Mayoral Forum a Huge Success!
The Mayoral Forum on Public Safety Issues was a huge success last Thursday! The Lakeshore Baptist Church was filled, all the candidates except Don Perata participated, and those who attended were very appreciative of the opportunity to learn where the candidates stand on the critically important issue of public safety.
Aimee Allison, noted KPFA host of OaklandSeen, moderated the event and kept the candidates to their allotted time for responses, ensuring that the program ended on time and that several questions from the audience were included in the final portion.
This Forum was sponsored by PUEBLO, the NAACP, the Paul Robeson Chapter of the ACLU, the John George Democratic Club, Oakland's Next Leaders, the Wellstone Democratic Club, the Oakland Black Caucus and BWOPA (Black Women Organized for Political Action.) Each organization submitted one question for the candidates, and the topics ranged from gang injunctions to under age sexual exploitation, the number of police officers needed in Oakland and how to pay for them, why so many residents don't know how to file a complaint against the police, why more Oakland police officers don't live in Oakland, to whether civilian complaints against police should be handled by civilians rather than sworn police officers who are far more costly. On the last point, all of the candidates agreed that such a transfer was a 'no brainer' but stopped short of advocating a funding mechanism in a ballot initiative.
On some of the other topics, there was more disagreement. While some candidates insisted that it was more important to use police officers strategically in neighborhoods and 'hot spots' than it was to have a certain number of officers on the force, others were more insistent on a minimum number ranging from 1000 to 1200, although none offered a plan for how the City could afford to pay them.
By the end of the the Forum, it was clear that there was more that united the candidates present than divided them, but some seemed more focused on 'block by block' neighborhood empowerment than on fiscal and management restructuring. There is no doubt that those who attended are much better informed on the approach of each candidate than they were previously, given that all but Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan (both current City Council representatives) have been ignored by the mainstream press thus far. For more information about these lesser known candidates who participated, just Google Orlando Johnson,Terence Candell, Don Macleay, Greg Harland and Joe Tuman to find their campaign websites.