Greg Hodge is not qualified to serve on the Oakland City Council

There seems to be widespread consensus, at least from the people I’ve spoken with, that Nancy Nadel needs to go. She has failed her district for the past 12 years, she doesn’t represent our interests, and she doesn’t respect her constituents. Still, I’m finding that some people are reluctant to commit to support for Sean Sullivan, not because they don’t like him, but because they feel like they need to evaluate all their alternatives first.

I’m here to tell you, you don’t have any. I feel as strongly that Sean Sullivan will be an excellent representative for District 3 as I do that Nancy Nadel is long past her expiration date on the City Council, but both of those are arguments for another post. Today I want to talk about Greg Hodge, who people keep telling me they need to learn more about. Look, there’s nothing to learn. You already know everything you need to know about him.

I’m not talking about the fact that he was president of the school board when they ran up a $57 million deficit, or about his support for the retention of superintendent Dennis Chaconas after the district’s financial woes became clear, or about his being unceremoniously removed as board vice president by his peers, or the lack of fiscal responsibility he demonstrates when he shrugs off multi-million dollar deficits as unimportant. Those are all reasons not to vote for him, but somebody who follows the schools more closely can tell that story better than I can.

What I’m talking about is his inability to get it together to even run for Council. First, there’s his getting on the ballot saga. For those who missed it, here’s the whole story.

To run for City Council, you have to fill out a nomination petition with signatures of people who support your candidacy. Specifically, you have to get the signatures of 50 registered voters in your district. You’re allowed to submit as many as 100.

Greg Hodge turned in his nomination petition with 75 signatures on the submission deadline Friday, March 7. After Assistant City Clerk Marjo Keller called Hodge on Monday, March 10 to tell him that the County Registrar of Voters was only able to confirm 47 valid signatures, he went to the County Registrar of Voters and waited in their reception area while they conducted another review of his signatures. After reviewing the signatures again, the Registrar ultimately determined that the petition contained 50 valid signatures, and Assistant County Registrar Lee called the City Clerk’s office to say that Hodge had indeed qualified for the ballot. Keller confirmed this over telephone with Hodge the next day, then sent a certified letter the following day confirming that Hodge had qualified.

The next day, James Vann and Stuart Flashmann came to the City Clerk’s office with two requests. They wanted to examine the nomination petition themselves, and they also wanted Keller to verify a specific signature. After reviewing that signature, Keller determined that it was valid. While doing that, she noticed another signature that had been marked invalid, and she determined that it had been marked incorrectly, and was actually valid.

Now this is where I think it gets kind of shady. At this point, Keller had verified 51 signatures on Hodge’s nomination papers, surpassing the minimum required. But for some reason, Keller then decided that since she had discovered one error in his favor, all of Hodge’s signatures should be re-reviewed. After this second review, Keller identified two other signatures that were not properly verified, and determined that Hodge’s total was only 49. The following day, March 14, Keller called Hodge to inform him that he did not qualify for the ballot.

Hodge challenged the determination in court, arguing that the signature of a Mr. Charles Mouton had been improperly invalidated. Mouton, who has lived on Myrtle Street in West Oakland since 1971, and has been registered at the address for 20 years, has two separate addresses on his house, which he apparently uses interchangeably. He registered to vote at one of them, but wrote the other on the petition. The judge sided with Hodge, and allowed him back on the ballot.

I think Judge Roesch made the right decision in allowing Hodge on the ballot, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should vote for him. How could you? 47, 50, 51, 49, 50 – it’s ridiculous! The ballot fiasco illustrates just how unprepared he is to serve the City. There is no excuse for all this nonsense. What’s asked of the candidates is not that demanding. It’s true that sometimes people might lie and say that they’re registered when they aren’t. That’s why you check your signatures before you turn them in. Candidates have access to the exact software the County Registrar of Voters uses to verify the signatures (amusingly named DIMSNET), so they can perform a preliminary check. Hodge apparently didn’t bother to do this, nor did he bother to obtain the maximum number of allowable signatures, a provision that exists to protect against this exact situation. Squeaking by with 50 signatures is embarrassing – Oaklanders deserve more than the bare minimum from their representatives.

