So one of the funnest parts of having a blog, or so people tell me, is that you get to make endorsements. I wouldn’t know. I’ve somehow managed to find myself so busy that I’ve run out of time to write them. So here’s A Better Oakland’s endorsements. I’ve already said who I’m supporting in most of these races, and I’m linking to my previous explanation for the decision because I just don’t have the time to write a new, short one. Sorry. Next time around I’ll do it right.
District 1 City Council: Patrick McCullough
District 1 School Board: Brian Rogers
District 3 City Council: Sean Sullivan
I said it last week, and I’ll say it again today. I cannot endorse Sean Sullivan more strongly. He is exactly what this city needs. I also recommend reading Becks’s endorsement of Sullivan over at Living in the O.
District 3 School Board: Jumoke Hinton-Hodge
Like I said before, I feel kind of out of my league when talking about the schools, so I asked around on this one, and although most people I spoke with supported Oluwole, and although this wasn’t the only reason most of them gave, every single one of them complained about her husband’s performance in the same seat. I just want to say that think that criteria is bullshit. Jumoke is not her husband. This is the equivalent of people who support Hillary for President because they love Bill. I find it infuriating when educated, engaged people behave as though educated, engaged women have no identity beyond that of the person they’re married to.
I was a little weirded out by all the notes and papers she spread out all over the table at the LWV forum, but her answers overall were data-driven, thoughtful and detailed, so if that’s what it takes, go for it. She demonstrated a better grasp of the District’s issues than Oluwole in the debate, and in large part, I agree with her solutions – better professional development for teachers, increasing parent engagement, and increased use of technology. Oluwole is an advocate of vocational education, which is very important to me, but supports a moratorium on charter-schools, which I have a serious problem with. Hinton-Hodge is on the same tip as Brian Rogers about requiring the A-G curriculum for all high school students, which I think is bad, but you’re never going to agree with someone about everything, and she’s just the better candidate.
District 5 City Council: Ignacio De La Fuente
District 7 City Council: Larry Reid
At-large City Council: Rebecca Kaplan
Probably the only one of my endorsements that will come as a surprise to my readers, since I previously said that I was supporting Clinton Killian in this race. I can pinpoint the exact moment I switched to undecided for At-large. It was at the HarriOak candidate forum, when the candidates were asked if they thought there were any city regulations that should be scaled back. Clinton’s immediate response was “Well, good luck with that.” I get that he was trying to be funny, and it actually was funny, but it also isn’t the can-do attitude I want to see on the City Council. Kaplan’s response to this question, about how we require way too many conditional use permits, was totally awesome.
I remained torn between Killian and Kaplan since then, and it wasn’t until last night that I finally decided who I’d be voting for. I know Clinton shares my priorities, and it’s really tempting to vote for someone who I can feel confident will always vote on the right side on things I care about – development, transit, planning, and so on. Killian has also shown an appealing commitment to transparency and community engagement. But after spending way more time than is normal or healthy thinking about this race, I’ve decided I want more from a Councilmember than a predictable vote.
Kaplan makes me nervous. I don’t like her a lot of her endorsers at all, which sort of makes me sympathetic to the Green Party’s logic regarding Sean Sullivan – if I disagree with the priorities and the other endorsements of many of these groups, then shouldn’t I be concerned that they think Kaplan is on their side? But ultimately, I think that’s a terrible way to judge a candidate.
Kaplan has promised to work full-time on the Council, which is important to me, and I’ve found her positions overall to be well-researched and detailed. I’m concerned about what she’ll do regarding inclusionary zoning – when I spoke with her personally, she made a really good argument against IZ (well, it was basically my argument) and said that we should be focusing our affordable housing energies in other areas that we can all agree on and will help more people anyway. I completely agree! But her response to the IZ question at the HarriOak debate was a lot more wishy-washy, and IZ advocates I know are using her alleged support of the plan as a reason to vote for her. So I don’t really trust her on this issue.
I also have concerns about the way she’s run her campaign – two different people have complained to me that they called her campaign office wanting to talk about the race, and they couldn’t even get someone to give them a scripted pitch – instead, they were curtly referred to the website and then hung up on. Of five City Council campaigns I’ve made donations to, hers is the only one where I never received any kind of thanks or acknowledgement of my gift. That’s just not very classy. I think the way one campaigns says a lot about the way one will behave if elected, so I worry about how attentive she’ll be to constituents.
But as I said before in my recap of the LWV forum, I love that she’s not content to simply accept long-term problems as inevitable, and really thinks outside the box for solutions. What we desperately need on the Council are people who are going to bring a lot of energy and fresh ideas, because the status quo is simply not working. Kaplan’s super smart, pragmatic, and was able to persuade me that she’ll make decisions based on data rather than emotion and with an eye on implementation. She’s fully committed to smart growth, and like Sean Sullivan, awesomely showed up at the Zoning Update Committee to speak against the proposed new CBD zoning. She’ll offer some much-needed attention to transportation issues. She gets the need for Port-supportive services at the Army Base, and the vital role the Port plays in our economy. So even though there are some definite trust issues here, particularly around inclusionary zoning and civil service, I’m gambling on Rebecca Kaplan, because I’d rather take my chances on someone I think could be really great than on someone I know for sure will be pretty good. And I think you should too.
State Senate, District 9: Wilma Chan
Like one of the most recent mailers I got from her says “VOTE OAKLAND! VOTE CHAN!”. Ok, I don’t have time to write a real endorsement for this one (although I am voting for Chan), I just wanted to bring up the race to ask what the hell is up with Don Perata? He endorses Chan, no, he endorses Hancock, no, he endorses both, then I get a mailer on Saturday that says “Don Perata sets the record straight” really big, and the back is a letter about how he supports Wilma Chan, and only Wilma Chan. Then my friend gets a robocall from him last night saying to vote for Loni Hancock. WTF?