Skip to content

Nine candidates have their say at forum

on August 27, 2010

Nine candidates shared the spotlight at the Sierra Club’s Oakland mayoral forum on Wednesday night, despite selective invitations that initially drew criticism.

The forum, hosted in downtown Oakland by the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay chapter at the East Bay Community Foundation, allowed the candidates to discuss their particular plans for green governance. Candidates addressed five questions prepared ahead of time by Sierra Club members. Topics ranged from high-density, affordable housing to the creation of green jobs. A crowd of Sierra Club members, as well as many campaign volunteers out to support their candidates, attended the forum.

Although each candidate cited emissions from idling trucks and ships in the Port of Oakland as an environmental hazard, they diverged widely over how they would address the issue as mayor.

Don Perata, a former state senator and one-time senate president pro tem, said that regulating pollution from the port should be straightforward, since the Port Commission ultimately works for the mayor. “There shouldn’t be any need to ask for the cooperation,” Perata said. “You just get the cooperation.” He also mentioned $1 billion in untapped money from state proposition 1B that could pay for programs at the port.

Proposition 1B, passed in 2006, created $2 billion in bond money for the Trade Corridor Improvement Fund.  The money can be appropriated by the state legislature for improvements in what the federal government designates as trade corridors of “national significance.”

Terence Candell, executive director of Candell’s College Preparatory Academy, used his turn to ask Perata why he didn’t secure these proposition 1B funds for the Port of Oakland while in the state senate. Then Candell said that as mayor he would rewrite the city charter so that the mayor was responsible for truck upgrades in the port. Upgrades to engine parts that cause high carbon dioxide emissions are part of an ongoing effort to reduce toxins released by trucks in Oakland’s port.

Most candidates suggested small ways the port could be changed. Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said that upgrading vehicles to be more environmentally friendly was a good start, but added, “By the way, those retrofits need to be maintained.” Kaplan suggested an on-site maintenance center would keep the trucks’ pollution down.

Oakland City Councilmember Jean Quan promised to look at what the city of Los Angeles has done to control trucking emissions at its port, and many candidates referred to the L.A. plan, which puts more responsibility on trucking companies for the emissions coming from their trucks, as a model for Oakland. Truckers in Oakland’s port are currently responsible for the upkeep of their own trucks, which many candidates said is too financially onerous for such low-paid workers.

Candidate Arnold Fields took yet another approach, saying that the port should finance its own electric grid and new, “clean, green machines” to haul loads in and out.

However, former reporter and political consultant Joe Tuman said the city government’s relationship with the port was not so easy to navigate. “If there’s going to be an impact for that or a fix for that, it’s not going to come from us,” Tuman said, adding that the port falls outside the Oakland city government’s jurisdiction. The only way the mayor can control the port, Tuman said, is by changing the terms for the leases on the 13 points of entry into the port.

Candidates also addressed the idea of Oakland bringing in more sustainable energy by taking over its own power generation. The largest difference of opinion surfaced over whether PG&E was a viable partner for delivering solar and wind energy to Oakland residents and businesses.

Green Party candidate Don Macleay cited the need for a large partner like PG&E to bring sustainably produced energy to Oakland. “We have a lot of space available and we should use it,” said Macleay, “but I want to make sure we’re doing something that’s viable and realistic.”

Quan cast doubt on the workability of a relationship with PG&E. “In Oakland we were very heavily pressured by PG&E,” Quan said. “Then there was an effort to close that option before we even looked at it.” In June, California voted against a ballot measure that would have required majority voter approval for any municipality in the state to take over power generation. News sources reported that PG&E provided millions in funding to support the measure.

“I think we should have a little good capitalist competition here between green energy and PG&E over time,” Quan went on to say.

The last question of the night asked candidates how they would address “perpetually underfunded” parks and recreation programs, as well as tree planting efforts. Candidates went back and forth on whether funds exist for these programs. Perata was quick to say that the Urban Releaf program already plants trees in Oakland. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said, “just support what we have.”

