Councilmember Henry Chang annouced that after 14 years of serving in the Council's "At Large" position, he's stepping down and not seeking reelection. I personally will miss Henry Chang as councilmember, because he never acted like the public should bow down and worship him in any way. He was always nice, and not just to me, but to everyone. It's rare that one hears a bad word about Henry Chang. He will be missed.
Here's The Montclarion's account and their look at the 2008 Oakland City Council elections:
By Kelly Rayburn STAFF WRITER - The Montclarion
The field of candidates for Oakland's June 3 City Council elections includes business owners, community activists, members of the school board and the man known to many as the North Oakland vigilante. It does not include long-time councilmember Henry Chang Jr. Chang made an 11th-hour decision against running for re-election nearly 14 years after he was appointed to the council to fill the vacancy left when Frank Ogawa died. "I just feel that 14 years is long enough for me,'' Chang said. "There's other things I want to do.'' The June 3 election will be the most crowded in years, and the politicking for the five council seats up for grabs has already begun. Candidates are nearly unanimous in saying the solving Oakland's crime problems will be the central issue this election season. Chang's decision against running leaves an open race for the only seat on council that represents the whole city. Running to replace him are Charles Pine, the co-founder of Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods; Rebecca Kaplan, an AC Transit board member; Clinton Killian, a Montclair resident and attorney; Kerry Hamill, a school board member and former Don Perata chief of staff; and Frank Rose, a community volunteer and one-time aide to Chang. Killian said he's running to seek change. "We're a city full of promise and hope," he said. "And it's a city that has problems that haven't been addressed by the current political Advertisement
leadership." He said the critical issues in this campaign are: crime and safety; rebuilding neighborhoods; creating jobs; and helping the school district. "The debate has to go beyond just hiring more police," Killian said, noting that the city froze police hiring in 2004. "We have to do things that prevent crime. We have to create alternatives to crime." Killian specifically called for greater efforts at rehabilitation. Killian criticized Oakland Unified School District trustees for "abdicating" their responsibility to run the local school system without demanding accountability from the state-appointed administrator. Hamill is hoping her experience on the school board will help persuade voters she's ready for the City Council. "I think my years as a school board member and working in the area of youth development especially is a good background for dealing with issues related to safety and crime," she said. Rose said he decided to run after learning that his former boss was bowing out. "I said, 'Oh, my goodness, I cannot stand by and watch people run for this office who are not knowledgeable about what this office takes.'" City Attorney John Russo is resting easy. He'll run unopposed for the only other city office up for election. The crowded council field is a marked change from recent elections. In 2006, seven candidates ran for three seats. In 2004, nine ran for five. Councilmembers Jane Brunner, Nancy Nadel, and Council President Ignacio De La Fuente all ran unopposed in 2004. Not this time. Patrick McCullough, an attorney and an electrician technician hoping to unseat Brunner, said the fact that so many people are running reflects a hope for substantial change in the way Oakland is governed. "People are disappointed,'' he said. "They've heard the same stories from many of the same people ... they want change. They want improvement and they don't see it coming from the people in office.'' McCullough made headlines in 2005 when he shot and wounded a teenager who confronted him in his front yard. Criminal charges were not filed and McCullough said the act was in defense of his life. He says the "vigilante'' tag is inaccurate. Both McCullough and Brunner say public safety is the top issue. Whereas McCullough says city officials have not done enough, Brunner says the city is moving in the right direction. She said the Police Department's new geographic-based command structure makes it easier to spot and react to crime trends, though she is still adamant that Police Chief Wayne Tucker develop and release a new strategic plan to lower crime in the near- and long-term future. Asked her thoughts on why more candidates have jumped in than in past elections, she said, "It may be because there's a presidential election happening and people believe it's time to have a good debate in Oakland about serious issues. I think it's healthy to have more people running.'' Chang, meantime, said he's looking forward to completing his last year in city politics. He initially made his mind up against running, he said, but temporarily reconsidered after people in the Chinese-American and business communities prodded him. In the end, he spoke with his wife and close friends, he said, and decided he could only run on his own terms. He's already got an idea what to do once he's off council. "I've seen probably three quarters of the world,'' he said. "I want to see the other quarter.''