Hodge’s lazy attitude is hardly limited to his nomination petition. Check out his website.

There’s nothing on it. Come on. A photo of Hodge with a cute kid and a donate button. No bio. Nothing about what his priorities are. Nothing to indicate why he’s running for Council, or why you should vote for him. No phone number to call, no office to visit, and no e-mail address to contact him. He asks for our money, but doesn’t even try to sell himself to us.

And apparently he won’t even be attending tonight’s candidate forum at City Hall to tell voters where he stands!

With less than nine weeks until election day, Hodge can’t be bothered to explain to District 3 residents why he deserves their vote, and that is exactly why he doesn’t. You don’t need to find out anything about him – he’s already told you all that you needs to know – he’s unorganized, unprepared, and unavailable. We already have a Councilmember like that – why on earth would we even think about electing another one?

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15 thoughts on “Greg Hodge is not qualified to serve on the Oakland City Council

  1. WJR

    It isn’t suprising that Hodge’s website is delayed – he’s been busy fighting to stay on the ballot, putting him a couple weeks behind everyone else, who didn’t have the City Clerk trying to kick them out of the race for no reason.

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    WJR – I don’t buy it. Sean Sullivan’s website has been up and complete since mid-February, well before the filing deadline, and before that he had a placeholder page with actual information. Greg Hodge is clearly unprepared. The fact the he didn’t attend last night’s forum really solidifies my feelings about his inadequacy as a candidate. I don’t know why he bothered to spend all that money on a lawyer to get back in the race when he doesn’t seem interested in actually running.

  3. Joanna

    Since there are other reasons, such as those you listed, I appreciate hearing about them. I get a bit miffed when someone says I don’t need to know why candidate X is bad and that I should just take their word for it that candidate Y is the right candidate. In this case, Candidate Y doesn’t have public service experience, so how do we really know that he’s going to be better? I don’t really know either candidate – well, Sean on a passing basis as a customer – and so I like hearing the real reasons to vote or not to vote for someone. And now you have. Thank you!

    I am one of those that refused to vote for NN again, no matter that I think she’s probably a great, well-meaing person. Unfortunately for her things are just not happening the way *I* see that they should/could be done. I think she probably did more in the beginning of her 12-year service, but I’m ready for change.

    Unlike others, I’m not so quick to blame a single school board member for the problems of the schools, and that has to do with friends who have been on school boards wanting change, but rarely making progress because they’re fighting the system. As you mentioned, it’s not just that he was on the school board, but his relationship with others.

    This town in particular has too much of a “but that’s how it’s done” attitude. I’m hoping that Sean can find his way through that labyrinth.

    When you wrote about having two addresses, I realized that I have two addresses and couldn’t remember which one I put down when I signed Sean’s petition and I have no idea which is listed on my voter registration. Both are in District 3 though!

  4. Jonathan C. Breault

    I cannot recall a person less suited for political office than Nancy Nadel. In a city replete with rank amateurs and goofy ideologues masquerading as “community leaders” (laughter) she ranks as the least effective, most obstinant and philisophically deluded of them all. And poor West Oakland. Talk about a Hobsons choice. Nadel, a certifiable nut with an easily recognized and serious self-loathing affliction, hell bent on destroying this town bit-by-bit, Greg Hodge, a man who clearly is not organized and evidences the same sort of brain-addled ideology that is an epidemic at city hall, or Sean Sullivan, the long shot with no resume. Given the historically low voter turnout in District 3 Sullivan could win and that would be a very good start at ressurrecting West Oakland and inserting a modicum of rationality into the discourse. It is often said in political campaigns but rarely is it more appropriate than in this one to say that “ANYONE would be better than Nadel”!!

