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Episodes of electioneering

As the election moves into the voting phase, local campaigns produce drama along with mailers. Oakland’s infamous insularity means that many people have little idea of the races a neighborhood over from their own, and curious residents are getting little help from the media. Here are tidbits I’ve picked up on Oakland’s most competitive district elections, in this penultimate week.

Sharon Cornu of the Central Labor Council, surely a mover behind the endorsement feedback loop, spoke to a teachers’ union rally on City Hall’s steps last Friday. Fulfilling her promise to take public-employee negotiations “to the streets” and “to turn up the heat on politicians” in pursuit of higher wages, Ms. Cornu ventured into the local electoral choices, urging the teachers to be a part of campaigns. She reserved most of her ire for School Board candidate Brian Rogers, who, because he’s a Republican, represents a “threat and danger in District 1.” Notably, Ms. Cornu also castigated Ignacio de la Fuente from the stump, even though the CLC made no endorsement in the D5 race (PDF), though the Oakland Education Association did endorse Juarez, for some reason.

Making a last-ditch effort, tireless gadfly Sanjiv Handa launched De La Fuente Watch chronicling alleged misdeeds by the Council President. It leads with the charge that Ignacio doesn’t use his parking space very much, with photographic evidence (the picture includes Nancy Nadel’s truck parked next to her empty bike rack). The other charges are not backed up with public records and rely much more on conjecture and association than other attempts at taking down candidates. The page closes with quotes praising Mr. Handa from once-prominent, but now retired, citizens like Peggy Stinnett and former Interim City Manager Kofi Bonner.

As if the D5 race didn’t need more allegations, Ignacio supporters are complaining that Mario Juarez signs keep popping up on their property (the dreadful CBS5 story includes video of an Ignacio supporter removing Juarez signs from his own property). I recall Aimee Allison campaigners making late-night sign-posting runs two years ago; we of course know how well that worked. But Robert Gammon’s Express article expressed what many have been feeling: there is no good alternative to reelecting Councilman de la Fuente.

In sprawling, ultracompetitive District 3, the OakPAC (associated with the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce) on Saturday sent a hard-hitting four-page mailer replete with statements from Nancy Nadel on her sorry record regarding asking the voters to hire more police. It includes my favorite quote from her, from the last Public Safety Committee meeting on the anti-smoking law, last September: “Of course being attacked on the street is a safety issue, but smoking is a safety issue too… you can’t say one is more dangerous than the other.” She said this to a friend of mine who testified that she had been assaulted outside a bar when she took a cigarette break.

This was the third negative mailer against Ms. Nadel from the Chamber’s PAC, which also criticized her effectiveness on illegal dumping and blight as Chair of the Public Works Committee. Another asked “Why did the grocery store deal fall through?” Ms. Nadel on Sunday recorded a robo-call to every voter urging them not to read the “misleading” record of her own statements sent by “special interests.” Her own Saturday mailer on her status-quo plan to cut crime was weak (six of her eight proposals start with the words “more” or “expand,” and one of the other words is “lobby”), though I’m certainly no unbiased observer.

Partisans are clearly aiming their fire at the incumbents in an attempt to bring them below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Another biased observer of the District 3 race, the Alameda County Green Party, seems to think that someone else has a shot of winning outright June Third: today, many voters received a guide exhorting, “Don’t vote for Sean Sullivan.”

To echo what other bloggers have been saying, if you’re reading this, clearly you care about the elections. This weekend, indeed the next two weeks, are a great way to turn your interest in real results. Phoning and walking for your favorite candidate is the best way to help them win votes. See you on the sidewalks! 

Posted in california, citycouncil, elections, oakland.