goes right to the heart of some of the most serious issues in the district and the city. What would you like to ask the candidates? You can pose your questions Thursday at a forum at the Fruitvale Presbyterian Church.

If Oakland’s campaign season has got you down (or underwhelmed), V Smoothe at A Better Oakland has the lowdown on politics in a far more interesting universe.

What: PPNA District 4 Candidate Forum

When: Tuesday, September 14, 7pm

Where: Joaquin Miller School, 5525 Ascot Drive

District 4 Candidate Forum Announced

It’s settled. A whopping seven candidates have qualified with the City Clerk’s office to run to replace Jean Quan as District 4’s representative on the Oakland City Council. In alphabetical order, they are: Jill Broadhurst, Jason Gillen, Ralph Kanz, Clinton Killian, Libby Schaaf, Melanie Shelby and Daniel Swafford.

A few months ago, the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association had a cocktail party for the candidates to meet some potential voters, as well as one another.  Jay Ward, a member of the PPNA’s board, said that the “debutante’s ball” drew around 60 people. Ward expects a lot more for the candidate forum the PPNA is hosting on September 14 at Joaquin Miller Elementary School.  He said that the precise format hasn’t been finalized, a tricky task with so many candidates.  All of the candidates have confirmed that they’ll be there except for Daniel Swafford, said Ward.

Since that party at Monaghan’s in early June the candidates have made progress.  Take a peek, for example, at Libby Schaaf’s list of endorsements.

What: District Four Candidate Forum

When: September 14, 7pm

Where: Joaquin Miller Elementary School, 5525 Ascot Drive

Libby Schaaf Raises $72,000

The candidates running for seats in City Hall have until the end of this month to report how much money they raised during the first six months of the year, but one candidate is already making her war chest public. Libby Schaaf, who is running to replace Jean Quan here in District 4, announced that 344 donors gave her $72,000. The limit is $116,000, so Schaaf is already well past the halfway mark. Would the other District 4 candidates like to tell us how much they raised? We’re curious.

The campaign reports that more than half of the contributions were for $100 or less. Read our Q&A with Schaaf.

Could Kaplan Shake Up District Four Race?

It was no big surprise Wednesday when Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s At-large Council member, said she was officially running for mayor. She’s been more than hinting that she wants the city’s top job since early spring.

The Oakland Tribune’s story on Kaplan’s announcement focused on what it will mean to Jean Quan and Don Perata, the contests other two main participants. Perata made a sly crack about Kaplan’s relative youth (she’s 39). Quan quite rightly expressed fear about a “split in the progressive vote.”

The Bay Citizen, the new online news partnership between UC Berkeley and The New York Times, concerned itself chiefly with the lesbian angle. If she wins, Kaplan would be the only openly gay mayor in the Bay Area. Oakland would be the third largest city in the country, after Houston and Portland, to have an out mayor. The Bay Citizen noted that Oakland has one of the largest lesbian populations in the nation.

Kaplan has another advantage. She’s already won a citywide election, 84,000 Oaklanders have already cast a vote for her. Look at this map of the precincts that backed her when she ran for City Council just two years ago. Kaplan’s precincts are orange. Kerry Hamill’s are blue.

The question for voters in Montclair is what will this mean for the District Four race. Is it possible that Jean Quan could decide that a split progressive vote would be no match for Perata, and opt to run as the incumbent in District Four for a third term? If that happened, would any of the contenders vying for her seat have a prayer? Quan has until August 6 to change her mind.

Update: As she said in a comment below, Jean Quan says she has absolutely no intention of leaving the mayor’s race. Richard Cowan, her chief of staff, said the same thing in a phone conversation this morning.

District 4 Seat: Daniel Swafford

We’re pleased to introduce District 4 candidate  Daniel Swafford.  He declared his candidacy in the spring and has responded to questions Today in Montclair posed to all candidates, below.

Q.  Why are you running for District 4?

I want to represent our District, to better advocate for the residents and merchants of our community.

I have lived my entire life in District 4 with the exception of my college years, studying Economics and Political Science.  I know the District’s people and neighborhoods intimately, and I have experience connecting with diverse populations.  I have been an active community leader in District 4 representing thousands of homes as elected Chair of local non-profit and community organizations.

