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.

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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.

Neighborhood Endorsers Make First District 4 Council Picks

Tonight a group of active neighborhood leaders made three picks for the upcoming District 4 council race, after meeting and interviewing candidates a week ago.  They endorsed Libby Schaaf and Daniel Swafford as “most qualified,” and Melanie Shelby as “very strong.”

Although the election is next November, there’s high interest in assessing who might follow Jean Quan into this position.  The  District 4 Neighborhood Endorsement Committee is comprised of neighborhood volunteers, listed below.  Their group recommendations are perhaps the earliest ones to come down the pike.

Here’s the group press release, in its entirety:

DISTRICT  4  NEIGHBORHOOD  ENDORSEMENT COMMITTEE
CANDIDATE  RECOMMENDATIONS

Oakland, CA – May 10, 2010. The District 4 Neighborhood Endorsement Committee is made up of a volunteer group of District 4 residents who are involved in a range of neighborhood initiatives and activities in this district.  This Committee came together to identify preferred qualities in a candidate for City Council.  The goal was to recommend a candidate who will continue to support local neighborhoods. The Committee has decided to recommend three candidates for consideration by District 4 voters.

Potential candidates for the District 4 City Council office submitted a short application and one hour interviews were scheduled.  Following the interview process with seven candidates the weekend of May 1 and 2, and Committee deliberations, the Committee deemed Libby Schaaf and Daniel Swafford the most qualified to represent District 4.  Melanie Shelby is also a very strong candidate.

All three candidates are strongly committed to supporting neighborhood-based initiatives that will help empower the residents of District 4.  These candidates are also able to address critical citywide issues in the areas of finance, public safety and economic development.

All three candidates spoke to the importance of maintaining the highest ethical standard and transparency in government and how they would work to achieve these standards.  These candidates indicated they intend to be full time council members.  They all possess an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of District 4.

Libby Schaaf has a strong policy and neighborhood organization background, with considerable experience in city government, which gives her the knowledge to both maximize revenue sources and eliminate inefficiencies in existing programs.

Daniel Swafford has an extensive record of leadership in local organizations in District 4.  His experience includes the development of economic corridors in neighborhoods and the capability of creating and managing major merchant and neighborhood events.

Melanie Shelby, with experience in running both large and small businesses, is a consensus builder and will work to bring divergent viewpoints together.  She has served on the boards of several Oakland based commissions and is knowledgeable about the city as well as state and federal agencies.

To review a copy of the District 4 Neighborhood Endorsement Committee mission statement, questions posed to the candidates, and candidate application forms for participation in this interview process, email krussell@russell-gordon.com.

The members of the District 4 Neighborhood Endorsement Committee include Roger Brett (Montclair West), Jim Clardy (Fernwood), Jose Corona (Allendale; youth member), Krista Gulbransen (Maxwell Park), Nancy Karigaca (Maxwell Park), Jeanne Nixon (Fairfax), Dale Risden (Joaquin Miller Hights), Sharon Rose (Dimond), Kathleen Russell (Dimond), Nick Vigilante (Shepherd Canyon), Stan Weisner, chair (Montclair).

District 4 Seat: Jill Broadhurst

We’re pleased to introduce District 4 candidate Jill Broadhurst, who reached us today.  She provided many responses to questions Today in Montclair posed in April 2010, below.


Q.  Why are you running for District 4?

I have served our community for the last eight years as a community leader on parks, libraries, public safety and fire protection. I believe I’ve made a difference in our community. With an opening on the Council in District 4, I have the opportunity to continue that work in a way that will allow me to accomplish even more for our community.


Q.  Why should people vote for you?

Our Council needs to have a clear vision of how to go about achieving our goals, and the ability to implement that vision with the cooperation of all district representatives and the Mayor.  I will focus on Oakland’s core services, and how to increase the level of resident satisfaction.  I understand both the opportunities available for improving our City, as well as our limitations, and how we can deal with them.


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

I will bring a stronger working relationship between NCPCs, neighborhood leaders, business associations, parks, and libraries and their patrons.  I want District 4 residents to know that they are not forgotten by the City.  Many of the changes are citywide enhancements that will benefit all of the Districts.


