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The future mayor of Oakland: a rundown of the options

on August 18, 2010

Oakland’s gearing up for mayoral election season again, with thirteen – strike that – ten candidates competing for Mayor Ron Dellums’ spot.

Last week after Wednesday’s filing deadline, it was widely reported that 13 people were running for mayor of Oakland. However, the City Clerk excluded three candidates who filed nomination papers because they each had an insufficient number of validated signatures.

Oakland requires each would-be mayor to pay $300 to declare themselves as a candidate, as well as provide 50 valid signatures from Oakland residents, along with proof that they have been registered to vote in Oakland for the past 30 days. Niki Okuk, Tim Brown, and Sharika Gregory all told Oakland North that enough of their signatures were thrown out to disqualify them for the election. Dellums announced on August 4 that he wouldn’t run for another term.

So, who’s left? Here is a rundown of the ten remaining candidates, in alphabetical order, based on biographical details provided by the candidates or their campaigns.

Terence Candell:

He’s 47, a Democrat, and directs Candell’s College Preparatory Academy, his own education business. Last week, various media reported – incorrectly – that he was a minister, perhaps because Candell announced that he has widespread support from Oakland’s Baptist churches. He has never previously run for political office and lives in the Eastmont neighborhood. He has a B.A. in politics from UC Santa Cruz, an M.A. in education from the Western Institute for Social Research, and a Ph.D. in education from University of Bedford, an online university based in England.

Arnold Fields:

Fields is 44, an Independent, and a registered real estate broker. He calls himself an affordable housing advocate and runs a business renovating old buildings and renting them out. He and his wife own Revolution Café on 7th Street in West Oakland. Fields ran for Oakland mayor in 2006 and received 1 percent of the votes, coming in fifth. He lives in the Dimond neighborhood. Fields attended real estate broker school.

Greg Harland:

Harland is 63 years old, retired, and has been an entrepreneur in clothing manufacture, computers, and restaurants, according to his campaign website. He didn’t reply to Oakland North’s request for more information. He lives in the Montclair area, and his website says he attended Merritt College and was trained as a scuba diving instructor at the Professional Diving Instructors Corporation in Monterey.

Marcie Hodge:

A 36-year-old Democrat, Hodge is on the board of trustees for the Peralta Community Colleges. She’s been a marriage and family therapist and a public school teacher. She also served on the Oakland Budget Advisory Committee and lives near Chabot Regional Park. She went to Cal State Hayward and also has a masters in counseling psychology from Holy Names College, as well as a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Alliant University.

Rebecca Kaplan:

Kaplan, 39, is the first openly lesbian member of the Oakland City Council, currently serving as the councilmember-at-large. She’s a Democrat and, before being elected in 2008, worked for the California legislature and for the Oakland City Attorney’s office, as well as serving on the board of directors for AC Transit. She lives in Jack London Square. Kaplan has a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Don Macleay:

Macleay is 52 and a 15-year member of the Green Party. He grew up in Canada and has never run for political office or worked for the U.S. government, though he once worked for the government of Nicaragua. He used to be a machinist but now owns and manages a small computer networking business in Oakland. Macleay lives in Temescal and attended Laney College and San Francisco State, where he received a B.A. in Liberal Studies.

Don Perata:

At 65, Perata, a Democrat, has had the longest political record of all the candidates. He was a civics teacher before his political career began, according to his campaign. Perata joined the Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors in 1986 and served as a State Assembly representative for Oakland, Piedmont and Alameda from 1996 to 1998, when he was elected to the California State Senate. In the Senate he served until 2008, at times as the Senate President Pro Tem. Perata’s already been endorsed by Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, and Dianne Feinstein. He lives in the Montclair and has a B.A. in Literature and Theology from St. Mary’s College.

Jean Quan:

Quan, 60, is a Democrat and the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Oakland City Council. She’s in her second term on the council, representing District 4. She is on a handful of the council’s committees and works with several other groups in city government; she also chairs the board of directors for the Chabot Space and Science Center. Quan began her political career through working with her children’s school and served on the Oakland school board for two terms, beginning in 1989. She lives in Oakmore. Quan received a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, though she was suspended because of her participation in the 1969 Third World Strike, part of the – eventually successful – effort to create an ethnic studies department.

Joe Tuman:

Tuman, 51, is a Democrat and a professor at San Francisco State University teaching politics, law, and communications. He’s been a speechwriter and political consultant for many years, and published several books, including Freedom of Expression in the Marketplace of Ideas (Sage, 2011), Communicating Terror; The Rhetorical Dimensions of Terror and Political Communication in American Campaigns.  Though Tuman has taught classes about politics and been paid to be a political consultant, he has never run for office himself.  He lives in the Crocker Highlands. He has a B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley and a J.D. from Boalt School of Law at UC Berkeley.

Larry Lionel Young, Jr.:

Young is, indeed, the youngest candidate at age 30. Registered Independent, he works for Prudential California as a real estate agent but has been a substitute teacher in Oakland’s public schools for four years. He has also worked in adult education and at the West County and Marsh Creek detention centers.  He lives in Adam’s Point and has a B.A. in speech communication from Cal Poly and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

This version of the story has been corrected. A previous version stated incorrectly that Donald Macleay worked for the Canadian government.

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  1. Mike on August 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

    You forgot to say that the real Don Perata has a job right now.

    He’s a consultant to the California Prison Guards union, and they’ve paid him $409,000 since he’s left office to lobby for them.

    What’s Don Perata done to earn this money? Nobody knows exactly, but he’s been very very vocal about agreeing with the Prison Guards in their opposition to early release for non-violent drug offenders.

    We have a prison overcrowding problem in California. We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Don Perata’s job seems to be to keep it that way, and he’s being well paid to do so.

