Several Challengers Crowd Oakland City Council Races

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday January 29, 2008

Three more challengers, including one in the district of powerful Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, have announced for the Oakland City Council in what already was one of the most crowded election years in the city in recent memory. 

Realtor Mario Juarez is running for the seat currently held by De La Fuente from District 5 in central East Oakland. Former Oakland Planning Commissioner and AC Transit Director Clinton Killian has announced his intention to run for the Oakland City Council At Large seat currently held by longtime incumbent Henry Chang. And in the deep East Oakland District 7, neighborhood activist Clifford Gilmore—the son of Oakland’s first African-American City Councilmember, Carter Gilmore—is running against longtime incumbent Councilmember Larry Reid. 

Juarez, the owner of Realty First and Mortgage Mario Juarez Team in Oakland’s Fruitvale section, is a longtime Fruitvale resident who serves on the board of directors of the Fruitvale-based Unity Council, and was a Mayor Jerry Brown appointee to the Workforce Investment Board.  

Although his campaign is not yet official, he is already speaking out against the incumbent De La Fuente, saying that he is “running against one of the biggest egos in the city,” and saying that he is responding to a “craving in the community for change and new ideas.”  

Juarez says that he will be a strong advocate on issues of crime and violence, which he calls a “city-wide emergency” that has long been a problem in the Fruitvale area. 

De La Fuente could not be contacted for this story, but it is widely assumed that he is running for re-election. 

Killian, a longtime Oakland real estate, probate, and business attorney and currently a Montclair resident, recently picked up the early endorsement of District 16 Assemblymember Sandré Swanson.  

He was widely mentioned as a candidate in 2006 for the District 16 Assembly seat being vacated by former Assemblymember Wilma Chan, but Killian dropped out of the race later won by Swanson.  

Killian served on the AC Transit Board of Directors from 1994 to 2000 and was an Oakland Planning Commissioner from 2001 to 2005.  

In a recent article in The Globe newspaper, where Killian writes a weekly column, he said that crime prevention will be a major focus of his campaign.  

“And it’s not just about hiring more police officers,” Killian said, “but developing a comprehensive approach to attacking crime which includes prevention, creating safe neighborhoods and rehabilitation to move people away from criminal activity. It’s not going to be solved by doing one thing.”  

Killian also said that new business recruitment to Oakland and equalizing services in the city’s neighborhoods will be among his other priorities if elected. 

Killian joins an already-crowded At-Large field fueled, in part, by rumors that incumbent Henry Chang may not be running for re-election this year. Chang has not yet made any public announcement of his election plans and did not return phone calls in relation to this article. 

A second At-Large candidate will be Charlie Pine, co-founder of Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods. Pine, an Allendale district resident and the only candidate to put up a campaign website so far [www.pineforoakland.org], lists “peaceful neighborhoods” as his major goal. “Let's make peaceful neighborhoods top priority,” a paragraph on the front page of his campaign website reads, “and let's get city government back to basic services like trimming the trees and repairing the streets. The budget has the money; but we must spend it for urgent needs, not political pork.“ 

A third challenger, AC Transit At-Large Director Rebecca Kaplan, has also announced her intention to run for the At-Large Oakland City Council seat. Kaplan lost to Chang in a 2000 runoff for Chang’s seat. 

But the major player in the At-Large seat may not be any of the announced candidates, even if Chang chooses not ito run. It is rumored that District 4 City Councilmember Jean Quan is considering a run for the At-Large seat if Chang chooses not to run. Quan could not be reached in connection with this article. 

In District 7, a Gilmore campaign pamphlet describes him as a community organizer who has “worked to establish Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils throughout the city, stimulated neighborhood growth through economic investment, created accountability within local public schools, and worked continuously with Oakland’s youth as a coach and mentor.” 

Gilmore says he is running “to reverse the trends that have plagued Oakland for too long: crime, blight, and development that does not benefit the residents of District 7.” 

Incumbent Larry Reid, a former aide to former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, says he is running for re-election and that there are “exciting things” going on in the council district that extends to the San Leandro border. 

In West Oakland’s District 3, a third candidate, Covenant House Development Director Sean Sullivan, may be joining incumbent Nancy Nadel and Oakland School Board member Greg Hodge. Sullivan could not be reached in connection with this story. 

A fifth council seat—that of District 5 Councilmember Jane Brunner—is also up for election this year. 

Meanwhile, the schedule for this year’s council elections is still up in the air. Oakland City Council elections were originally scheduled for June 3, with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) taking the place of runoff elections.  

But with Alameda County’s proposed IRV software still tied up in the approval process with the Federal Elections Commission—with the California Secretary of State’s office next in line to take a look—council has set a Feb. 5 date to consider setting a June 3 election with a Nov. 4 runoff schedule, scrapping IRV for this year. 



Oakland City Council Races 


At Large 

Incumbent: Henry Chang (not yet announced) 

Announced: Rebecca Kaplan, Charles Pine, Clinton Killian 

Possible: Jean Quan (if Chang does not run) 


District 1 

Incumbent: Jane Brunner (no information available on her plans) 

Announced: None 


District 3 

Incumbent: Nancy Nadel (running for re-election) 

Announced: Greg Hodge 

Possible: Sean Sullivan 


District 5 

Incumbent: Ignacio De La Fuente (not yet announced his intentions) 

Announced Candidates: Mario Juarez 


District 7 

Incumbent: Larry Reid (announced for re-election) 

Announced Candidates: Clifford Gilmore