While Joe Tuman said parks and recreation could not be a priority until Oakland digs out of its “enormous financial hole,” Kaplan went on to say that a focus on building Oakland’s economy would restore these programs in time.

Throughout the forum, the crowd’s mood appeared supportive of the candidates. Sierra Club members filed in wearing their green member stickers, and many campaign volunteers also attended.

If Wednesday’s forum had gone as originally planned, only three candidates would have presented their opinions to the crowd. The Sierra Club drew criticism after Kent Lewandowski, a volunteer chairperson, initially told several candidates by email that they would not be included. Only the three candidates deemed “most viable”—Quan, Kaplan, and Perata—would have had an opportunity to speak at the forum.

According to Kate Kelley, senior chapter director of the San Francisco Bay Sierra Club, the group’s candidate viability standards were adopted from guidelines created by the League of Women Voters. “Many organizations look to the League of Women Voters as a guide to create a format for these kinds of forums,” Kelley said. “We looked to them as our guide.”

The guidelines for viability range from points gauging the candidate’s level of political activity to more controversial and complex requirements.  According to the guidelines, a candidate must meet all of the requirements of a threshold list — including making a public intention to run, staffing a publicly accessible campaign headquarters, and having a website or other material with an articulated campaign platform.  Additional criteria exclude those who have not garnered over 5 percent favor in a professionally conducted opinion poll, received over 400 donations, received 20 percent of the vote in a previous general election, or held the office they are currently seeking.

The League of Women Voters is planning a September 23 forum using these guidelines, and only Quan, Kaplan, and Perata have been invited to attend.

Invited and uninvited candidates alike railed against the Sierra Club’s decision.  Perata pledged to boycott the event unless all guests were invited.  Rhys Williams, campaign spokesperson, said Perata felt participating in a comprehensive forum was the only “fair, democratic, and respectful” option.

An email sent by Dyra Candell, the Candell campaign’s chief of staff and wife of the candidate, accused the Sierra Club and Kent Lewandowski of elitism and bigotry. “The only thing that disappoints me is that the people of Oakland lose again because of elitist pigs like you,” the email read. Oakland North and other media outlets were sent copies of the correspondence.

Terence Candell said he fully supports his wife and backed the sentiment of the email at the time it was sent.  Though the Sierra Club eventually allowed all registered candidates to speak, Candell says he was stunned by the initial decision. “Oakland has never been an exclusive club, we’ve always tried to be inclusive,” he said.

The Ella Baker Center, formerly a participant in the forum through its initiative, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, retracted its support after the format became known. Abel Habtegeorgis, spokesperson for Ella Baker Center, said that a forum with only three participants would not be fair.  “We felt that too many candidates were excluded,” Habtegeorgis said. “We believe that candidate forums should be as fair and balanced as possible.”  Despite the organization’s approval of the decision to allow full participation, the coalition has decided to coordinate its own environmental forum on green jobs and climate action on September 15.

Media backlash followed the announcement as well.  An editorial in Oakland Local railed against the decision, saying the move seemed designed only to “keep people ignorant of what a broader field of candidates thought.”  Zennie Abraham, a local blogger, was a recipient of the original Sierra Club email sent to the uninvited candidates, and replied directly to Lewandowski to express his displeasure with the move.  “If The Sierra Club is not intellectually capable of solving the riddle of hosting a comprehensive forum for the people of Oakland, just don’t do one,” Abraham wrote.

Kelley said the public reaction prompted the Sierra Club’s format revision. “The candidates wanted it to be all-inclusive,” Kelley said. “When we received some pushback on our format, we made the change.”

While the expanded format allowed each of the participating candidates equal time to speak, it also limited the depth of responses. Ron Bishop, conservation chair on the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda executive committee, said there was no way to fully probe each candidate with a 90-minute time limit. “We could only ask so many questions,” Bishop said. “It would be an all-day event to have a serious discussion with every candidate.”

Ultimately, Candell said he was grateful for the effort undertaken by the Sierra Club to make their forum accessible to all. “I appreciate the fact that they backed off something they knew was wrong,” Candell said. “We are not the type to hold a grudge, we’ve got too much work to do.  We’ve got to make sure this city moves forward and everyone must be included.”

