Rules for running for Mayor of Oakland – Rule #4

15 Jun

I let this series drop off, but now that the June election’s over, I thought I’d start it up again.

Rule #4: Don’t pass up important opportunities to get your message out, but if you must, don’t be overly dramatic and provide ridiculous reasons for doing so

Last week, 100 Black Men and OaklandSeen held the  first mayoral forum for the November election. As you’ve likely read, the event was well attended and all candidates but one were there. Though he initially agreed to participate, Don Perata pulled out just a few days before the forum.

I must admit, that like Perata, I think it was a bit early to hold a mayoral forum. The June election just happened last week, most people haven’t started thinking about November yet, and the field of candidates isn’t even close to solidified. But in the course of campaigns lots of silly and sometimes annoying things happen. If you’re a serious candidate, you roll with the punches and grab any opportunity to get your message out to voters and opinion leaders.

So it somewhat surprised me when Perata decided not to participate in this forum. And I was floored by his reasoning and his wide-reaching statement:

I regret that I will not attend any mayoral forums until the official filing deadline for mayor has closed and the full field of aspirants is known.

Woah. So not only did he skip out on last week’s forum, but he will not attend any forums for the next two months! Just because he’s the presumed front-runner in the race doesn’t mean that Perata can ignore debates without losing ground. The other candidates will have a huge opportunity to get their messages out, while the only message Perata will be sending is that he’s too important to be bothered.

But it gets worse:

Holding mayoral debates before all candidates are declared is undemocratic and misleads voters.

Yeah. Perata just dissed OaklandSeen and 100 Black Men, as well as any organizations that will be holding mayoral forums or debates in the next two months. I don’t see how forums could possibly be “undemocratic” or “mislead voters” unless the organizers lied and said that the filing date had passed. As long as it’s explained that the race is still in flux, I think it’s fine to start educating voters about the policy positions of the candidates, just as the candidates themselves (including Perata) have been doing at town hall-style forums and by campaigning door to door.

Perata doesn’t end there though:

In particular, Mayor Dellums has yet to announce his intentions as is his right as an incumbent. The mayor is running for re-election until he says he’s not, or when filing closes in August. Ron Dellums has served our community for almost four decades. He’s well entitled to such consideration.

This is totally ridiculous. First off, it’s pretty clear that Dellums isn’t running. He’s terribly unpopular with voters and he’s having plenty of personal monetary problems. There’s no way he could win, and even if he could, I’m not sure he’d want to as he doesn’t seem to be enjoying the job much.

But even if there was a chance that Dellums was running, it’s incumbent upon him to announce that. If he was running and decided to wait this long to announce, that would be his own fault. Campaign strategies are tricky and to each his own, but nobody, not even an incumbent, can expect a race to wait for him to make up his mind.

Perata might have thought that this open letter would shame other organizations into not planning further mayoral forums, but I don’t see that happening. Too many Oaklanders are interested in this race, and though the week of the June election might have been a bit early for a forum, soon Oaklanders will begin thinking more seriously about the candidates for mayor and they’re not going to wait until Dellums announces to form their opinions.

26 Responses to “Rules for running for Mayor of Oakland – Rule #4”

  1. Ralph June 15, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    That was a rather arrogant and stupid move on Perata’s part. It seems rather odd especially from a man who has been both mailing non-mayoral flyers for the sole purpose of putting his name in front of people and conducting town hall mtgs. A forum is a forum is a forum. Maybe DP doesn’t care about black people.

    I’ve been thinking about this race since June 2006. I am ready to hear what candidates have to say about the issues. And what

  2. Justin June 15, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I think Perata should have gone to the debate. He would have done very well, I am sure, but I can understand why he didn’t. For one, Perata could be forgiven for assuming that this particular forum would be far from neutral ground. Given the hosts, and the early date, I would conclude that the event would be full of inside baseball players.

    Having gone to and done plenty of forums myself, I have concluded that they rarely provide an opportunity to change minds. I think folks like the idea of forums because they feel like they can really hear from the candidates and get into the issues, but the fact of the matter is, you can’t really. In fact, if Perata had gone, everyone would have heard even less from all the candidates. If you want to be an informed voter, you need to do a lot more. The best thing to do would be to try and see each candidate alone, in a house meeting or community meeting setting, or, of course, at your door. I know that’s not always easy, practical, or even possible, but a candidate that doesn’t make that an option for you doesn’t deserve your vote.

