Oakland probably has the most sexually diverse election race ever. What if I told you that in the District Three Race for Oakland City Council, two of the leading candidates were Gay, and in another race, there’s an assertion that the candidate kind of goes both ways, and in yet another race, the candidate openly believes in having more than one person to sleep with. In the BART Board Race, Rebecca Saltzman, who’s Lesbian, is running for BART Board and I think will make an effective board member.
What’s interesting is that all of these candidates have a good chance of winning their election races. In the case of the District Three Race for Oakland City Council, both Sean Sullivan (who this blogger endorsed) and Alex Miller Cole (who I’ve not met) are Gay. In the other two races I’m not going to mention the names of the people because in one case the blogger source is not reliable and takes to having personal issues with people he does not know and has not met, and in the other case, the candidate has not made that part of that person’s life completely public.
Here’s the question: does it matter from a standpoint of the person’s ability to do the job? The answer is, no. But it’s important to mention because it’s a true watershed moment in Oakland’s political history. I can’t remember a time when Oakland’s had such an election season that’s both racially and sexually diverse.
Now, here’s the other question: does it matter to the electorate. And that answer is, basically, yes – but not in the way you might think. Oakland has a significant and active LGBT population that’s helped to propel Rebecca Kaplan to her current position as Oakland’s At-Large City Council Member. Some observers think the same population is “split” between Sullivan and Cole with respect to the District Three Race, but the knock on both by some others is that they’re not in tune with Black West Oakland – a charge Mr. Sullivan would certainly and effectively attack with relish.
What has bothered me in that discussion about the District Three Race is that it seems Sullivan and Cole get more attention and talk because they’re white, male, and Gay. There’s some sad truth to that, but the fact is both get more attention because they’re a bit more savvy at Social Media than most of their Black election competitors.
None of the African American Oaklanders running for District Three have as active a Facebook or Twitter page as Cole and Sullivan, or for that matter (with the exception of Damon Eaves) a complete website. Some may not like that I’m making such a distinction, but it’s one that’s there to make – it should not be.
And in the case of Mr. Eaves, his well-engineered website lacks a tab to visit a Facebook Page, and there’s no YouTube channel. All of these approaches cost nothing other than time to implement – a candidate who’s as good in this area as they are making phone calls and knocking on doors can easily win an election in Oakland.
And on that note, the other problem is one of ego: the majority of candidates don’t reach out much beyond people they know, yet they want to win the race. I endorsed Sean not just because he has done a good job of maintaining involvement between elections, but also because he reached out to talk to me about why he was running. The vast majority of candidates don’t do that – and you think, considering I blog, they would. I’m not a journalist; I’m a blogger. If you want my opinion to be favorable to you, it helps to contact me. Hard, factual, truth.
The bottom line is there are enough people who, regardless of sexual orientation, know the candidates well enough to make a choice based on issues and involvement, and even if they don’t, really don’t care much about what the person does in their own bedroom. That speaks for me, as I’m straight, as it’s true for a vast number of Oaklanders. It says a lot for how far Oakland has come, not that it needed to be “advanced” at all, but that our city continues to be far ahead of the rest of the nation.