  5. Moschops

    I personally didn’t find the ballot fiasco or website arguments compelling enough – even if I personally find it bizzare that a guy like him couldn’t easily get 50 reliable signatures (I guess 1/3 of his were invalid – seems high to me!) I’m not well connected but I’m pretty sure I could get 50 reliable signatures in a day or two. And also even that I could personally put together a much more information website in a couple of days than his few blog entires at (yes it is a blog style website now).

    However not showing up for the meet the candidates forum last night pretty much eliminates Hodge as far as I’m concerned, I would love to know his excuse. Until now its been unclear to me if he was a serious candidate, if he really wanted to run. I guess going to court to dispute the count would confirm that – but not showing up at your first big opportunity to publicly express that intent seems to negate it. I can only assume that he was worried about appearing ill prepared which was exactly your point. But really if you’re going to run, and are really serious about it you should have long ago got to the point of being prepared. I don’t really see Sean as a creature of City politics but it is clear he has been doing his homework so why can’t Hodge? It is clear unless he puts in a pretty darned impressive performance we can just rule him out by default.

  6. V Smoothe Post author

    Moschops –

    It’s nice to see that Hodge now has something up, I suppose. The site only began forwarding to that blog the day after I wrote the post. I will note that he still doesn’t appear to have a campaign office, any position statements, any information about the candidate, and so on.

    I can only imagine that Hodge didn’t appear at the candidate’s forum because he was afraid he would come off poorly in the debate, which is being televised and re-run on KTOP through June. His strategy for now seems to be to sit back and ride the combination of widespread dissatisfaction with the incumbent and his existing name recognition. District 3 deserves better.

  7. scottpark

    Oh, and on unprepared: the one picture on Greg’s website is from his mayoral campaign.

  8. Nick James

    For those who haven’t seen the video response of Greg Hodge reacting to the signature dilemma, visit his page ( I visited his page and it looks comprehensive. In addition, Greg Hodge is Oakland District 3 School Board, an Attorney, and an Activist, calling him lazy is unprofessional, discourteous, and misguided. When is running for city council about who has the best web page? I understand this a blog, but maintain a sense of decency.

  9. Greg Hodge

    Today, a friend called me to inform me of the interesting comments that were being presented on this website about my candidacy for City Council, District 3. The process of running for office is always challenging if you are a decent, hardworking person who happens to love your community and your city. I am a real person who has served in this city in a number of capacities – a youth worker, non profit leader, community practice attorney, parent of 4, cultural artist, school board member and social change agent. Having grown up in the segregated south, and come into adulthood here in Oakland, I have seen and heard a lot. Like, people who make a judgment based on some of the facts. Like, people who don’t take the time to really get to know the issues of a situation and then have a fully formed opinion. For the record, I am well prepared to serve and lots of friends and neighbors will come out and vote that way on June 3rd. As for missing one of several forums, I actually had to choose between the League of Women’s Voters event and a work commitment in Seattle. I am helping build a national movement for working families, the Equal Voice for America’s Families Campaign. That campaign held an event this past Saturday at the Ceasar Chavez School site (the first new school built in Oakland since 1959, on my watch as a board member). That event created a forum to listen to the needs and desires of some of our poorest residents – parents, kids, and others. No political speeches. No uninformed comments. No fluff. To date, we have worked to bring together more than 3500 people around the country. Oakland is my home. I love this place and all its people. Even V Smooth. You don’t know me. If you would like to meet to discuss, I am willing to meet with you, any candidate and your friends to discuss how we can make Oakland better. For Real.
    Greg Hodge

  10. Californio

    Mr. Hodge,

    I’m glad you showed up here. And I wish a few of the other candidates would do the same, as this seems to be the best place in town to get the details of what’s going on in Oakland government.

    How about a point-by-point rebuttal to the article posted about you?

    One thing I’d like to hear more about is your work commitments, in Seattle or wherever, and how much time they might take away from your council member duties.

