Hamill Announces Candidacy for Oakland City Council

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday February 26, 2008

What a difference a weekend makes in politics. 

On Friday, February 15, the Daily Planet was reporting that retiring Oakland Unified School District Board member Kerry Hamill was denying rumors that he would be a candidate for Henry Chang’s At-Large Oakland City Council race in the June 3 election. “I’m not considering it,” Hamill told the Planet by telephone. 

By the following Monday, Hamill was sending out an e-mail to potential supporters announcing her candidacy for the At-Large Oakland City Council seat, and asking the e-mail’s recipients to join her at a March 6 fundraiser sponsored by State Senator Don Perata. 

In an e-mailed explanation to the Planet, Hamill apologized for not saying in the interview that she was running, adding that she had not talked with her boss at the time and was “just not prepared to talk freely with you about these things.” 

Unless Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente breaks ranks with Perata, Hamill’s decision to run, with Perata’s support, would appear to leave incumbent Henry Chang out of Oakland’s established political fold in the June election for the first time since he was appointed by the council in 1994 to fill the unexpired term of Councilmember Henry Ogawa. In March of 2000 against four challengers, he was endorsed by then-Oakland mayor Jerry Brown, and by Brown and De La Fuente in his November runoff against Rebecca Kaplan. Four years later, against challenger Melanie Shelby, Chang won the endorsement of the triumvirate of Oakland’s political powers: Brown, De La Fuente, and Perata. 

But that was then. This is now. 

The Oakland at-large council race now has five announced candidates, the best indication that challengers sense a political weakness in Chang. Besides Chang and Hamill, Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods co-founder Charles Pine, AC Transit at-large board member Rebecca Kaplan, and former AC Transit Board member and former Oakland Planning Commissioner Clinton Killian have all taken out filing papers with the Oakland City Clerk’s office for the June 3 election. 

Meanwhile, Berkeley and Oakland will see two more hotly contested races in the June election. 

In the 14th State Assembly District, where incumbent Assemblymember Loni Hancock is termed out and cannot run for re-election, four candidates have now taken out filing papers with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters: Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond, former Berkeley City Councilmember and East Bay Regional Parks District Board member Nancy Skinner, Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, and Berkeley resident Dr. Phil Polakoff. 

But as powerful as the candidates appear to be in 14th Assembly race, that will probably be overshadowed by the expected barn-burner in the State Senate District 9 race, where current District 14 Assemblymember Loni Hancock will be running against former District 16 Assemblymember Wilma Chan.