Who will be Oakland’s next mayor? Candidates talk public safety and other issues at forum
on October 29, 2022
Nine candidates who want to be Oakland’s next mayor answered questions about gun violence, the environment and quality of life before an audience of about 50 voters Thursday at St. Columba Catholic Church in northwest Oakland.
The forum was sponsored by Faith in Action East Bay, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Alpha Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Oakland chapter of the NAACP.
The Rev. Ken Hamilton moderated, giving each candidate two minutes to respond to questions about gun violence, the climate crisis and other issues affecting Oakland residents. A 10th candidate, Tyron Jordan, did not attend.
For their first question, candidates were asked for their plans to address gun violence, as 2022 marks the third consecutive year Oakland has seen 100 or more gun-related deaths. Oakland city councilmember Treva Reid said that she would declare gun violence a public health crisis on day one and deepen the mayor’s partnership with the district attorney’s office.
“The unchecked lawlessness that has wreaked havoc on our community has caused too many of us to live in fear,” she said.
Councilmember Sheng Thao said she would focus on violence prevention, expand the Ceasefire program and revamp the makeup of police departments.
“I want to fill the police agencies with diverse officers,” Thao said. For her, addressing the root cause of violence includes investing in young people and people of color by showing them what success could look like in the world of law enforcement.
Councilmember Loren Taylor’s response received murmurs of approval from the crowd.
“We have to help educate our young people on how to resolve conflict, mediate challenges in a way that doesn’t lead to physical violence and picking up guns,” Taylor said.
Candidate Peter Liu, who was wearing a scarf that covered his entire face and drew audible gasps from the audience on some of his answers, said, “If I were mayor, I’d have a new police chief that will be issuing conceal carry permits like candy.”
Aside from gun violence, a question about the environment and the city of Oakland’s 2030 equitable climate change plan spurred interaction from voters. From quiet murmurs of agreement to louder shouts to encourage candidates, audience members clapped, nodded and occasionally stomped their feet when candidates’ answers resonated with them.
John Reimann said that a profit-driven society and corporate greed is a detriment to the environment.
“We need a working class party that is dedicated to the idea of ending profit-driven economies,” Reimann said.
Seneca Scott also spoke about the economy, focusing on what it could offer Oakland residents in the future.
“We need to develop a soil-based economy and nutrition-dense land,” Scott said. His plan includes adding more green jobs, partnering with developers and creating an agriculture department in Oakland so the city can be more self-sustainable.
Greg Hodge said banning natural gas would be a good place to start, as well as focusing on what technology can do to help.
“There’s an opportunity around green tech and technology startups,” Hodge said.
Ignacio De La Fuente talked about the climate issues already facing Oakland.
“We have a crisis today,” De La Fuente said. “But I can tell you that we have a responsibility to retain and attract [green] jobs.”
For civil rights attorney Allyssa Victory, finding ways to improve life expectancy for Oakland residents was at the top of her mind.
“There’s a 10-year life expectancy [difference] for people living in East Oakland than those living in Downtown,” Victory said. Her solution includes expanding partnerships with local indigenous tribes to increase native land stewardships, and better educating people and businesses on how to reduce their carbon footprints.
Hamilton wrapped up the forum with a church tradition: having the candidates say something nice about each other.
Reid went first, saying she was excited to not only see Victory there but about the possibility that one of them could become the first Black woman mayor of Oakland. De La Fuente said he admired Scott’s commitment to his community. Victory thanked Hodge for being a mentor to her and thanked everyone present who helped get her back on the ballot after a bureaucratic error pushed her off.
In their closing statements, many candidates touched on the fact that Oakland is approaching a moment of change. What kind, and how big the change will be, will be determined on Nov. 8.
This story was updated to include Tyron Jordan.
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