I want to bring the sensibility of how we get things done as neighborhood leaders to City Hall.  I want to build community involvement in education and public safety, support neighborhood businesses and job creation, and implement long-term planning and effective resource management.  I enjoy public service and will bring inclusiveness and integrity as a full time Council member.

Q.  Why should people vote for you?

I have a strong record of involved leadership, accomplishments in the District, and professional experience in education and personnel management.

I help residents and merchants achieve community priorities, actively listening to concerns and new ideas.  I identify needs and then work with individuals, community organizations, city officials, and experts in the field to respond and get results.

Action speaks.  I brought together volunteers to establish the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) for Beat 22X. During my time as three-term Chair, violent crime in Beat 22X has been reduced to almost zero.  I have led efforts to reform problem properties, to educate people on preventive strategies for burglaries and robberies, and to introduce long-term plans for public safety such as economic development and beautification.  I will continue to fight for full police staffing for our Beats and our City.

I have demonstrated the ability to facilitate projects and achieve results in District 4.  Whether addressing Municipal Code compliance, coordinating a public art installation, or producing a major street festival, I set ambitious goals and enjoy building involved neighborhoods.

I have helped cut costs and improve employee effectiveness for companies larger than the City of Oakland and will get the most from every dollar the City collects.  I can remove obstacles for hard working volunteers and business owners to achieve their vision.  Nineteen new businesses, including seven restaurants, opened in Dimond in the past five years.  All continue to operate today.  I have been hands-on in creating environments for business success.

My working relationships with District teachers and my background teaching at Laney College will help me best support our schools.  I will actively address the need to fund education programs and teacher training.  Advancing student empowered learning opportunities like Green Teams, or Safe School Ambassadors teaches students to transform their environment through peer level interaction.

I will work to find funding sources for community projects without depending on City money, and help initiate and sustain projects that meet our needs.  I established the Oaktoberfest non-profit street festival to raise funds for district projects, approving a portion of event revenue to go toward building the Dimond Park Tot Lot.  I garnered funding for public art through private solicitation, and as a YMCA branch board member helped launch the Pedal-to-the-Point annual fundraising event for environmental education scholarships.

You entrust the Council to be responsible, to manage your tax dollars effectively and serve the public by capturing our vision and moving the city forward.  As your representative I will bring an honest work ethic and set the highest standards for city government.

Q.  What do you hope to change for District 4 residents?

I must help address the city budget crisis, bring neighbors together, and build foundations for our District to thrive.

We’ll need to cut waste from city administration and find new revenue sources for vital programs.  I will bring neighborhood leaders together to work cooperatively and to share resources efficiently.  We will employ best practices and capture data for continuous improvement.

I will engage property owners, small businesses, and local corporate branches to be active in supporting the neighborhood vision and contribute in a way that aligns with the objectives of the community.

I will enhance public safety.  Expanding Neighborhood Watch and CORE is a proven way to enhance safety by organizing neighborhoods to take a proactive approach to disaster preparedness and crime reduction.  I will work closely with OPD to create visual deterrents to crime, including: foot patrols, cameras, traffic calming devices, suspect IDs, and people on the streets!

Our cost of living needs to come down; I will look at ways to increase City revenue without increasing property taxes.  I will develop policies that attract commercial and industrial business to Oakland.  We can provide Oakland residents with improved employment opportunities and increase sales and business tax revenue to support critical City services.  We will build on existing strengths in alternative energy, art and fashion while supporting basic industry and retail stores.

Q.  How would you balance needs of different neighborhoods?

Create a City-wide summit of neighborhood and community leaders to help those working on issues at the block and neighborhood levels share best practices, build relationships and support actions.

We can look at neighborhood achievements as ways to grow District and Citywide successes.  Excellent examples of what has worked and should be expanded include:

  • Community and school partnerships, like those in Maxwell Park
  • Disaster preparedness and green space stewardship in Montclair
  • Urban beautification and litter reduction in Dimond
  • Merchant organizing in Woodminster
  • Community events, and local business support in Laurel and Redwood Heights

It is important to bring neighbors together, to work collaboratively, to share experiences and address common needs.  With assistance at the City level, quality of life will continue to improve – even in tough economic times.

