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Mayoral candidate: Dan Siegel

on May 21, 2014

Attorney and Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel has some big plans for the city. And he wants your vote.

“I have the ideas, experience, and ability to be a great mayor of the city of Oakland,” Siegel said. He faces a tough field that so far includes 14 other competitors for the city’s top job.

The longtime civil rights lawyer and independent candidate has a detailed proposal to combat what he feels is the biggest issue facing Oakland: the threat to public safety. If elected mayor, Siegel said he will reorganize and reform the Oakland Police Department by implementing community policing and assigning investigators to beats.

“By having two investigators in each beat, we’ll have a lot greater ability to actually both investigate issues as they arise in the beat, but more importantly to solve those issues,” Siegel said, pointing to the low rate at which the department solves crimes in the city.

But, he said, the issue of public safety isn’t confined to the police department. He sees economic opportunity—jobs—as the most effective way to deter crime. “I have proposals to do that [create jobs] including construction and painting cooperatives that will employ the recently incarcerated,” Siegel said.

Siegel pointed to Cleveland, which has created large-scale cooperative businesses performing laundry services and greenhouse services for institutions like hospitals and universities.

“That’s the key to a safe city—an employed city,” he said.

The highly controversial surveillance system called the Domain Awareness Center, or DAC, should be closed, Siegel said. While he is in favor of cameras in specific high crime neighborhoods and the ShotSpotter system, Siegel said DAC doesn’t improve public safety.

“I think that its primary focus is to gather intelligence on people who live in Oakland, whether they are politically active or active in labor unions, and connect that to the NSA and other federal agencies that are already involved in snooping on us,” Siegel said.

Education is also an important issue to Siegel, who wants to propose that every school in Oakland be adopted by a business, a church, or labor union.

“When I speak about it with ministers or stakeholders in the city, there’s openness to it. I mean, the devil’s in the details, and we’re going to need to find about 100 institutions of that nature who will be convinced to partner with local schools,” Siegel said.

However, another institution that Oakland residents hold dear to their hearts might not have such an avid supporter in Siegel—the city’s sports franchises. “I really love having the sports teams here.  I’m a sports fan myself,” he said. “But I don’t think that city—public—money should be going into building big stadiums for billionaires.”

Siegel said there are some areas where the city can provide support for these teams by helping assemble the land for stadiums and offering tax breaks. “But, I will not have the city doing what the city of Oakland and Alameda County did to fund the improvements for the Raiders stadium out at the Coliseum area which, as you know, is still costing the city of Oakland $10 million a year to retire that debt,” he said.  “I think it’s absurd.”

Siegel said it seems as if many of Oakland’s mayoral candidates are starting to sound the same; community policing, a raise in the minimum wage, and school improvements are becoming common themes. And while he says he’s glad the debate is changing, he also wants voters to take note of the other candidates’ records on these issues.

“And without breaking my arm patting myself on the back, I think it’s fair to say that every place I’ve worked, and every institution I’ve served … we’ve  been able to make big changes and actually bring these kinds of things about,” Siegel said.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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