Other candidates said they were happy to receive a belated invitation to the forum. Referring to his campaign slogan, local realtor and community organizer Larry Lionel Young, Jr. said, “If Oakland wants change, if they want to be open and hear the democratic process, come November 2nd, they’ll vote ‘LL’ and Oakland will be well.”

Macleay said that he would like to see organizations use social media and the Internet to bring the candidates’ ideas to more people. “The Sierra Club could have interviewed us and put it on the Internet,” said Macleay. “Or they could hold events more like mixers.”

Oakland organizations are planning several more forums in the weeks before the mayoral election. In addition to forums on September 23 and October 21, the League of Women Voters would like to host an all-inclusive event that could later be posted to the Internet, according to member Helen Hutchinson.

Text by Laura Hautala and Evan Wagstaff.

Lead image: Rebecca Kaplan addresses the crowd as fellow candidates Larry Lionel Young, Jr., Joe Tuman, and Jean Quan take notes.

Connect with Oakland North on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.


  1. Valerie Lapin on August 28, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The court decision upholding the LA Clean Truck Program this week paves the way for the Port of Oakland to adopt a policy modeled after LA’s award winning program that holds the trucking industry responsible for a clean truck fleet and ends the illegal misclassification of port drivers as indendependent contractors instead of employees. What we currently have at the Oakland Port is a broken system that puts the shaft to taxpayers and truck drivers who earn the minimum wage. The result is that we’re all breathing toxic air that is making us sick. It’s time for the Port of Oakland to take decisive action so we may all breathe easier.

  2. rowerca on August 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hey there Oakland North. I appreciate your journalism, but perhaps this article could have gone into depth about what the candidates said instead of skimming over that and going into depth about the venue. I don’t know if you’ve got a beef with the Sierra Club, but we need to know who to vote for! Keep up the otherwise great work!

  3. fakcheck on September 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

    This is incorrect: “League of Women Voters is planning a September 23 forum using these guidelines, and only Quan, Kaplan, and Perata have been invited to attend.”
    Had you made the effort you could have easily verified with event sponsors that all candidates have been invited & informed of the standards for participation.

  4. Dyra Candell on September 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Kent and Zennie do not seem to think women can speak for themselves. I think that you are both SEXIST for posting that my husband wrote my letter. I am the one with the journalism degree. I suggest that if you have one, it is highly suspect, but submit that you probably do not. My husband can speak for himself. He hides behind the skirt of no woman. Nor do I need a man to put words in my mouth or thoughts in my head. The words I say I believe. I want to tell you about my husband and how I see the candidates in this race. I must tell you, up front, that my husband and I do not fully agree on my analysis, but we have disagreed before and continue to love each other.

    This is what I think voters really need to know (Beware! It is not sugarcoated):

    I am sick and tired of the conservatives, masked as democrats, telling my husband, Dr. Terence Candell, to “tone-it-down.” The hundreds of thousands of people with whom we have spoken and are the hub of this city have said, “Speak for us and yell it!”

