Filing for Oakland At-Large Council Seat Still Open

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday March 11, 2008

The Oakland City Council At-Large race took an unexpected turn last week when incumbent Henry Chang opted not to file for re-election, and a major challenger, Oakland Unified School District Board member Kerry Hamill, delayed filing until this week. 

At the same time, the most anticipated races for state legislative offices remained unchanged. In the most anticipated June matchup, current District 14 Assemblymember Loni Hancock will face former District 16 Assemblymember Wilma Chan in the Democratic primary for the termed-out District 9 Senate seat of Don Perata.  

Four challengers have qualified for the Democratic primary for Hanock’s District 14 Assembly seat: Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, former Berkeley City Councilmember Nancy Skinner, Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond, and Berkeley physician Phil Polakoff. Sandré Swanson is unopposed for his Assembly District 16 seat. Barbara Lee is unopposed in the Democratic primary for her District 9 Congressional seat. 

Filing for most offices in the June 3rd election closed on Friday, but because no incumbent filed in Oakland at-large and Oakland School Board District 3, filing for those races were kept open by statute through Wednesday. Incumbent District 3 School Board member Greg Hodge is running for the District 3 City Council seat. 

“I just feel that 14 years is long enough for me,” the Oakland Tribune reported Chang as saying in giving reasons why he chose not to run after taking out filing papers. “There’s other things I want to do.” 

But sources who spoke with Chang, who has filled the Oakland At-Large seat since 1994 with the support of powerful Oakland political boss State Senator Don Perata, was reportedly upset because Perata is backing Hamill this time. 

Meanwhile, Hamill said her delay in filing is no big deal. 

“I called Henry on Friday morning to see if he was going to file and, if not, if he would sign my filing papers,” Hamill said by telephone on Monday afternoon. “When I found out he wasn’t going to file, I knew I had a few more days. It’s not any deeper than that. I’m filing tomorrow.” 

But Hamill’s delay was not the first time there was a twist in her At-Large candidacy. On Feb. 14, she told the Daily Planet that she was not running or considering running for Oakland City Council and was giving up her District 1 School Board seat so she could have more time to volunteer in her children’s schools. Four days later, she was sending out an email asking supporters to join her in announcing her at-large candidacy at a March 6 fundraiser sponsored by Perata. 

Friday’s last-minute filing activities left three filed candidates for Chang’s At-Large seat: AC Transit Director At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, former AC Transit Director Clinton Killian, and retired IT professional and Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods co-founder Charles Pine. 

With the filing deadline extended, a fifth candidate—senior citizen activist and former Community Police Advisory Board member and retired U.S. postal worker Frank Rose—took out filing papers for the at-large council seat. 

In other local Oakland races, the filing deadline left the election matchups that had been anticipated for several weeks. 

John Russo, who lost to Sandré Swanson for the 16th Assembly District seat two years ago, is unopposed for re-election as Oakland City Attorney. 

In Council District 1, incumbent Jane Brunner will be challenged by public safety activist Patrick McCullough.  

In Council District 3, incumbent Nancy Nadel faces three challengers: school board member Greg Hodge, Covenant House director Sean Sullivan, and Africa Williams. Williams is a certified medical massage therapist and Community Building Coordinator for the City County Neighborhood Initiative of West Oakland and serves on the Board of Directors of the People’s Grocery healthy food nonprofit of West Oakland. 

In Council District 5, incumbent City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente faces three challengers as well: realtor Mario Juarez, former Councilmember Wilson Riles staff member David Wofford, and repeat candidate, small business owner Beverly Blythe. Blythe lost to De La Fuente in 2000, 62 percent to 26 percent, and failed to turn in enough signatures to challenge the council president in 2004. 

In council District 7, incumbent Larry Reid is being challenged by East Oakland neighborhood activist Clifford Gilmore, the son of Oakland’s first African-American Councilmember, Carter Gilmore. 

In Oakland Unified School Board District 1, parent Jody London and educational philanthropist Brian Rogers are competing for the seat left vacant by Kerry Hamill. Writer Tennessee Reed, the daughter of writer Ishmael Reed, had taken out filing papers in that race, but did not file. 

Incumbent Noel Gallo is unopposed for re-election to his School Board District 5 seat. In School Board District 7, incumbent Alice Spearman is being challenged by Acts Full Gospel Church Associate Pastor and Acts Christian Academy Principal Doris Limbrick, and by administrative assistant Beverly Williams. 

With filing extended through Wednesday in the School Board District 3 race, no candidates filed as of last Friday. Educational activist Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, the wife of the incumbent Greg Hodge, has taken out filing papers in that race, along with Oakland Community Organizations secretary Olugbemiga Oluwole Sr. 

There were also no surprises in candidate filings with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. 

Incumbent Nate Miley faces retiree Steve White for his Area 4 Alameda County Board of Supervisors seat, while incumbent Keith Carson is unopposed for his Area 5 seat. 

With incumbent Gay Plair Cobb, the wife of Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb, opting not to run for re-election to her District 2 Alameda County School Board seat, filing has been extended through Wednesday, with no candidates filing as yet. Author and Oakland Commission on Aging member Ernest L. Hardmon III and political newcomer Conchita Tucker have taken out filing papers for the position. 

A full 16 potential candidates took out papers for the vacant Alameda County Superior Judge Seat 9, but 12—including Deputy Oakland City Attorney Mark Morodomi—either withdrew or failed to qualify. Four candidates will face off in the June election: Dennis Hayashi (who lost to Sandra Bean 51 percent to 49 percent in 2006 for the Seat 21 judgeship), Dennis Reid, Victoria Kolakowski, and Philip Daly.