    I agree that one shouldn’t miss important opportunities to get one’s message out. Was this an “important” opportunity, though? I’m not so sure.

    • Ralph June 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

      To be honest, I think this is the first time that I heard anything of value from the candidates. Heck, JQ even sounded mayoral. I’ve attended a few flashy affairs, including Perata TH at Lake Merritt. Not once, at any of those events, did a candidate say something to make me bend over backwards for them. Perata being the most offensive.

      Perhaps DP misunderstood or maybe he understood entirely. From what I observed, the candidates answered questions and did not take pot shots, and I believe the intent was to acquaint the voter with the candidates, not to take potshots and not to debate each other. (Of course, in his absence pot shots here and there were warranted.)

      At the Perata event I attended, he was incapable of answering any question on point. Perhaps this forum would have exposed him.

      I would think with IRV I need less debate and actually more discussion of the issues to hear who more aligns with my thought process. I hope going forward, we can have more of these events with specific focus – safety, development, infrastructure etc.

      • stupid season is here June 16, 2010 at 5:09 am #


  3. Robert June 15, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    100 Black Men is the organization that drafted Ron Dellums and persuaded him to come out of retiremement to run for mayor of Oakland. If not for them, Ron Dellums would be a beloved, respected, and _retired_ politician. Instead, he came out of retirement, as well as out of Berkeley, to run against front-runner Ignation De La Fuente. To put it as mildly as possible, I don’t think their agenda was in Dellums’ best interest or in the best interests of the city of Oakland. I’m not inclined to rely on their attempt to embarrass Perata.

    • Becks June 15, 2010 at 11:39 am #

      Fine, but then why did Perata agree to participate in the first place?

      • Justin June 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

        Good question. I dunno

      • das88 June 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

        I’m guessing he agreed when he thought it would be a smaller more select group of candidates. With so many, it would have been easy for them to take pot-shots at him without enough time to respond well.

        Alternatively, Maybe Perata is just really out of it. I don’t know if it is true or not but at last night’s LPAB open-forum Sanjiv Handa claimed that Perata’s opposition to city boards and commission is that he thought all of the members were paid.

  4. Jenny M June 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Why did Perata change his mind? He said why in his statement. There is no conspiracy. Plus, the “huge turnout” is misleading. It was around 75% filled with badge-wearing supporters of candidates. “Preaching to the converted” rather than informing the undecided public.

    Kaplan hasn’t even declared yet. Is the implication that anyone can walk in off the street and participate in the “mayoral debate”? Publicity stunt or thoughtful democratic process? The answer is simple: she is exploiting the mayoral platform to feed her own unending ego. Enough already.

    JQ sounding mayoral? Are you kidding? Just what Oakland needs: an inarticulate mayor who wants glory and not responsibility; she is a person who refuses to take responsibility for her choices.

    The other candidates don’t bear mentioning. One seems to be a megalomaniac, another put me to sleep…yes, it was a circus. Perata’s decision not to participate separates him from a motley crew. Will the real mayoral candidate who can make a positive change in Oakland — please stand up!?

  5. Don Macleay June 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    I am glad that the forum was NOT a field of pot shots.

    The Senator has all kinds of resources at his disposal and may have a very clear (and controlling) idea of how he handles his public and press exposure.

    There will be a town hall meeting this next Saturday, June 9th at noon at The Oakland Metro Operahouse, 630 3rd St. Oakland CA. 94607 where all candidates will be very welcome. Along with myself, Candel, Harland, and Johnson will be there. Everyone has been invited.

    Maybe he will come?

  6. Naomi Schiff June 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    It may be that it is easier to get away with issuing condescending and evasive statements when holding state office than when you are in a town where quite a few people have a passionate interest in local affairs. DP is still orienting himself, I guess: apparently he has not been involved with average citizens on the local level in quite some time, and hasn’t been an involved Oakland community activist, unlike many of the other candidates.

    • stupid season is here June 16, 2010 at 5:08 am #

      This comment doesn’t even make any sense.

  7. stupid season is here June 16, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    It might be time to start identifying yourself as an advisor to and supporter of Rebecca Kaplan. Maybe a disclaimer?