Q.  How would you balance needs of District 4 and all Oakland?

I will be a staunch advocate for the District, with the objective of improving life in the District by improving the City as a whole.

All seven City Council Districts need to work with schools and police to address the over 4,000 truancy days each year.  Only 67% of our students graduate, and less than half of African-American males receive a high school diploma.  We must respond to the call of Police Chief Batts and OUSD Superintendent Smith to give our time as mentors to our youth in need.  I will look at ways to strengthen after school programs and work with our school district to make facilities a community resource.

We can bring down violent and property crime by working closely with at risk youth and preventing first time offenders from becoming career criminals.  Public service and counseling for misdemeanor offenses will help instill good values and create opportunities for positive choices at a lower cost then the alternative.

The unique character of Oakland lies in the many vibrant neighborhoods throughout the City and District 4.  We cannot afford to focus all of the City’s development funds on one or two massive projects.  Our streets and city services need to be maintained.  Planned street-scape developments need to be examined to ensure they safely accommodate all modes of transportation and conform to the neighborhood vision.

Q.  What will be different when you are seated versus Jean Quan?

I will facilitate meetings for residents and merchants to look at area strategies and share best practices.

I feel we could better use technology to build communities, making it easier for schools, organizations, or individuals to be engaged with each other.  This would help make local news and the many incredible programs, projects, and people of the District conveniently accessible.

I think we could take a fresh look at after-school activities, channeling youthful energy into community involved projects, finding more age appropriate ways to keep young people engaged.  I would like to see school facilities remain open after classroom hours or ensure that park and library facilities can accommodate all ages.

Similarly, you will find me to be a supportive and hands-on representative.

Q.  How does District 4 connect with other districts now?

The people in District 4 are diverse, active, and connected to what is happening in Oakland.  I believe the rest of Oakland could be better connected to our District.

I see the people of District 4 as a microcosm of the City’s diversity.  We have set an example for the City on how neighborhoods get things done.  Showcasing our achievements and vision could help other districts engage community members to find ways to close gaps in City services.

Our cultural events are an excellent example of how we connect to Oakland and highlight the unique character of our varied neighborhoods.  As chair of the Oaktoberfest planning committee, we branded a regional, family-friendly, craft beer festival that showcases the area’s German history – attracting over 10,000 last year.  Similar successes with the Montclair Festival and the Laurel Summer Solstice and World Music festivals help put our District on the map, while bringing revenue to local business owners and employees.

We can put a spotlight on the shopping, dining, and recreation, helping to spark year-round activity.

Q.  How would District 4 connect if you’re in the council seat?

I will be active in every Oakland district representing District 4.

Our district will be distinguished as the gateway to an urban forest, and world-class science center.  The district’s smaller parks will attract guests to enjoy public art and community gardens.  Our commercial corridors will offer dining and shopping experiences all Oaklanders will want to enjoy.  Our unique features will be highlighted throughout our City.  When people talk about Oakland at the convention center or the waterfront, District 4 will be in the discussion.

We will have well developed access to the many wonderful features in our community.  Examples of existing designs that need a strong advocate are, opening up the historic Mills College campus through the LAMMPS Project, connecting Montclair and Dimond Canyon/Sausal Creek through the Park Blvd. Trail, and safe routes to schools, parks, and our commercial destinations.

Q.  What are your top three priorities, after becoming council rep?

I have stayed connected to our District and have a good understanding of our neighborhood priorities.

1.  Work aggressively to ensure public safety and crime reduction.  I intend to work closely with OPD, OUSD, and the DA’s Office – along with residents and merchants – to create safe streets and develop long-term strategies to ending cycles of violence, abuse, addiction, and neglect.  I have organized parts of our community and brought down crime rates.  I have initiated projects that will decrease the likelihood of future crimes.  Public safety and organized neighborhoods will continue to be my top priority.

