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McCullough Challenges Brunner for Oakland Council Seat

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday February 08, 2008

The Oakland City Council 2008 election dance card all but filled up this week with the announcement that North Oakland public safety activist Patrick Mc-Cullough is running for the District One seat currently held by Councilmember Jane Brunner.  

McCullough, an African-American and a city of Berkeley employee, is best known for the 2005 incident in front of his 59th Street house, when he shot and slightly wounded an African-American teenager who was part of a group McCullough said had threatened him with a gun. The Alameda County District Attorney’s office declined to bring charges against either McCullough or any of the teenagers. McCullough’s home was the target of several vandalizing attacks after he led a neighborhood campaign to keep drug dealing off his street. 

He said that combating North Oakland’s soaring crime problem would be one of his top concerns, and immediately criticized the incumbent Brunner for what he called her inaction on the problem. 

“Jane Brunner is typical of many white liberals who have an affinity with groups like the Black Panther Party and are not comfortable in doing what is needed about the crime problem,” McCullough said in a telephone interview. “They’re afraid to be called racist.”  

He added that “there has been no improvement in the city that is attributable to her as councilmember. She doesn’t do things until pushed. I will do things on my own initiative. I’m not going to wait until people complain. I don’t know who is benefiting from her inaction, but people are suffering.” 

He said that if elected, he would move toward increasing the number of police in Oakland to between 1,100 and 1,200, significantly higher than the 803 currently-authorized strength. 

“A lot of people are afraid to go outside, afraid to cut their grass, afraid to casually walk around their neighborhood,” McCullough said.  

While Brunner agreed that crime is “the biggest issue” in her North Oakland district, she took issue with McCullough’s contention that she had not been doing anything about it. 

“We have made it our top priority in the last two years,” she said. “I am the one who pushes [Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker] the most in developing public safety strategies. I think [Mr. McCullough] may not have been paying attention recently.” 

Brunner also disputed McCullough’s contention that she was a white liberal who is soft on crime. “I’m proud of being a progressive,” she said. She said that she would talk more about the issues in her district as the campaign developed, adding, “I think I will win. I know I have a lot of support.” 

If Council President Ignacio De La Fuente announces for re-election for his District Five seat, as expected, there will be contested races in all of the Oakland City Council districts whose four-year terms are up this year: One, Three, Five, Seven, and At Large. While candidates have informally announced for all of these races, official candidate filing does not begin until Monday, Feb. 11 and runs through March 7. 

Neither De La Fuente nor At Large Councilmember Henry Chang responded to telephone inquiries about whether they were running for re-election this year. 

Council races are set for June 3, with a November runoff scheduled for multi-candidate races in which no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.