  11. Ralph

    Like many, I am not a fan of Nancy, and I have lived in the District less than two years. But I am even less of a fan we supporters of one candidate disparage another candidate to garner support for their own candidate.

    This Hodge guy could be the greatest thing slice bread but he hasn’t gotten a message out so maybe it is a bit premature to discontent his candidacy. That said, I do have certain disdain for anyone and that includes voters and politicians who thought that Dellums would make a good mayor. But hey people change, if we can give criminals a second chance, I can certainly give well meaning law abiding citizens a second chance.

    What troubles me more than anything is the area east of 980 that always seem to get omitted from the conversation. I am sure the people of West Oakland have needs but D3 has a split personality and the needs and desires of the downtown crowd are significantly different than the west side.

    Greg, if you can make a good case for downtown development you are at least worth a listen.

  12. V Smoothe Post author

    Nick James –


    At this moment, Hodge’s page still remains completely absent of anything resembling a platform or policy/issues statement. In fact, nothing has been added since I wrote this two weeks ago. The video response is fine, I suppose, but really provides no information beyond what I wrote in this post, all of which was taken directly from court documents. The signature debacle remains embarassing for Hodge. I would never make a decision about a candidate based on the design of a website. But I think it’s completely valid to evaluate a candidate for office based on the content of said page – this is the modern way that politicians tell voters what they’re about. You suggest that doing so is indecent. I wonder how, then, you think we should be evaluating candidates, if not on their platforms.

    Hodge’s website has no content. He has no platform. There is not even a phone number to call for people who want to request information about Hodge’s positions. I tried to sign up for the mailing list two weeks ago, but that feature was broken. I tried again just now, and it is still broken.

    City Council candidates should be evaluated on their ideas and willingness to work for hard for Oakland. Today is exactly seven weeks until election day, and Hodge has not indicated that he has any ideas about what we need to do to make this city a better place. I find it baffling that anyone would vote for him.

    I will also note that Hodge’s unpreparedness extends beyond his lack of a platform – he failed to file his his campaign financial disclosures with the City Clerk by the last deadline. This raises serious questions about his commitment to transparency in government.

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    Greg Hodge -

    I know exactly how challenging it is for “a decent, hardworking person who happens to love your community” to run for office in Oakland, because I watch Sean Sullivan and his campaign struggle with it every single day. At the end of a grueling day of work, all I can think about is how much I want to sit down with a good book and a fine bourbon and relax in my apartment. Instead, I drag myself down to 8th and Broadway to sit in an office with a bunch of other volunteers and make phone calls for a couple hours. We sacrifice our time to get the message out to voters, always an uphill battle, but especially so when you are challenging a long term incumbent and don’t have much money. We do this because we care deeply about Oakland and because we want the electorate to be informed. It concerns me a great deal to see that other candidates aren’t making that same effort.

    You know, I said two years ago, during the Mayoral election, that you could get a good idea of how a candidate would behave in office by the way they campaigned. I complained that Dellums had been vague about policy, wasn’t making himself available to the public, and spent much of his time in DC rather than in Oakland. That prediction has proved true. Will it be different this time? You work on the Equal Voice for America’s Families Campaign is undisputably admirable. But I want to know what you will do as a Councilmember. I want to know that you will work full time for the citizens of Oakland.

    I would be happy to interview you to get a sense of what you want to bring to Oakland. Your website provides no way to contact you or your campaign, but you are welcome to e-mail me at v at vsmoothe dot com if you’d like to arrange a meeting.

  14. Miss Blalock

    To me you are all haters. I have personally seen this man work in the West Oakland Community and being a black man in a racist world it is not easy. I am proud of Mr. Hodges he is a hard working man. Everytime i am in the community he is doing positive things and Council Member Nancy Nadel She totally supports the people as well directly in the community.

  15. James H. Robinson

    Miss Blalock,

    Why are you responding to a topic that occurred over a year ago? The City Council race is over and we know the results.