2.  Address the inefficiencies and exclusivity in Oakland City government and help bring City departments and staff to the table for the best outcomes and efficient use of City resources.  I will put our resources to work.  Underutilized property can be made available for community use, empty lots turned into community gardens, and vacant retail space can be improved by a non-profit in exchange for short-term use.  I will put redevelopment funds back into neighborhood commercial districts, emphasizing neighborhood projects prioritized by members of each community.

3.  Connect young people to mentors in the community.  I agree with Chief Batts and Superintendent Smith, who emphasize that we embrace our children, especially those at risk.  We have incredible role models throughout the District.  Through ongoing volunteer projects, engaged businesses and community groups, we must support opportunities for young people to invest time in, and take ownership of, their City.  I have the tools to design formal, objective-based programs that can be evaluated on a quantifiable basis.

Q.  What have you accomplished, one year after becoming council rep?

In 2012 you can look forward to having a closer and more supportive relationship with your neighbors.  We will see more active community organizations and block groups celebrating successful events and project milestones.

I will have had the opportunity to sit down with individuals and organizations within each neighborhood and will have begun implementing priorities to build toward the community’s long-term vision.  I will use a formalized process that is detailed and accessible, to outline projects and track progress, maintaining accountability, and keeping us moving toward our goals.

I will have fought to achieve the recommended number of police officers and appropriate staff.  We will expand the effectiveness of community policing to implement long-term solutions to crime.

Improved attendance and graduation rates at our schools will allow students to receive measurable results from a formalized mentoring and internship program.  Partnering young people with area entrepreneurs and businesses, art projects, and political or education professionals will create opportunities for youth to develop skills and experience.

The District’s attractive commercial areas and facilities, made accessible by a choice of transportation modes, will meet your shopping, dining, and recreational needs.  I will work closely with each neighborhood to achieve your community vision by filling commercial vacancies, enhancing the aesthetic, and maintaining public space.

Q.  What else would you like to share with Montclarions and other readers?

This election is an opportunity to rethink our approach to community leadership and city governance.  City Hall needs a lesson in results driven neighborhood leadership with proven, practical techniques.

For people to grow, for our neighborhoods to improve, for Oakland to come together, people need to take action and embrace hard working, open, honest leaders, committed to the best interests of the people of Oakland.

The District 4 Neighborhood Endorsement Committee, a panel of 11 community leaders, recommended Daniel Swafford as “…most qualified to represent District 4.”

I look forward to expanding the strong working relationships I have in District 4 and I welcome the opportunity to offer any additional information, answer your questions, or to help you achieve your community vision.

Please contact me at anytime:   Daniel Swafford – DanielSwafford@VoteDaniel.org – (510) 452-7392 – www.VoteDaniel.orgVoteDaniel on Facebook – 2317 Mastlands Drive, Suite D, Oakland, CA 94611 – Fair Political Practices Committee # 1327693

District 4 Seat: Jason Gillen

We’re pleased to introduce District 4 candidate Jason Gillen.  He’s a recent entrant into the race, and provided responses to questions Today in Montclair posed to all candidates, below.

Q.  Why are you running for District 4?

I am running for District 4 because I believe that everyone is entitled to the best quality of life.  I will work with the residents and business owners of District 4 to ensure that the City of Oakland can successfully provide this.  I want to help rebuild relationships between the citizens of Oakland, businesses, city government, faith-based organizations, community based organizations, and the Oakland Unified School District.  All of these groups individually and collectively need to work together to support and attract businesses that can improve job growth and revenue streams to the city of Oakland.

Q.  Why should people vote for you?

I want people to vote for me, because District 4 needs someone with a fresh view on issues and someone who will put the residents and business owners’ needs ahead before their own political gain.  I am dedicated to generating long term revenue streams for Oakland, including the development of retail, green and cultural related businesses.  If we don’t have consistent long term revenue coming into our city, then it will be impossible to pay for core services and programs.  These include Oakland’s infrastructure, youth services and public safety.

Q.  What do you hope to change for District 4 residents?

District 4 residents deserve a City Councilperson that listens and helps resolve issues and concerns in a prompt and professional way.  I believe that I can provide this type of atmosphere for them, as I understand their frustrations with how the bureaucratic processes have become in the City of Oakland.  I will have an open door policy and will deal directly with constituents.

