Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker endorsed by Don Perata
on October 29, 2014
Former State Senator Don Perata, a longtime powerful leader in the California legislature and a top, 2010 candidate for mayor, on Wednesday endorsed Port of Oakland commissioner Bryan Parker, for mayor of Oakland.
“I’ve known Bryan for a considerable period of time, and I’ve admired for longer than I’ve known him,” Perata said, with Parker sitting by his side at a morning press conference in Perata’s consulting office in Orinda. “I believe he is the exact right person at the right time to lead Oakland.”
Perata believes Oakland’s image, in a competitive world, “has been tarnished,” he said. “People say, ‘Time moves on, people forget,’” Perata said. “They don’t forget. There are still people that remember the crack wars in the 80s that occurred in Oakland, the Felix Mitchell scourge that took place.” The reference was to a famous local druglord who was killed in 1986 and received a lavish public funeral. “I was in elected office then,” Perata said, “and it was hard to overcome that.”
Perata, whose practice includes lobbying on cities’ behalf for state government, said he chose Parker over current city officials like council member Rebecca Kaplan or Mayor Jean Quan, he said, because “in Oakland, not having been in office should be seen as a value, not a liability.” He said he is persuaded that “a lot of the shenanigans that go on at the City Council level — the interference with City Hall by the City Council — will summarily stop with Bryan, because he simply won’t allow it.”
Some of the most pressing issues for the city, Perata said, include protecting its sports teams, keeping the port open, and crime, Perata said. “When people tell me crime is down in Oakland, it really depends [on] where you live,” he said. “That’s an outrageous statement for anybody to make if you live below the 580” – one of the elevated freeways that run through the city — “and particularly if you live in East Oakland.”
He also discussed poverty in the city. “The poverty levels in some census tracts in East Oakland rival third world countries,” Perata said. “In fact, Third World countries might be better off, because they’re getting foreign aid.”
Perata said current Mayor Jean Quan, who beat him in 2010, had started her administration “on the wrong foot,” as he put it. “She was confused about her role when it dealt with Occupy Oakland. I think that has stigmatized her administration. Whether it’s fair or not, it doesn’t matter — she acted in a way that stigmatized her.”
Quan’s style, Perata said, also struck him as self-focused. “If you’re the mayor of Oakland or the mayor of any city, you should not have the word ‘I’ in your vocabulary, and there’s a lot of things that she talks about that she’s done, ‘her this,’ ‘I that,’” he said. “I don’t believe that that sets the tone that you want. If it rankles me, then I think it probably rankles a lot of people. No one person does anything successful in politics.”
With election day less than a week away, Parker said he was thrilled about Perata’s endorsement. “Humbled is the first word that comes to mind,” Parker said. “I think that this is a man in many people’s minds, in many Oaklander’s minds, that should have been our mayor right now.”
“What I admire about Don,” Parker said, “is just the ability to get stuff done. No nonsense, identifies issues, and solves problems. The fact that he thinks I’m the person that can solve those problems is, to me, humbling and I would hope that the voters would weigh strongly what he says.”
Perata said he was still perplexed by Oakland’s decision to begin choosing its mayors through the ranked-choice system, which essentially cost him the election. In 2010, Perata initially led in first-choice ballots, but lost to Quan after subsequent counting recalculated voters’ first, second and third choices. “I’ve never understood,” he said, “why people, one, would choose a voting system that would save money, which is one of the arguments that people say — ‘You get rid of an election.’ And secondly, no one can explain to you, to me, or anybody else, how the algorithm works that chooses. It’s a black box as far as I’m concerned.”
Perata was asked, since voters have three choices under the ranked choice voting system, who his own second and third choices would be, even though is not an Oakland resident and cannot vote in the city. “I think Joe Tuman is also someone who comes from the outside,” he replied. If he were to choose someone from the city council, he said he would choose Libby Schaaf.
Even though people should use all three of their votes, Perata still regards ranked-choice as a “silly system,” he said. “Frankly, if there are only five cities or four cities in the country that have ranked choice voting, is that really because we’re that smart?” Perata asked. “Someone used to say, ‘Well Nebraska is the only state that has a unicameral legislature.’ And I said, ‘Nebraska? You want to follow that trend?’ I feel the same way about ranked-choice voting.”
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