Oakland Mayor's Race

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This Friday is the filing deadline for candidates running to be Oakland's next mayor. So far three major candidates have announced they are running: City Council member Jean Quan, former State Senator Don Perata and City Council member Rebecca Kaplan. Mayor Ron Dellums has said he will announce whether or not he's running for re-election on Friday.

Nobody expects Dellums to run again. Even some of his most ardent former supporters say they couldn't back him. His decision to wait until the deadline is just the latest in a bizarre tenure as mayor. Does he think the city is waiting in suspense for his pronouncement? That was the case in 2006, but the past four years have taken the air out of any enthusiasm for Dellums as Oakland's mayor.

It's been disappointing. But it's time to move on and look forward. Jean Quan has been a steady leader for nearly 20 years, including 12 years on the school board. She's got her eye on the bottom line and has a solid understanding of how the city works and what the neighborhoods need. Since she's been its representative, the Laurel District has stabilized and grown economically. She's been labeled the underdog in the race.

Don Perata is considered the frontrunner. He's got a formidable political and fundraising machine and huge name recognition. With years of experience, he could bring an ability to actually get things done that the city sorely needs. Some question whether he might be politically overexposed. He would be the third politician with a background on a larger stage, including Dellums and Jerry Brown, to aspire to lead Oakland.

Rebecca Kaplan is the freshest face. The first time she ran for the Council's at- large seat, she made an impressive showing, seeming to have come out of the blue. She eventually won the seat in 2008, becoming the first openly lesbian and youngest City Council member. Some think she's running for mayor prematurely, before finishing her first term on the Council.


Friday, we'll know whose hat is in the ring. I'm looking forward to the debate about how to secure Oakland's future. Depending on the outcome, Oaklanders may get a chance to see whether a woman would have a different approach to tackling the city's challenges.

With a Perspective, I'm Brenda Payton.