    Words from a wife, a voter and an Oakland Taxpayer
    I am sure you heard the saying that, “You should never judge a book by its cover.” Yet, many people do. In fact, many have judged Candidate for Mayor of Oakland, Dr. Terence Candell, without looking into or asking about his background. For most Christian folks, that would be labeled a “sin”. Many have called him a preacher, a minister, the man in the fancy suits, the man with the red shoes, the arrogant man and even “The Black Messiah”. None of those labels define him. For those who may not have taken time out to look at his wonderful website, read news stories from Oakland Local, Oakland North, front-page headlines from the Oakland Post, and positive blogs from the SF Gate, here is your opportunity to learn of the inner beauty of the outwardly handsome man.
    Candell is one of ten children, born and raised in Oakland. His proud mother worked several jobs to keep food, clothes, and a roof over their heads. Food was not plentiful, the clothes were hand-me-downs with holes in the knees and holes in his shoes, and few siblings had their own rooms. Many children today can relate to these situations. Living in Oakland while poor.
    Due to his strong sense of pride, at a young age, Candell had to switch schools several times. He was subjected to ridicule from those who “had” and fought them for himself, his brothers and sisters and others who were victimized for not “having.” He persevered. Yet, he was kicked out of the home at the age of sixteen. This left him homeless. He starved for the first three weeks of being homeless. He slept on and under park benches and under recently driven car engines to keep warm at night – A situation to which too many of our young African American males can relate. He persevered.
    He worked two jobs. Two years later, Candell graduated High School at the top of the Honor Roll. After he graduated from college with honors, with a major in Political Science and a minor in Psychology, completing his teaching credential, receiving his Masters and two PhD’s, he founded several schools, became Director of several colleges and ran multi-million-dollar corporations. He realized that the situation he had to endure growing up in Oakland had become worse, not only for African American males, but for many people of color with whom he was raised.
    Our youth are not being properly educated; they are displaced, homeless, and hungry; and they are lead to drugs, prostitution, and violence without being provided any alternatives by any of our so-called “leaders” in Oakland.
    Terence Candell left the corporate workforce and sold his $35,000 muscle car to change the lives of our youth. He bought desks, computers, books and supplies and used the rest for marketing a school, his school, Candell’s College Prep. School – a school that prepares our youth, not just for college, but also for life itself. That was ten years ago. Since then, Candell has graduated hundreds of students. One hundred percent of them graduate, and one hundred percent are accepted to college. With that stellar record, he learned that he had founded the number one school in the history of this nation, without so much as a salary. Having started in the basement of his home and now owning the building located at 2544 73rd Avenue, once again, he persevered and our families have benefited from it.
    Over the years, Candell has worked hours on end with many organizations, pastors, judges, police, communities, parents, and youth to keep young people off of the streets, out of prostitution, out of juvenile hall, out of the county jails and prison, saved people from arrests, or even from being harassed and/or having their cars towed by police. He has written hundreds of reference letters for students to various colleges and for those youth who have made major changes in their lives, letters to get them off of probation. That is not all. Moreover, he has been and is available to people, most especially our youth, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, because he cares.
    As you have read, nothing about him has been for self-glorification or for economic gain. This is why Oakland citizens need him more than ever. It is time to follow Dr. Terence Candell’s example, and place the Oakland Community as a whole at the forefront, as opposed to placing value on our own personal enrichment or using us to get to the next political office.
    Don Perata has been in politics for a long time, just like Ron Dellums. Actually, they are very close in age. Aren’t they? What can he do for Oakland now? He has had a lifetime with plenty of opportunity to beautify Oakland and he chose not to. Now, he is insulting East Oakland citizens in the poor areas by hiring people who live in other cities to clean areas that the city has suddenly and conveniently (for the Perata campaign) left neglected.
    Does it bother him that people were being shot and killed, while he had people pushing a broom in the next block? People are shot and killed daily in those areas, due to the oppression and recession in Oakland? With all of the economic opportunity he has had to help Oakland citizens, most especially those in the poor areas he wants to clean with a broom, why didn’t he help them economically? Where is the money, Don? Perata only wants to help now, because he wants to be Mayor of Oakland. He did not help us. He will not now, and he will not ever. He will never be able to relate to our people or care enough to make any changes, if he becomes Mayor of Oakland. Wake up Oakland!! The broom is just a publicity stunt, and everyone should know it!
