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Ignacio De La Fuente vs. Ron Dellums in the East Bay Express

I was pleased to see that this week’s East Bay Express featured a cover story on Ignacio De La Fuente. My main impression of the article was that Will Harper offered a pretty balanced portrayal, and definitely didn’t try to mask any of Ignacio’s flaws, but, in the end, came down firmly in favor of De La Fuente.

Although Ron Dellums is not discussed at great length in the article, the references to him are largely unfavorable, and reflect many of the reasons why I consider him unsuited to the role of Mayor. The article begins with a description of Ignacio’s meeting with a group of parents concerned about soccer fields, then follows with “It’s hard to imagine ex-Congressman Ron Dellums, the double-digit frontrunner in the mayor’s race, concerning himself with something so seemingly trivial.” This is right on – if you take a look at Ron Dellums’s campaign calendar, we can see that this characterization bears out – he only has four public events scheduled for the entire month.

Dellums’s complete lack of a platform is noted, and he is described as “relying instead upon his personal charisma and famous name to help propel him to office.” Will Harper (correctly) refers to one of his very few proposals as “crazy talk.” I think the article goes a long way towards explaining Ron Dellums’s easy appeal and high favorability ratings, by contrasting the difficult decisions municipal employees are forced to make with the relative ease of representing one’s constituency in Congress.

It’s hard to argue with that. In recent years, cash-strapped city officials statewide have had to make unpleasant choices to close down libraries and recreation centers, and order layoffs to balance budgets as required under state law. It’s easier for someone like Dellums, who spent the last thirty years working in a town where deficit spending is a way of life, to maintain a comfortable distance from his constituents. “Here you can’t run, you can’t hide,” Reid says. “People will be upset at you and waiting for you outside City Hall, waiting for you to come out. … It’s rough.”

In context of these crticisms, Ignacio De La Fuente comes off extremely well – someone who is willing and able to get things done, who has had to make tough choices and be accountable for them, and who has a strong grasp on what issues a Mayor can actually influence, and who is working hard to persuade voters.

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


2 Responses

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  1. deckin says

    V Smoothe,

    I agree, the article certainly reads well for Ignacio De La Fuente. It’s not a puff piece, like so many interviews of Dellums are, but his strengths come through. One thing I wondered about, but maybe it’s a good thing: you don’t get this online, but the actual copy has the cover as being ‘The Selling of Ignacio’. The art is nice, but the title’s connotations, that this is a candidacy that needs a hard sell struck me as off.

  2. V Smoothe says

    deckin -

    That was the aspect of the article I found most interesting as well. I wrote a separate most about it here.

    I was actually a little surprised by how uncritical the article was on two subjects. They didn’t try to hide any negatives, but I picked up the paper expecting more pot shots at “backroom” deals and Ignacio’s relationship with the Express’s favorite punching bag, Don Perata.

    They mentioned both, of course, but I think Larry Reid’s quote went a long way towards defending Ignacio against the ludicrous backroom deals accusation, which made me happy, since the idiotic notion that anytime a city offical holds a meeting with businesses who are trying to get something done in the city represents some kind of secret and malicious process in one of my pet peeves.

    And I thought Ignacio came off fairly well on the subject of his relationship with Perata. He correctly pointed out that there has been no indictment after 19 months of investigation, and refusing to turn his back on one’s friends at the first sign of trouble reflects positively on his character.

    I sent it, at your suggestion, to an out of state friend to get her impressions. Here’s what she said:

    Its long. It sort of only gets like vote for this guy towards the end. I thought they could have taken a stance, but it doesn’t really seem like they do.

    Way too much on the kid with the rape. Probably a little too much history. I liked the explanation of the house parties and people that decided to vote for him.

    The problem I have with it, is if I were riding the fence, I think I’d be unlikely to show to vote. It doesnt motivate me to get out there and get the job done.