Campaigning For Oakland
Three years ago, a business mentor advised me to "become politically active in Oakland". My response? Dry heaves. Nah, I'm cool with that. During this period we all have experienced frustration and anger (both justified) over all affairs pertaining to our city. Today I concede the validity of my mentor's wisdom.
Oakland is a city built on activism and,therefore, political by nature. This spirit of activism is what makes us look like weirdos on some days and masterfully united on others: It's who we are as a city. Since the city is run by politicians (insert growling stomach sound) isn't it time I took an ACTIVE(ist) roll in improving MY Oakland first?
This past week I witnessed why Oakland is so lovely and special. Oddly enough, our unique political environment shapes our city's beauty. Note: I have no intention of presenting a political head trip in this dispatch. All I can share are my own observations, and (current) conclusions about what I have personally experienced.
Remember This Guy?
Who better to take Oakland to world-class city status than a internationally known son of the city than Ron Dellums? Um....BUST!
I love Ron. Born and raised right here, he is Oakland through and through. Unfortunately, he created a force field between himself and The People. It seems he forgot the value of street credibility while doin' his thang (quite well I might add) in the US Congress. High profile is cool only when the benefits reach the lowest.
As a lame duck mayor, I give him credit for trying to limp out on a high note. Thursday night, he honored Oakland-based Pandora Radio http://www.pandora.com/ CEO Tim Westergren with a city proclamation during InOak's (see Mr Oakland 7/22/10) final meeting of the year at the crazy beautiful Kaiser Bldg Rooftop Garden. The setting was classic Oakland. Unfortunately it felt like too little... Isn't this the type of presence we needed almost 4 years ago? (Sigh)
Walking With Rebecca
On Saturday I volunteered to walk precincts for mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. It was tough taking my activism to the streets. Forecasts called for beautiful Bay Area fall weather and I even considered faking to bask in the glow. The goal: Canvas neighborhoods and get the word out that she was the only candidate presenting a plan for improving Oakland. "Nice!", I thought. What a great way to spend a Saturday in the sun and "do my part".
Oddly, I was perplexed at the number of people who knew very little about an "elected" official who has served Oakland for the past 9 years as a city council member and on the transportation board. On numerous occasions I asked residents, "Are you familiar with Rebecca Kaplan?" Most responses went like this: "Who?" or "I've heard of her, but I don't know much about her." By the end of my shift I had internalized the importance of getting the word out about the candidates most aligned with my vision and goals for what I want for Oakland. Equally important, I saw that we (and I) could WIN!
A 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Choice
Oakland is ready for change. For that change to be effective, we must elect officials that have a history and track record for working with The People of Oakland. In my opinion, there are only two candidates with this type of experience: Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan.
This is the first year Oakland will utilize Ranked Choice Voting. How it works: All voters get a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd choice for mayor. I only mention Ms. Quan, current council member for District 4, not as a lesser evil, but as a viable second choice. I make no mention of a third choice simply because there are no other candidates with any real experience effecting positive change for the majority of Oakland's residents.
My Candidate For Mayor
So without further prognostication, here is my choice for mayor: Rebecca Kaplan. I firmly feel that Rebecca Kaplan should be the next Mayor of Oakland for the following reasons:
1. I have personally observed her rally a cross-section of people and causes for the betterment of all of Oakland's residents.
2. Experience serving all of Oakland.
3. A Blueprint for the Future of Oakland. Check it out for yourself: www.kaplanformayor.org/blueprint-future
Some of my closest friends have questioned whether getting openly involved is a good thing for me. I say ABSOLUTELY. Check it, I'm not asking that you agree with me. Just do your damnedest to get what you want by getting involved in the process. Ultimately, we can't judge Ron, Jerry, Elihu or anyone else for our failures or successes. In the end, we are the ones judged by the outcome. You. Me. The People.
Oakland Stand Up!
See the NY Times article on how Oakland's clergy has embraced Rebecca Kaplan as a symbol of positive change for Oakland. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/us/politics/10bcoakland.html?_r=2&0agewanted=1
Learn more about Rank Choice Voting from V Smoove at A Better Oakland