Q.  How would you balance needs of different neighborhoods?

I want to change the way each community within District 4 communicates and interacts with each other.  I believe in encouraging neighbors to collaborate on vital and shared issues such as public safety, education, job development, and beautification.  Each neighborhood in District 4 is unique, but they all share the same concerns.  I plan to balance the needs of the different neighborhoods by establishing a task force comprised residents and business owners meeting monthly to discuss and implement ways to share ideas.  They should then take back to their own neighborhoods through their listserves, blogs, NCPCs, business improvement districts and faith-based groups.

Q.  How would you balance needs of District 4 and all Oakland?

Each part of Oakland is unique.  What is good in one part of Oakland is not always wonderful in another.  Parking tickets come to mind.  I believe in fairness.  I believe in listening to all sides of the matter before making an informed decision.  I believe in informing my District 4 constituents of upcoming nonconsent issues when they come before council, so that I can get their opinion before making a choice.

Q.  What will be different when you are seated versus Jean Quan?

I will not abstain from any vote.  I will be punctual and attentive at City Council meetings, while being brief and informative in responding to issues and questions.  I will listen and be empathetic to everyone equally regarding concerns that they might have and act upon them.

Q.  How does District 4 connect with other districts now?

While each district is separated by boundaries, they all need to be part of the solution and work together on major issues of concern.  Unfortunately, District 4 lacks the positive and direct leadership to work well with other districts.  This District must also utilize the Councilmember-at-Large and Mayor positions to help bridge gaps that arise between the districts.

Q.  How would District 4 connect if you’re in the council seat?

I envision District 4 connecting with other districts by working with all city government and council members to solve problems.  Communication between districts starts with city council members discussing issues, providing solutions and encouraging residents to get involved.  It is the responsibility of elected city council members to engage in meaningful dialogue that will help the city of Oakland grow together.

Q.  What are your top three priorities, after becoming council rep?

My top three priorities will be Budget, Public Safety, and Economic Growth/Job Creation.  I also believe that education and arts are vital aspects to the success of Oakland.

Q.  What have you accomplished, one year after becoming council rep?

One year after becoming City Councilperson, I would have a District 4 task force established to meet monthly to address shared issues.  I would introduce new policies regarding business development to make it easier for businesses to open and succeed in Oakland.  I would encourage my fellow City Council Members to address major budget concerns including pension funds and public safety.  I would also like to see a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of previous ballot measures and any options in regards to updating them.

Q.  What else would you like to share with Montclarions and other readers?

I would like Montclarions to know that I understand that their village is important to District 4 and to the city of Oakland.  Upon attending the Montclair Village Association and the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council meetings, I know that addressing the budget, public safety, and economic issues are important to Montclarions.  I look forward to listening to more of your concerns and working together with all of you to come to a successful resolution.  I appreciate this opportunity to communicate with everyone.  If you want to learn more about me or to contact me, please email me at gillen4district4@yahoo.com or via cell phone at 510-967-6324.

District 4 Candidates At Debutante Ball

Last night, candidates for the District 4 City Council seat arrived at their Debutante Ball.  They were invited by Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association, which held the dance at Monaghan’s.  During this two-hour event, there were sufficient opportunities to meet and greet  Jill Broadhurst, Jason Gillen, Ralph Kanz, Clinton Killian, Libby Schaaf, Melanie Shelby and Daniel Swafford.

These District 4 candidates have plenty of energy and mojo to tackle our city’s affairs.  They bring different work experiences from public and private sectors, as well as volunteer accomplishments related to schools, parks, business districts and more.

During one-minute introductory pitches, the candidates shared their priorities.  In different measures, they want to wrestle with the city budget, despise the idea of laying off cops, seek public safety improvements, and/or search for economic growth triggers.

It was great to watch the candidates interact and introduce themselves to neighbors.  While listening to complaints or tough questions, they mostly seemed able to respond with equanimity – and we’re duly impressed.

During the event, the League of Women Voters also took a few minutes to explain the brand-new instant runoff voting this November.  When voters pick first, second and third choices, previous vote-splitting candidates have a better chance of getting elected.  It could impact this District 4 race, who knows?