Friday, May 19, 2006

Dellums for Mayor

May 6/May 20

The Oakland mayoral race is approaching its Tuesday, June 6 finale soon. With just under 3 weeks to go, politically it looks like Ignacio De La Fuente, currently Vice Mayor, City of Oakland, and former Congressman, and native Oaklander, Ron Dellums are the two candidates with the best chance at winning, De La Fuente ahead, not because Dellums is the lesser man for the job, rather it's because De La Fuente has a stronger and more visible presence.

As I drive to work in San Antonio District, past Laney College, I don't see any Dellums' posters anywhere, yet I see De La Fuente everywhere. I also see plenty for Aimee Allison, Gulf War Conscientious Objector, a sister running for City Council, Second District, which is good. This is De La Fuente's stumping ground; perhaps she might upset the race. Visit

Whether people acknowledge it or not, De La Fuente is a presence in Oakland, whether that is his interest in the Raiders and corporate deals to support big business expansion, or his interest in public education and support for programs like the African Roots of Jazz, an organization in schools in Fruitvale and San Antonio which offers kids alternative strategies to gang violence and delinquency, strategies which promote wellness, peace, pride and dignity.

Dellums, on the other hand, is a folk hero in Oakland, the celebrity son returning home. He has an historic presence, unmatched by any. His run for office was at the request of his constituency, residents tired of 8 years of Brown, people who know De La Fuente will be more of the same. Nancy Nadel could have been perhaps a breath of fresh air if her tenure on Oakland's City Council had been a bit more forceful. Perhaps if the strong mayor policy had passed, extending its madate past Brown's tenure then she might have had more clout. As it is, she has a strong local constitueny, Dellums might lack, as a new man around town to some. At the debate, Nadel and Dellums agreed quite a bit. It's too bad there isn't a way both can win, like in presidental campaigns.

At the debate at Holy Names University last month, Nadel mentioned several occasions where she'd introduced policies for housing, environment, etc., which were not passed. What passed was her bill for more police, something De La Fuente is strong on too, law enforcement.

Dellums, to his credit, didn't fall into the trap of penalizing the poor for their poverty whether that was economic, educational or spiritual. Dellums is a quiet campaign, when the squeaky wheel often gets the votes, the visible candidate the person people remember when s/he goes to the polls. I saw no Dellums posters on the thoroughfare, 14th Street near the African American Museum and Library on either side of the 980 freeway -- not a one in any of the windows. Before I left out of the house on my way to AAMLO a few weeks ago now, I got a call from Dwayne Wiggins of "Tony Toni Toni." I thought he'd read my review of the Keyshia Cole concert, I was surprised when he endorsed John Russo for State Assembly when Sandre Swanson is also running and he's been endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and many other African Americans of stature.

What's in it for Wiggins?

(I had an opportunity to ask Wiggins this past Thursday evening at James Gayles' exhibition, Blues Masters at the gallery inside the Elihu Harris State Building Gallery, in Oakland. He said that he hadn't known Swanson, even though he'd known of him for years. Wiggins stated that Russo had helped with several projects he'd proposed and thus the endorsement. The telling statement though was: "No one approached me, or asked me," Wiggins said, and coming from a man who is 100 percent Oakland and for the people, I wonder why the oversight.)

Nonetheless, when do -- let me put it this way, since when do white people represent black concerns better than a person from the community like Swanson, a man with a verifiable and proven track record? The Laney College graduate, commencement speaker last year at his alma mater, a man who served as chief of staff for the Hon. Barbara Lee and worked with the Hon. Ron Dellums, has endorsements from both, spoke that morning about his commitment to the community which means "us."


No one has called me to ask me to vote for Dellums either, or De La Fuente or Nadel, for that matter. When I asked a colleague at the AAMLO book event on Jews in Exotic Places by the way, there is another event this weekend too, Saturday, May 20, with J. Othello: The Soul of Rock N Roll, who she was voting for, she said Nadel was her friend.... My response was "What does that have to do with anything?" At the debate at Holy Names University last month the candidates were cordial and though they numbered four, the fourth, Ron Oz, a former policeman, I'm not certain if the other two mattered. Sorry Nancy.

When I lived in West Oakland, I tried to get a house through the City's First Time Homebuyer's Program, ACORN, CWOR or other connections. I had after living a participatory life in District 3, for 13 years, erroneously assumed my volunteerism would grant me audience with someone who could give me tangible assistance when I was in a crisis....

I was forced out of my affordable housing because my income increased $100 over the limit. I was evicted along with many other professionals who were also living there. Some of the elder residents were so traumatized they got sick and died. Families were split up, relatives who were also caretakers, if college aged, were forced to move out.

Yes, I am still sore and I am still renting five years later.

I believe Dellums could make a difference, but at the rate his campaign is going, I wonder if enough voters knows it. I thought there was something happening at de Fremery Park this weekend, Saturday, May 20. I got a flier with upcoming activities on it, but when I visited the Dellums' website for details earlier in the week; it wasn't there, though its there now, plus a lot more.

I hope for Oakland's sake the brother starts making some noise!

Barbara Lee, our courageous Congresswoman arrested this week in Sudan for protesting the genocide in Dafur, has launched One Voice, an initiative whose goal is simple: to identify and support progressive Democratic leaders to take office at the federal level. Through identifying viable Democratic candidates and supporting them in the primaries, One Voice increases the number of progressive candidates on democratic tickets around the county. One Voice makes it possible for progressive leaders to act on the basis of conscience not in response to the financial demands of an election campaign. Visit

Although I think sensible people need to organize an independent party and support those candidates who reflect the needs of a constituency which supports the ideals of democracy and freedom, and have personal integrity, no matter what the party affiliation, so far those politicians on the left are still playing the Democrat/Republican game.


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