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Tribune Article Points To Racial Divisions In Oakland Voting

Well, I could have told you this. To me the election revealed just how backward Oakland can be at times.

Oakland voters show division
By Paul T. Rosynsky and Momo Chang, STAFF WRITERS

OAKLAND — A smiling Jeffrey Miller walked briskly, sample ballot in hand, to the front door of his precinct at the Redwood Heights Community Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Miller, 54, said he is excited to finally vote in a mayoral contest that has at least three qualified candidates on the ballot.
"I have great respect for (Ron) Dellums, but he has been away for a while," Miller said. "De La Fuente has been more involved and, I think, can get things done."

Although Miller chose De La Fuente, his thoughts on one of the closest mayoral contests in recent history illustrated how many of the voters interviewed Tuesday were divided among De La Fuente, Dellums and Nancy Nadel.

Although split, the voters made their choice with conviction.

"I just can't stand De La Fuente, he's obnoxious," said Mildred Riggs, a longtime Oakland resident. "We know what Dellums has done, we know that he did a good job."

While candidates spent the last several months explaining their platforms, it usually came down to who voters believed could get the job done.

Those siding with Dellums talked of his years in Congress and his ability to negotiate complicated deals as a reason he would move Oakland forward.

"Dellums brings a lot to the table, he has infinite wisdom," said Abdul Galis, 55. "He has the political and business acumen. He has the vision to help Oakland get to the next level and the ability to deliver on that vision."

Those choosing De La Fuente talked of his experience at City Hall as the deciding factor in their vote. Many said they decided against Dellums because his vision seemed too broad and difficult to accomplish.

"Dellums is a great man, he is great at rhetoric," said Ken Murakoshi, 54. "But Oakland doesn't need rhetoric, it needs action."

Although the street survey was limited and unscientific, some general trends emerged. African Americans tended to side more with Dellums, Latinos and whites more with De La Fuente.

And those who approved of Mayor Jerry Brown's administration generally favored De La Fuente, while those who did not tended to supported Dellums.

In Oakland, the choice for governor and state attorney general was not as tough. For governor, Oakland seemed to be Phil Angelides country. And for state attorney general, it was Jerry Brown — the city's current mayor — all the way.

Like several people, Pablo Manga, a 33-year-old attorney, said he voted to make Brown the state's next attorney general because he likes his track record.

"I think he did well in his past offices and can be counted on to continue to serve the public well," he said.

Jim Nichols, 42, said he likes that Brown cares about local and state politics despite his national presence.

"He gets a lot done," Nichols said.

Others said they voted for Brown simply because of his name recognition — exactly why others said they voted against him.

Although Angelides seemed more popular in Oakland, neither he nor opponent Steve Westly stirred much passion, partly because of the political mudslinging.

"I would like to think that our elected officials are more than just products," said Elle Johnson, who voted for Angelides.
Staff writer Susan McDonough contributed to this report.
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