    Not only that: He has paid-off all of our so-called leaders, including Bob Jackson and De La Fuente. When they kicked him out of Sacramento, he tried to hold up funding for healthcare and education, until they agreed to overturn term limits, so he could stay. They never did. They stood up to him, calling him a “Bully” and saying that they refused to be bullied. Shouldn’t we stand up to him, too? After all, he lined his pockets with our money, when he was in Sacramento. Does he plan to rip-us-off as mayor of Oakland, too? He called them, “Crackers”, when they stood up to him, What will his term be for us? “Niggers? Wetbacks? Camel Jockeys? Chinamen?” Oh, no, my friends. We don’t need Don Perata any more than we need the President of Enron or the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Don’t say you didn’t know or nobody ever told you, because I just did… No excuses! Get Don out of our city and back to Alameda!
    Jean Quan, who speaks very fast, hoping you don’t realize that what she is saying is only half the truth, uses words that she herself doesn’t understand. She has also been in Oakland politics for far too long. That is her only record of accomplishment, “in Oakland politics far too long.” She constantly wants to remind you that she was on the school board, as if that is her claim to fame. Yet, she was on the school board that resulted in Randall Ward being appointed by the state to take over OUSD due to mismanagement of funds. Do you remember what a mess it was? It has never recovered from the Quan era! Then, she states that she is on the city council, but fails to mention that she was head of the Finance and Management Committee that put our city into a $100,000,000-dollar debt If she becomes mayor, whom will we appoint to clean up her mess? to clean up Oakland? Don? His exploits with our money have been numerous and shameless. The man should be in prison, not running for mayor. And, we talked about Marion Barry.
    So, what has Quan done for Oakland? Has she made a difference in the lives of Oakland citizens? Has she ever lobbied to help Oakland businesses? For example, the parking situation; the eight-million dollar irrelevant statue Oakland citizens are paying for; paying Phil Tagomi an extra two million, after paying him fifty-six million more than contracted for on the Fox Theater, due to his mismanagement; letting go of the three hundred million dollar deal with the Wayans Brothers and much more. Kaplan is guilty of the same errors in judgment. More on her later.
    Quan is not strong enough, another soft-spoken, mealy-mouthed politician with no power, and is already tied to special interests. That makes her a puppet, even before she gets into office. With all of the money she boastfully brags about having in front of the public and in the media, you wonder if she has miraculously found some of Oakland’s missing money. She could care less that that money could have fed thousands of hungry children all summer in Oakland. . It could have been used to give $500 scholarships to nearly 500 families. It could have been used to give more youth jobs this summer and much more. If she is that popular, why hasn’t she held fundraisers for your family? Does she care about you or just about making history as the first Asian woman mayor?
    Rebecca Kaplan is someone I cannot say anything about, mainly because she has not done anything… anywhere… for anyone. Why is she even in the race? She simply says, “I’m gay! I’m gay! I’m gay!” and everyone is supposed to vote for her… Not after that bungled City Council job. I don’t care who you’re sleeping with. We don’t give people raises for failing to do their job; we fire them. Rebecca, you’re fired.
    These three individuals have been plastered all over the media, as if you have no choice. Nevertheless, you do. The media cannot choose for Oakland residents. Most especially since the media writers, editors and broadcasters that endorse them do not live in Oakland. Terence Candell quoted an independent pollster on CBS news, putting him far ahead of the competition. Immediately thereafter, CBS came out with its own poll, putting the competition ahead. Who are they to give you a spurious poll when they only called people from a remote, mostly white, part of Oakland? I know that most of you have been polled by the independent pollster hired by the Friends of Candell, but CBS? I haven’t been polled by them. Have you been polled? Amazing!
    In order to bridge the age and race gap, curb the violence and brutality, get our youth off of the streets, build businesses, and have someone to speak up and not “tone it down” , Oakland needs Terence Candell. Oakland will need a person who has the fire, the experience, the strong will and the voracious drive to get the job done.. I just don’t see it in Perata, Quan or Kaplan. Besides, they had their chance, they have held office, and they blew it. They have plummeted us into debt, damaging our city and its residents. It is time for change in Oakland.
    Dr. Terence Candell, a real, humble servant of God first and of our community, is a shrewd, solutions-oriented businessman, is on the ballot and is ready to continue to serve Oakland in a major way. Oakland, let’s do something good for the youth and our community. Vote for Terence Candell on November 2nd. We will, as Candell has, persevere, and our families will benefit from it.

    Keep yelling it, Terence! The people need you!

    For more information visit

    PS. Zennie and Kent: Next time, come at me like a man, and stop hiding behind a computer.


    There are lots of powerful women on Doc’s campaign (97%). You will be hearing a lot more from us. You think he is unafraid? He’s a moderate.

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top