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Mayoral candidate: incumbent Mayor Jean Quan

on May 21, 2014

Undaunted by critics of her leadership, incumbent Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, the first Asian American woman elected to lead a major U.S. metropolis, is fighting to keep her job at City Hall.  Her platform stresses a lifetime of service, from her days as a councilmember working to keep libraries open, to her Peace in the Parks program aiming to unite families in East and West Oakland.

Raised by a single immigrant mother, Quan was an activist in the Third World Liberation Front Strike and  Asian American Political Alliance of 1968. She and her husband, physician Floyd Huen played a key role in establishing the Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. This early experience fueled her desire to fight for equitable schools as an Oakland school board member.

“The city can only move forward if our communities are better organized and working together.  To me, this is what progress looks like,” said Quan in a statement released by her campaign to Oakland North.  She issued the written statement in place of an in-person interview requested by Oakland North. 

“Safety in every Oakland neighborhood is the biggest challenge we face, along with equitable economic development.  We’ve taken historic steps to reform the Oakland Police Department to make it more effective, more accountable, and more reflective of our community,” she said.

While much of the criticism of Quan’s administration has focused on her handling of police issues, especially during Occupy Oakland, she insists she’s made progress there too, working with the police force “so while rebuilding its numbers, we’re careful to recruit young officers,” she said.

The young command staff is now geographically accountable to the neighborhoods they serve, she noted, asserting that most major crimes now are trending downward. Residents can now email their local area commanders with their concerns, she said, adding that her administration has made more cops available for duty on the streets by hiring civilians to do work that sworn officers don’t need to do.  

Quan’s latest budget included funding for additional dispatchers for faster 911 responses.

To reduce robberies, up to 75 percent of which are smartphones and other portable electronics, she added she’s fought for kill switch legislation like that which is currently making its way through the state legislature. Meanwhile, she noted, Operation Ceasefire is focused on holding those who perpetrate violence on the city’s streets accountable.

On the economic front, Quan said her administration recently broke ground at the old Army Base site, a project that languished for decades, “providing good, sustainable, union jobs to the people who need them the most through the West Oakland Job Center.”

Quan also pointed to the Brooklyn Basin development as another source of jobs in retail and affordable housing to relieve some of the housing crunch as Oakland has become more popular.

She pledged to continue building affordable housing, with a goal of devoting 25 percent of units in her new 10K Two plan to low income and working people “so that Oakland remains economically and culturally diverse,” she said.

To keep jobs in Oakland, Quan said she has been fighting to keep multiple options open for sports teams to thrive in the city.  “The Coliseum City project is very much alive as a promising development for East Oakland and was driven by my administration,” she said.

“We are also offering a second site, the waterfront site at Howard Terminal in Jack London Square, which would work for more than one team.  We believe we have the best sites, the most interested investors, and the best fan base to offer,” she added.

Quan contended that the controversial Domain Awareness Center is necessary to protect both the Port of Oakland and vulnerable populations in the city.  The port supports over 73,000 jobs regionally and is a critical driver of Northern California’s economy.  At the same time, she said, her team is committed to progressive privacy policies, even as it prepares for emergencies.

On the education front, Quan said through her spokesperson that she understands that the Common Core has provided teachers with useful tools to deepen learning in the classroom.  However, she added she is aware that there are issues with its implementation.  “We have to back up new policies with adequate funding, support and collaborative partnerships for youth to be successful,” she said.  “We must maintain our concern that testing does not drive teaching.”

Through the Oakland Education Cabinet, a stronger school-to-career pipeline with internships and preparation programs for young people is in the works so they can access well-paying jobs in STEM fields and healthcare, she added.

Quan said her administration is on its way to realizing its vision of a safe, prosperous, and diverse community.

“Another term will give us the opportunity to carry through with this vision, to keep Oakland progressing, to continue to build community and dialogue across our differences,” she said.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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