    • Becks June 16, 2010 at 11:44 am #

      I don’t see why a disclaimer is needed. If I provided a disclaimer every time I support or am friends with a politician or candidate, there would be a disclaimer on nearly everyone of my political blog posts.

      I feel it’s extremely important to provide a disclaimer when I am paid by a candidate, campaign, or organization, and I am extremely careful about this. Search “disclaimer” on my blog and you’ll see how diligent I am about this.

      You might also notice that I started this series before I even knew Rebecca Kaplan was considering running for mayor and was calling out what I thought were bad campaign practices at the time. So this isn’t something I just created to support Rebecca Kaplan.

      But yeah, I’m a huge Rebecca Kaplan supporter and have been for many years. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden that on this blog (or anywhere else for that matter).

      • Andy K June 17, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

        This guy (ssih) doesn’t deserve such a dignified response.

  8. JoCo June 16, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Lesson 5: Don’t approach this blog as a non-partisan commentary on Oakland’s mayoral race.

    Becks is supporting the sort-of-undecided-candidacy of Rebecca Kaplan. Nothing wrong with that, so why not just state it when writing anti-everyone-else propaganda?

    • Becks June 16, 2010 at 11:45 am #

      Non-partisan? They’re all Democrats (well, at least all the viable candidates).

  9. Willie June 16, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    You do a great job covering Oakland, but like a lot of insiders, you assume the public is just like you. The election in November will be decided by approximately (+/-) 80,000 Oaklanders — not the small circle that holds “debates” for anyone who wants to show up and bring their supporters. I don’t understand why Perata originally said yes to 100 Black Men, since the agenda was so transparent for their new friend, Ms. Kaplan. However, there were few if any undecided voters at the meeting, so this romantic notion of talking to “the people” through that medium is just that. Personally, I regard involved community “activists” as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Wake up folks — Oakland government isn’t working and clusterf””k “debates” offer little in the way of solving that dilemna.

    • Becks June 16, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      Maybe I didn’t make it clear, but I wouldn’t have faulted Perata for not attending this forum if he had just turned it down in the first place. As I mentioned, I think it was kind of ridiculous to hold this forum so early.

      What I think is the bigger issue is that Perata, instead of just not agreeing or even pulling out for some other reason, made a blanket statement that he will not participate in any mayoral debates until the filing deadline. That’s totally ridiculous and arbitrary and suggests that Perata feels like he’s making the rules in this race.

    • Ralph June 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

      Why are involved community activist part of the problem, not part of the solution?

      Perata never had any intention of appearing. He should have just said no.

  10. Naomi Schiff June 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Ralph, I think involved community activists are part of the solution, and have at least shown a high level of interest, which is a very good thing. Not everyone who reads/posts here at Living in the O is a Kaplan supporter. Becks is providing a forum; she is doing the work, she runs it, and it is her prerogative to say what she wants to say. She has not laid a claim to impartiality. I find her thoughts and writing useful even though I don’t necessarily agree with everything she says.

  11. Ralph June 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Naomi, I was actually curious as to why Willie stated community activist are part of the problem? I always find the thoughts of those with whom I disagree useful.
    I assume community activist think that they are part of the solution.
    So Willie, why are community activist part of the problem?

  12. Willie June 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    There are many people, on this blog and around town, doing what they can to make our city a better place to live. That, of course, a good thing. But I see “activists” as the bunch who petitioned Ron Dellums to return from Washington to save Oakland. I see them as the driving force behind the defunct and empty Dellums’ task forces. I see them expending a lot of energy at meetings, arguing, attacking, and defending, without ever addressing the real issues. I see activists as thinking that most candidates forums are relevant to anyone but other activists. Oakland city government is on the verge of collapse and we need something entirely different. Yet the “activists” just keep on acting the same. We are in desperate need of leaders who will lead in elected office, not “activists” pushing their own agendas. Just my view, since you asked.

    • Ralph June 16, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      Ahh, those activists. You won’t get an argument from me.

  13. Oaktown Republic June 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    People! People! All this Kaplan and Perata bashing needs to stop.

    If it continues, we’ll end up with Jean Quan as mayor. Oh. My God.

  14. Ralph June 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Frankly all this bashing must end! And who is bashing Kaplan? I see no Kaplan bashing here.

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