Q. How would you balance needs of different neighborhoods?

Each neighborhood within District 4 faces its own unique challenges, so I will identify specific priorities for each area.  I will first ensure that the most-critical items are addressed and managed efficiently and effectively, while simultaneously reviewing other concerns.  I will provide regular updates to each neighborhood and welcome feedback.  By advocating for and respecting the opinions of all of our District’s residents, we will help to meet the needs of the entire District.


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

I will be the first Latina Councilwoman, I have young children who attend the local elementary public school, and I have a private-sector background.


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

I understand that how one casts his or her vote is a very important and personal decision.   Elections provide a crucial opportunity to allow the residents of Oakland to make their voices heard, and how they vote reflects the improvements in their City and District that they are hoping to see.  I will be honored if they cast their valued vote for me, to represent them as their next Council person in District 4.  To learn more about my campaign, please visit www.jill4oakland.com or my facebook page.

District 4 Race: So Early, So Important

Oakland’s District 4 council seat is getting vacated by mayoral candidate Jean Quan – and that move has attracted a flurry of early candidates.  A group of District 4 neighborhood leaders plan to interview all comers this weekend, and endorse a candidate thereafter.

With that vetting underway, Today in Montclair wanted to introduce as many candidates as possible.  Remember that candidate filings don’t even take place until August (!) for the November election.  It’s a little unfair to push for positions this early, but the outcomes matters to everyone.

Over the past couple weeks, your faithful blogger has begun reaching many aspirants by e-mail, phone or in person – and they are a truly impressive line-up.  My goal has been to create a very level playing field, and I sent these questions to gauge their differences:

  1. Why are you running for District 4?
  2. Why should people vote for you?
  3. What do you hope to change for District 4 residents?
  4. How would you balance needs of different neighborhoods?
  5. How would you balance needs of District 4 and all Oakland?
  6. What will be different when you are seated versus Jean Quan?
  7. How does District 4 connect with other districts now?
  8. How would District 4 connect if you’re in the council seat?
  9. What are your top three priorities, after becoming council rep?
  10. What have you accomplished, one year after becoming council rep?
  11. What else would you like to share with Montclarions and other readers?

At first, the ideal plan was to collect all Q&As and publish them simultaneously.  Falling short of time as well as this ideal, six candidates were reached and have responded admirably.  You may read Q&As from Scott Jackson, Clinton Killian and Libby Schaaf, along with an introduction from Melanie Shelby.

In coming days and weeks, Jill Broadhurst (added May 3rd), Melanie Shelby and Daniel Swafford have assured this blogger that they plan to share more information and responses.  There are several more candidates who are starting to declare their intentions as well.

Welcome to the almost-election season! At Today in Montclair, we hope to provide an interest-free zone where candidates communicate directly – and where materials will be shared and linked from other places.  We’re hearing that national anthem finishing up, and turn to the first game now.

District 4 Seat: Scott Jackson

We’re pleased to introduce District 4 candidate Scott Jackson.  He provided responses to questions Today in Montclair posed in April 2010, below.


Q.  Why are you running for District 4?

Oakland is a wonderful city but it is broken.  I am running for City Council to try to fix it.  Living in District 4 for the past 9 years has given me an understanding of the District’s needs and my experience has a Deputy District Attorney has given me a perspective on Oakland’s needs as a whole. Too many of our politicians and city leaders are representing their own interests and not the interests of the people they are elected to represent.  I am running to represent the people of District 4 and our interests.  Our district deserves a leader who will work hard to deliver basic city services like keeping us safe, fixing our streets, and creating and maintaining a vibrant economy.


Q.  Why should people vote for you?

First, as a Deputy District Attorney, I have prosecuted all types of crimes in Oakland. I understand crime and how to address the public safety concerns of District 4 residents.

Second, as a resident of District 4 for the past 9 years, I too am frustrated by the lack of basic city services.  I will fight hard to deliver those services.

Finally, as a former teacher and a parent who is raising 3 children in District 4, I understand what families are going through in our District. The District needs someone to fight hard for our families so that we don’t lose them to other cities/towns.


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

I would like to change Oakland’s response to our District needs.  I would like more patrols on our streets, an increase in CORE funding, and fixing our broken streets.


