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Hodge vs. Brooks Election Brewing

By Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday October 05, 2007

As late as a little over a year ago, the name of the rising African-American political family dynasty in East Oakland was Hodge. But what appears on the surface to be a growing family feud in East Oakland politics may mean that might soon change. 

Call it the Hodges and Brooks feud. 

Alameda County Department of Social Services Civil Rights Coordinator Darleen Brooks, the sister of Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks, has announced she is running against Marcie Hodge for the Area 2 Peralta Community College District Trustee seat. It was only a year ago that Marcie Hodge lost to Desley Brooks for Brooks’ District 6 City Council seat. 

The Hodge family has been in Oakland elected office for more than a decade. 

Marcie Hodge’s older brother, Jason, was elected to the board of the Oakland Unified School District in 1996, choosing not to run for re-election after the district was taken over by the state in 2003. 

In 2004, while he was still on the school board, Jason Hodge briefly entered the race for the District 7 Oakland City Council seat after reports that incumbent Larry Reid was not running for re-election. But Jason Hodge stopped campaigning when Reid announced that he was still running. With Hodge’s name remaining on the ballot. Reid easily won re-election 68 percent to 20 percent to the District 7 City Council seat in the March 2004 balloting. 

Still, with name recognition built up from two terms on the school board and because he did not actively campaign against Reid in 2004, Jason Hodge remained one of the early favorites for the District 7 City Council seat whenever Reid actually did retire. 

Meanwhile, another Hodge did run and win an East Oakland election in 2004. Jason’s sister, Marcie, easily defeated Johnny Lorigo for the vacated Area Two Peralta Board of Trustees seat, 66 percent to 33 percent. 

A little over a year into her Peralta term, Marcie Hodge announced she was running against incumbent Desley Brooks for her East Oakland City Council seat. 

The Marcie Hodge City Council campaign was a distinctly family affair. Jason Hodge served as her campaign chair and often as her media spokesperson, her mother, Yvonne, served as her campaign treasurer, and for a while, until county election officials ruled it was an improper mixing of religion and state, the campaign was run out of the East Oakland church where her mother is pastor. 

Marcie Hodge had counted heavily on political and financial support from Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente in her race against Desley Brooks, and, in fact, there were some reports that De La Fuente, who has often feuded with Brooks on the council, originally approached Marcie Hodge to run against Brooks. 

De La Fuente, in fact, hosted an initial fundraiser for Marcie Hodge in the 2006 District 6 Council race. But De La Fuente, who was running for mayor of Oakland at that time, was counting on serious opposition in his race only from fellow Councilmember Nancy Nadel, and presumably could let extra money go Hodge’s way. 

After former Congressmember Ron Dellums entered the mayoral race, De La Fuente was forced to concentrate almost completely on his own election, and expected support for Marcie Hodge from outside the sixth district appeared to dwindle. Hodge faded, eventually losing badly to Brooks, 53 percent to 35 percent. A third candidate, Nancy Sidebotham, received 12 percent of the vote. 

Now, if she chooses to run for re-election next year, Marcie Hodge will have to contend with Desley Brooks’ sister, Darleen, for her own Peralta seat. 

For a period, Hodge had a rocky tenure on the Peralta board that might make her appear vulnerable to a challenge. 

In 2005 and 2006, Hodge made a series of charges in Peralta board meetings against the district’s Office of International Affairs, alleging that the office was mismanaging and misappropriating money. The charges grew so heated that after a particularly contentious September 2005 meeting, trustees voted 5-1-1 two months later to censure Hodge for “behavior that is out of compliance with the laws and regulations governing trustee conduct and the established policies of the Peralta Community College District.”  

Because the Hodge-Brooks council race was not close, it was difficult to tell if the censure had any effect on District 6 voters. And since that time, Hodge appears to have repaired her relations with fellow board members. 

However, polite relations and endorsements are two entirely different matters. Peralta trustees have a recent history of endorsing challengers to fellow incumbents. Last year, several trustees endorsed challenger Abel Guillen over incumbent Alona Clifton. Guillen defeated Clifton 55-44 percent in the November 2006 election.