On Sunday, I was enjoying the sun and drinking with some friends, and the conversation turned to Oakland politics. I started talking about the need for change on the council and then I found myself saying some surprising things. I talked to my friends about how Rebecca Kaplan and Sean Sullivan are going to bring new life to the council and are going to get things done instead of just talking about getting things done.
Why did this surprise me? Well, any of my regular readers should know by now that I support Rebecca Kaplan and am volunteering for her campaign, but up until I voiced my opinion to my friends this weekend, I hadn’t really realized that I support Sean Sullivan.
You see, a few years ago, I really liked Nancy Nadel. And I’m sure I’ll get harassed for this, but I supported her mayoral campaign with my vote and a small donation. I have to admit that at the time, I didn’t know much about Oakland politics. I had only closely followed a couple issues that the council had considered, and I had bought into this idea that it was liberals vs conservatives on the council and that I should be voting for the “liberals.” I think I fell into the same trap that many groups are now falling into in their endorsement processes.
But over the past year and a half, I’ve followed Oakland politics extremely closely, thanks mostly to my fellow bloggers staying very on top of issues that the council has considered. And I’ve realized that the idealogical views of the council members are not so clear cut – they certainly don’t fall into the dichotomy of liberal vs conservative. The only way I can really divide the council is into those who get things done and those who talk about getting things done (this can also be seen as those who listen to and work with constituents and those who don’t).
Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that Nancy Nadel falls into the second group, and I’m hopeful that both Sean Sullivan and Rebecca Kaplan will fall into the first group.
If you’re still undecided and live in District 3, I highly recommend checking out Sean’s website, which lays out in great detail what he’ll work on if elected. I also recommend checking out the Tagami Vision interview with Sean:
(I learned an interesting fact from watching the Tagami Vision interviews with Kaplan and Sullivan – both of them were Edwards supporters who switched to supporting Obama when Edwards dropped out. Certainly not a reason to vote for someone, but it’s still nice to know that these two candidates see eye to eye with me on the presidential race.)
So I guess I’m bucking the trend of pretty much all the Bay Area liberal groups who’ve issued endorsements by supporting Rebecca Kaplan (who they’ve endorsed) and by supporting Sean Sullivan (who they’ve universally rejected). This whole campaign and endorsement process has really showed me that the only way to know who is the best candidate to vote for is to do the research yourself because even groups you share values with might not have a full grasp on the issues at stake. I’ve also learned that, especially in local politics, liberal vs. conservative branding is not an indicator of how effective or responsive a politician will be.