Q.  How would you balance needs of different neighborhoods?

As I talk to people from all over the District, our needs are not that much different.  First, everyone is concerned (and rightfully so) about public safety right now.  The key will be to focus on the “hot spots” and continue to pursue other criminal activity from there.  Second, the news of earthquakes around the globe has everyone in our District concerned about our preparedness when the Hayward Fault has a dramatic shift.  Our goal as a District has to be preparedness and responsiveness.  Third, everyone in our District seems to have a pothole they want fixed, a tree they want removed, a street lamp fixed, or a blight they want addressed. Oakland must provide these services.

Finally, our District has some wonderful businesses that we must support.  Our girls have participated in Kids N Dance in the Laurel; we shop for food at Farmer Joe’s in the Dimond; we shop for toys at Toyhouse in Montclair; and we get our dry cleaning done in Lincoln Square.  Our District has it all – not to mention all of the excellent restaurants in our District. We must support these businesses as they support local jobs and provide for revenue that the City so desperately needs.


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

I think we connect over issues.  For example, vocational schools/training. I have talked to people all over Oakland, and I see these young people who come into our courtrooms everyday, and there is no doubt that many of these kids could benefit from vocational training.  If we teach these kids a skill that they could carry with them for the rest of their lives, get them into a union or start them on the path of starting their own business, Oakland would benefit greatly.  How does this connect with District 4?  If people are working, they are not robbing. And maybe these kids will not enter our homes with the intent to steal, but with the intent to fix our pipes or install solar paneling.


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

First of all, let me say that Jean is to be commended for her dedicated service to the District and the City.

I think the major difference between Jean and I will be my ability to connect with young families in our District and with Oakland as a whole. As a parent of 3, currently raising school aged children in the District, I understand what families are going through.  I understand that there are people in our District living paycheck to paycheck who are concerned about their children’s education, their jobs, and their mortgages.  The expense and sacrifice of living in the District is causing many families a lot of stress. Many of our District residents are not asking for much from the City, just the basics – keeping us safe, fixing our streets, making sure we are prepared for the “Big One,” and supporting local retail. I believe that I can provide a voice for these families.

I think another difference will be putting different face on District 4.  As an African-American, I believe that other Oaklanders will see District 4 in a new light.  I believe that I will be able to connect District 4 with the rest of Oakland in a way that Jean could not. This could help District 4 increase its influence in the City.


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

It doesn’t.  For example, look at the increase in parking fees fiasco.  If you read the papers during that period, District 4 residents were portrayed as a bunch of rich folks who did not want to pay our fair share – even though the vast majority of Oaklanders opposed the increases.  Our District residents care about the welfare of this City and the People of Oakland as much as anyone else in this City.


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

As I mentioned above, I believe that I can connect with the all of People of Oakland.  In my capacity as Deputy District Attorney, I have been fortunate to meet and speak with people from all over Oakland, and we are not much different.  We all want Oakland to work again, and we want Oakland to reach its full potential.  When I am on the Council, the People of Oakland will know that we stand behind them in our common pursuit of safe streets and economic vitality.


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

First, getting more cops on the streets of District 4.  I believe my experience and relationships in law enforcement will get the ear of the police brass and help us get the police resources we need.

Second, extending and increasing funding for CORE.  We are going to take the brunt of the impact of the impending earthquake and we must be prepared.

Third, fixing our streets.  From potholes, to street lights, to blight, our streets have become a quality of life issue that needs to be addressed.


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

All of the above. We need to stop aiming low and start aiming high.  Moreover, Oakland needs to do a better job attracting and encouraging business growth. There are lots of empty stores even in wealthy areas of Oakland. I will encourage and support small business development in District 4.


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

I am originally from Chicago and went to Williams College in Massachusetts.  After two years of teaching (U.S. and Civil Rights History) I went to law school at George Washington in Washington, DC. I was offered a job with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and my wife and I moved to Oakland in 1997 after we graduated from law school.  We moved to District 4 in 2001 after our first child was born. We live in the Crestmont area with our 3 kids and my 77 year-old mother-in law- who helps with the kids. She has given me a great perspective of the needs of the Seniors in our District.

I coach for Montclair Soccer Club, NOLL/SOLL baseball, Oakland Girls Softball League; and I even did a stint with Skyline Lacrosse!  I am committed to the youth our district and will be a strong advocate for the needs of residents of District 4.

June 1st Update: At the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association’s gathering for candidates, we learned that Scott Jackson won’t be throwing his hat in the District 4 ring.