  2. Rhys on August 18, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Sen. Perata’s doesn’t oppose the early release of 44,000 “low risk” offenders. He opposes the fact that there isn’t a comprehensive re-entry program to reduce the likelihood that they’ll head straight back to prison.

    None of the 44,000 will have any supervision once released. The state will not provide funding or transitional services, leaving California’s cities and counties to manage this population without assistance.

    Sen. Perata has convened a working group of law enforcement, community, faith and non-profit agencies to confront this “inmate dumping” in Oakland.

    They will pursue the Department of Corrections to provide exactly what’s needed to prevent Summary Parole from becoming yet another assault on Oakland’s urban life. They will demand a percentage of the $50,000 (the annual cost to imprison an inmate) to fund a prototype network of local reentry programs and services.

    California’s recidivism rate is already 70%, and that’s with a parole system. Citizens returning to their communities without any support network under Summary Parole are at an even higher risk of re-offending.

    The State is setting up both newly released offenders and our communities for failure. It is a failure that Oakland cannot afford.

  3. Brad on August 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    A real bunch of winners here. Regrettably, most of the “serious” contenders have already shown their stripes, and proven themselves some combination of corrupt, inept, divisive, or dishonest. Ranked choice voting be damned, I won’t be voting for any of them. I plan to sit out the mayoral race (but not the election – I’ll be voting against giving more homeowner money away to the the City and OUSD to shovel into the troughs of no-bid contracts and loans to failing businesses).

  4. Nate on August 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Yes, it’s unfortunate that none of the leading candidates (Perata, Quan, Kaplan) have what I’m looking for as an Oakland resident and business owner:

    – Perata is beholden to the public unions, esp police and won’t have any backbone in making city jobs less plush

    – Quan supports continuing to ignore Measure Y by collecting taxes without meeting minimal police staffing levels.

    – Kaplan is very anti-landlord

    I’m disappointed no one is running on a pro-business and public safety, anti city perques agenda. I’d want to see:

    – Cuts in staffing, including the mayor’s office, police desk jobs

    – Cut pensions to be more in line with the private sector, increase retirement age to 55. Ban “juicing” pensions with raises in the last years of works.

    – Cuts in Kids First and other programs that are the responsibility of private groups

    All I want are police and fire responders, maintenance of streets and utilities, basic parks (no extra teaching programs). Let private charities handle the after school programs, etc. I give a lot to Big Bros/Big Sisters and Alameda Food Bank for this reason.

  5. Anrica Deb on August 18, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks very much for your comments. I’d like to point out that commenter Rhys Williams is a spokesperson for Don Perata. Perhaps that’s obvious from his linked website.

    Thanks again. -Anrica

  6. Mike on August 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm


    Perata got paid $409000 dollars to lobby for the prison guard union. That makes any opinion he has on prison issues totally suspect. Is an opinion from Perata what he think is good for Oakland or whats good for prison guards.

    If Perata is mayor for two years, Oakland will pay him less than that $409000 the Prison Guards paid him. Who will he treat right? I bet the people who paid him more.

  7. Mike on August 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm


    Maybe thats why rhys didnt say anything to answer about the 409 thousand bucks.

  8. Leslie on August 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I noticed that forums are only allowing three people to attends, vs. the ten that they are running:

    It’s a shame because this was part of the lawsuit that was filed. though it was found that any city “could of what they wanted” . Strategic voting is required if you want your vote to count – and the event will not event allow other candidates to participate.

  9. Jonathan on August 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I appreciate Blane sharing his take on the politics of the candidates, which is missing from the article.

    Being a green socialist myself, I’m pleased to see a number of left/progressives are running. While Kaplan and Quan are the best known, Candell, Macleay, Hodge, and Tuman will likely bring the most interesting proposals.

    Conservative Oaklanders like Blane are always complaining Oakland is friendly enough to business. The truth is that the City has given away too much to businesses in vain attempts to compete with suburbia. Decades of efforts – decades of failure.

    The problem IMHO, is that we’ve never had a Mayor progressive enough, radical enough, and engaged with our grassroots enough, to take power from our local rich and lead our very progressive city.

  10. Don Macleay on August 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Good quick summary. Can I add one correction? I grew up in Canada, but worked for government in Nicaragua.

    Interesting comments too.


  11. Blane Forbes on August 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Well so much for integrity, looks like the website KGB agents have removed my comments – and for what? Having a sense of humor?

  12. MFraser on August 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Having just moved to Montclair from Point Richmond, I was immediately concerned about the ever worsening state of Oakland politics. Looking at this list, most stand out to me as ‘same old career politicians’ who seem to line their own pockets (Perata and Hodge as worst offenders), and neophites who can’t possibly be up to the challenges.

    I know Joe Tuman from 20-plus years ago when he was a debate coach at UC Berkeley, and I have to say that while maybe he doesn’t have the hard-knocks of a life in politics, I know for a fact Joe is a savvy guy and believe he would be a quick study, and obviously from his career as a political commentator and professor, has been studying such jobs for a long time. Joe is smart, pragmatic, and a straight shooter, all of which we can use. I think he has it right on keeping up policing in the short run, while finding ways to drive down the costs on these absurd public servant salaries. Joe speaks well, and is thoughtful. Couldn’t we use that in our Mayor at this point, someone who can represent the city well and perhaps help bring in new business to our city like Jerry Brown seemed to be able to?

    And no, I’m not plant; haven’t spoken to Joe in more than 20 years, nor anyone from his campaign, but I feel strongly enough that if he needs help, I’d likely give it if I can.

    Rebecca Kaplan also seems interesting to me, and as I read this list I agree she deserves more study and consideration.

    As for the rest – heaven help us!

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