Oakland News: Oakland City Council Races 48-hrs Before Election Day

In this Oakland News you know it’s just 48 hours before election day when on Saturday night, you see Nyesha DeWitt’s campaign truck parked on Broadway at 10 PM. Have to admit, this blogger’s never seen a U-Haul used to get out a candidate’s vote, but that was the case here:

So with that, let’s assess the Oakland City Council races, starting with a video interview I conducted with Lynette McElhaney, who’s running for the Oakland City Council’s District Three seat and another one with comments I made while talking with her at the new Lakeview Cafe on Lakeshore next to Lake Merritt (say that three times real fast).

Here’s Lynette:

Now, a quick comment on the state of blogging in Oakland. It’s not blogging that’s dead, it’s just that the attitudes of the people who make the comments about that are screwed-up. There are people I’ve invited to blog here to turn down the invite, then make weird statements about the state of media. But then there are people like Nancy Sidebotham, a long-time Oakland politico who unsuccessfully challenged Oakland Council President Larry Reid for the District Seven seat in 2008, who do take the plunge and blog at Zennie62 (her post is up today).

The bottom line is media today is very much a DIY affair, and locally the only model that really does work is a collaborative one. Also, with smart phones and text messaging, mobile blogging, even if it’s just using a photo, is easy. That said, it’s like pulling teeth to get people to come in to the new way. This blogger has 76 blogs and over 300 social media platforms, and last I checked over 800,000 Twitter followers, so the person who uses this system gets to be part of a vast network. Plus, I’ve paid bloggers to contribute this year.

Overall, I can say Sean Sullivan does get it, as he’s used Zennie62 to present his message on several occasions. Don MacCleay, who’s running for the District One Council Seat, and who used to put his blog posts here, just plain stopped. But then I don’t hear much from Don at all. After some coaxing, Mario Juarez, who’s running for Oakland City Council District Five, took the plunge and wrote his first blog post, which came up as a Twitter tweet that was ranked #4 in a search for #Oakland for about 4 days. Not bad. From a social media perspective, Sean, Alex Miller Cole, and Lynette have been the best of a less-than-good bunch, with one exception: At Large Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Both Oakland City Attorney Candidates Jane Brunner and Barbara Parker have been almost non-existent in social media terms, with Barbara just ahead of Jane in what little content production they’ve done. All of these folks miss the boat. People are too busy, and Oakland has a new, younger electorate that doesn’t read the established publications, not even online. That’s not a mistake that the recent Backyard Farming Poll reported that over 64 percent of the 1,400 people polled in District One and District Three were undecided.

Now, back to Rebecca. She gets it, and to that, sent this YouTube video for posting…

And which has been seen 692 times already, which means that it’s getting distributed quickly, especially when you consider the small size of the Oakland electorate. What I’ve found is, in Oakland, a video only has to have been seen about 150 times before it sparks word of mouth. In other words, you don’t have to have everyone see the video, just have a few key influencers see it, and you’re off to the races. Consider that if there are 150,000 voters, about 50,000 of them actively use social media and of that a scant 1,000 actually produce content, rather than read it. That includes Twitter tweets. So, if you can be part of what they see, and they talk to others, that’s a big deal. Why? Because the other 100,000 get their information, as several people in Adams Point have told me, via word of mouth.

Now social media’s not the only way to get out the word – the best way still is walking. Getting into the faces of people who are out there. Sean Sullivan has a good GOTV effort, as does Amy Lemly, Richard Reyas, and Dan Kalb in District One, Rebecca for At Large, Lynette and Nyesha and Alex Miller-Cole for D3, and Larry Reid for D7. While the other candidates seem to be counting on just a mailer – which is stupid – they have a concentrated, comprehensive effort. Of course, that’s driven by money, where Sean, Alex, and Amy have been among the top money-gainers.

Now, those mailers.

Some insiders think Barbara Parker has the Oakland City Attorney’s Race sewn up. But a last minute blast of two mailers by Jane Brunner could have some impact. Some. I see a problem. The mailer has a photo of Jane giving a smile that looks less than genuine – that could really hurt her. I’m serious. I don’t know why the mailer was given the green light, but that photo makes Jane, sadly, look like the Joker. If Jane wins, it will not be because of the mailer, but because, overall, she’s been a better on-the-ground operator. Trouble is, there are two Oakland Councilmembers actively completing against her and for Parker: Libby Schaaf and Pat Kernighan. Trouble is, neither has been that active of late, after hosting fund-raisers earlier. In this funky era of communication, such a lapse could make all the difference.

My Video Take

I pretty much stand by what I said in the video about, even though it was made three months ago. While Amy Lemly has been the far and away District One front runner, Richard Reyas does have an “it” quality – why that has not translated better is beyond me, but the election can produce a surprise. Don Macleay is still my first choice, but I’m disappointed in his rather lax way of campaigning. Even with his business disputes, Mario Juarez is still my choice for District Five – especially when you look at the people who’ve pointed fingers at him. I’m not sold on Oakland School Board Member Noel Gallo as a councilmember. There are some who think he should be elevated just because he was on the school board. Uh, really? Mario has worked hard for his area, and this is his second run for Oakland City Council – he’s ready.

The OPOA Issue

Some noise has been made about the Oakland Police Officers Associations‘ seemingly rouge behavior. Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express has taken aim at the OPOA for failing…

…to file campaign disclosure reports with the city, detailing exactly how much it has spent trying to defeat Kaplan and Parker and replace them with Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner, respectively. The Oakland City Clerk’s Office said Wednesday that it has sent letters and made phone calls to OPOA informing the union that the law mandates that it must disclose it campaign activities, but that the union has nonetheless failed to do so…The police union has funded at least two hit-piece mailers, targeting Kaplan and Parker. As the Express previously reported, the glossy mailers included numerous false and misleading claims about Kaplan and Parker and grossly distorted their records in office. According to declarations on the two mailers, they cost at least $34,800 to produce…The police union also sent out at least one attack mailer against Mario Juarez, a candidate for city council District 5, Fruitvale-Glenview. Under California and Oakland law, groups must immediately disclose how much they are spending in support of or in opposition to candidates prior to an election.

Note, this is the Oakland Police Union thumbing its nose at the City of Oakland – the folks who write the cops’ checks. Will this have an impact on the election? Given the unfortunate fact that OPD’s not popular in Oakland, that could actually work for, and not against, the candidates the OPOA doesn’t support. This is going to be fun to watch play out.

Larry Reid Should Take District Seven

Larry Reid’s the long time Oakland District Seven Councilmember and friend to not just this blogger, but many. Larry’s reached the point where he can walk around the district and point to his accomplishments. Sheryl Walton put up a great fight, but Larry’s now the Council President for nothing.

Rule: In Oakland, Female Campaigners Beat Male Most Of The Time

Here’s a rule in Oakland Politics: women beat men most of the time. If you think about the races in Oakland where there have been evenly matched male and female candidates, the woman won. That was true for the Mayor’s race, where Jean Quan beat Don Perata with a ton of second choice votes – and Kaplan was next in line. In District Two, Councilmember Kernighan’s challenger was another woman, Jennifer Pei. District Five has no female running. District One has Jane Brunner, who’s beat back a number of male challengers, and Amy Lemly’s the front runner. Thus, I can see Lemly taking District One, Kaplan winning At Large, and District Three being a close race – Sean had better watch out for either Lynette or Nyesha on election day. The last time he ran, Nancy Nadel beat him – yes she was the incumbent, but she was also the lone woman. District Three, for that reason, is hard to call.

Stay tuned.