By Jon Brooks, Cy Musiker and Bay City News
Oakland's mayoral race is underway after a crowded debate Thursday night. About 400 people packed Temple Sinai to watch incumbent Mayor Jean Quan and eight challengers discuss an issue much on the mind of many residents: public safety.
Quan is running for re-election despite an administration marked by high crime rates, multiple staff defections and what is considered to be a botched response to the 2011 Occupy Oakland protests. A recent poll found Quan's approval rating is just 24 percent, with 66 percent disapproving. Despite the mayor's recent trumpeting of a decrease in crime and her other accomplishments, her poll numbers haven't budged much since a survey conducted last year.
The candidates running against Quan include:
- Patrick McCullough, hailed as a hero by some after shooting a teen he claimed had been part of a group harassing him at his home after he campaigned against drug dealers in the neighborhood.
- Bryan Parker, a Port of Oakland commissioner and technology executive, who made headlines earlier this year when he led the announced candidates in fundraising at the end of 2013.
- Courtney Ruby is the Oakland city auditor. Ruby has been the auditor since 2007 and won a second four-year term in 2010. Last year, Ruby issued a highly critical report on council members Larry Reid and Desley Brooks, alleging, among other things, they had interfered with the bidding process for redevelopment plans at the former Oakland Army Base.
- Libby Schaaf is is an Oakland City Councilwoman running for mayor after representing District 4, which includes much of the Oakland hills, since 2011. An outspoken public safety advocate, Schaaf recently introduced legislation in the City Council to crack down on aggressive driving in order to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Nancy Sidebotham was appointed by former Mayor Ron Dellums to the Community Policing Advisory Board between 2009 and 2012.
- Dan Siegel, a civil rights attorney and former legal advisor to Quan, is running on a platform of increasing the minimum wage and improving education and city infrastructure. Siegel quit his job with the administration in 2011 after disagreeing with the mayor's response to Occupy Oakland.
- Joe Tuman, who came in fourth in the mayor's race in 2010, is a longtime professor at San Francisco State University, where he currently chairs the communications department.
Last night, Tuman seemed to capture the mood in the city when he said, "You’ll know it’s safe when you don’t have to have public forums on public safety.”