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

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.