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Am I just wasting my time?

I’m exhausted right now. I’ve had a busy week. Yesterday, I worked for 15 hours straight. Tomorrow, I have another double shift – day and night jobs. I would love nothing more right now than to use my free evening tonight to rush home, climb into my bed, and go to sleep insanely early.

Instead, I’ll be attending the Rockridge Community Planning Council’s Mayoral Candidate Debate from 7:30 to 9:30 PM at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Avenue. Saturday, I’m going to spend my morning at the Veteran’s Center, Grand Avenue @ Harrison St. watching the Safety First Mayoral Candidate Debate from 10:00 AM to noon. If I wasn’t working Saturday evening, I would be at Acts Full Gospel Church at 1034 66th Ave, watching the African American Chamber of Commerce Mayoral Candidate Debate from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.

I learned a lot about the candidates last Thursday at the Marcus Foster Institute debate, and considered the evening time well spent. Judging from the completely packed venue (I had to sit in the nearly full overflow room), I’m not the only one who thinks these debates are important.

But some of our candidates don’t. Ron Dellums gave his closing statement last, and used the time to inform me that we “need another debate like we need a hole in the head,” then proceeded to tell the packed auditorium, all of whom gave up their evening to be there, that the whole thing was a waste of time. Over at Stop Ignacio, Ron Oz told us that he considered the debates a “joke”. I can hardly conceive anything more arrogant and disrespectful to voters in Oakland than to suggest that our time and our attempts to learn more about the people who want to run our city are unworthy of their attention. Deckin has a great post about this at Common Sense Oakland.

I value the opportunity the debates offer for me to hear what the candidates have to say side by side. I have read all the campaign literature, but that is no substitute for public fora. When I read campaign pamphlets or platform statements, they exist in a vacuum. I may agree with much of what is said, or disagree with much of it, but I am still only experiencing one person’s answers on topics they have personally selected.

At the Marcus Foster Institute debate, I was able to compare each candidates answers to specific issues facing our schools today, and I learned things that weren’t covered in campaign literature. I learned that Nancy Nadel is unequivocally opposed to charter schools, that Ron Dellums is wary of them, fearing they represent a step toward privatization of the education system, and that Ignacio De La Fuente is a strong advocate for anything that we can do to get students engaged in their education, from subject-specific charter schools to vocational training. I learned where each candidate stood on exit exams and many other topics.

I was impressed with the knowledge of and engagement in their communities displayed by Ignacio De La Fuente and Nancy Nadel, while Ron Dellums made it more clear to me than ever that he has no place in this race. While the other candidates talked about specific places, programs, and plans within Oakland, he ranted about the prison system and No Child Left Behind. He was passionate and eloquent, but also completely irrelevant to the decision at hand.

I urge everyone to attend a debate, and to attend with an open mind. In addition to the debates, the candidates are all available for questions from the public at neighborhood meetings or parties their campaign has organized. For a link to a list of scheduled events, click on each candidate’s name below.

Ignacio De La Fuente

Nancy Nadel

Ron Dellums

Ron Oz

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Posted in delafuente, dellums, elections, nadel, oakland.


One Response

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  1. Oakland Native says

    I was very disappointed as Ron Dellums and Ron Oz continued to criticize debating at the Rockridge forum last night. Is Ron Dellums really boycotting the Safety First debate? That’s just crazy! Not only is it terribly disrespectful to Oakland citizens and the two major candidates, but Safety First opposes zero-tolerance policies, and Dellums has made that position a part of his platform. What’s in it for him in getting out of debates, beyond the divisiveness? Of course, he is losing the debates.

    While I’m talking about him losing the debates, I’d like to point out that once again, Ron Dellums clearly displayed his federal focus and inattention to local issues. His best applause came from his very impressive list of local pork projects he garnered, which made me even more angry at Barbara Lee and her uselessness.

    Run, Ron run! For Congress!