Mayor-elect Jean Quan announces transitional committee members
on December 3, 2010
Mayor-elect Jean Quan announced at a City Hall press conference Thursday afternoon that she has selected longtime Bay Area government administrator Henry Gardner to chair her transitional committee. Gardner, who accompanied Quan at the press conference, was Oakland’s city manager from 1981 to 1993 and recently retired as the executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments. Quan also revealed a list of 24 people she has tapped for the transition committee, which included names of other longtime politicians, as well as members of local businesses and non-profit organizations.
“This is an amazing group of people,” Quan said. “If I could have a dinner party of 24 people in Oakland, it would be this group—they really represent a wide variety of opinions.”
A press release from Quan’s office said that the group will meet through January and recommend priorities for her first year as mayor. “I’m hopeful they will develop priorities that will be practical, doable, and will move Oakland forward,” Quan states in the press release.
Included in the transition team are Oakland police chief Anthony Batts; Claudia Cappo, the former director of Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency; and former city councilmember Dick Spees, whose District 4 seat Quan won after Spees’ retirement. Representatives of nonprofits including the Ella Baker Human Rights Center and the Oakland Parks Coalition also ranked among the all-volunteer transition team. Oakland developer Mike Ghielmetti of Signature Properties, who is a former Don Perata supporter, and local businessman Todd Vedock, who was the campaign manager for mayoral hopeful Joe Tuman, are also on the list.
“I made a particular point of asking the three major opponents in this race to give me people to be considered in this group,” Quan said. “I’m hoping to have a city that’s more unified, and I’m hoping that this will be a step towards consensus. And if it’s not—if you can’t build consensus—at least to understand what the differences are.” Quan’s push for consensus follows her victory in a tight ten-way race: she beat Don Perata, her closest competitor, by fewer than two points in November during Oakland’s first mayoral election decided by ranked choice voting. Of the first choice votes, candidate Rebecca Kaplan claimed 21.58 percent, while Tuman took 12 percent.
Gardner listed the selection of a new city administrator as a top priority for the transition committee. Oakland mayor Ron Dellums appointed the current city administrator, Dan Lindheim, and Quan said she will not reappoint him to that position when her term starts. “He may stay after that in another role,” Quan said. “I don’t think he ever intended to stay in that role.” Lindheim has agreed to stay on as city administrator until a replacement is found.
In Oakland’s “strong mayor” system, the city administrator works directly under the mayor to administer policy and oversee all city agencies and departments. Quan said she and her search team will look for a candidate with experience and the willingness to take risks. She also said she hopes to choose the new city administrator “by the end of January or February.”
When asked if hiring a woman or person of color was a priority, Gardner said, “We would hope that the search would result in a very diverse pool of candidates, that the candidates should look like Oakland.” Gardner also clarified that he is not interested in the job for himself. “My role is purely one of a volunteer,” he said.
In addition to identifying new members for the mayor-elect’s administration, Gardner said he would direct the committee to consider an array of concerns for Oakland as they propose priorities for Quan’s administration. “There will also be focus on cultural programs in the city, our libraries, of course the museum, parks and recreation,” Gardner said.
Quan also announced as mayor she would hold frequent meetings with the press, and solicited preferred days of the week and times from reporters in the room. Dellums’ administration has received frequent criticism for being unavailable both to the public and to the press. “Because access to the mayor was a major criticism we heard… we’re planning a weekly briefing,” Quan said
Gardner seconded Quan’s decision. “I hope that my tenure here in Oakland illustrated this: the press is not your enemy,” he said.
Inage: Mayor-elect Jean Quan (right) with Henry Gardner, the newly appointed chair of Quan’s transition committee. Photo by Ye Tian
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