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Oakland City Council District Two - Aimee Allison and Pat Kernighan - A Campaign Race In Black and White

Contrasting Styles In District Two

Aside from all of the complaining and the Oakland Tribune article below which reports some overzealous behavior by Aimee Allison supporters she has no control over, one aspect of this heated race has been almost deliberately ignored: it's a race of black versus white.

This fact is not lost on me when I walk by Pat Kernighan's headquarters and see all of the faces, by far white, some Asian, and I've not seen anyone black to date. By contrast, Aimee Allison's supporters are far more represented by people of color.

It doens't say much that's good that Councilmember Kernighan has so little support amoung people of color compared to Aimee. But the simple reason for this is Pat doesn't reach out to anyone who is of color. I'm not talking about going to the NAACP office and begging for black friends, but just plain establishing and maintainng friends of color in Oakland. There's no trick to this.

Instead, what we get is an obviously polarized race that's really about class and color. One of Pat's supporters hangs out at Easy -- that place where the guy with an obvious race problem was and I don't go to. (Hey, the owner appologized, but as I've said before, it's the clientele that concerns me. )

But even beyond that, I can't remember a race that wasn't for Mayor of Oakland that pitted two people, one black, the other white, and so very different. One kudos I consistently give to Councilmember Nancy Nadel is that she's got a diverse base of support and certainly a lot of black friends. I may disagree with her on issues, but I do like that fact about her. If she were running in District Two, the campaign would not be so ugly.

The bottom line is that if Pat had more friends of color, this race would not be so totally filled with contrasts. I like both Aimee and Pat, but personally feel Aimiee's a breath of freah air the district and Oakland really needs.

This is not because Aimee's black, but it's her personality and zeal. Pat's good, but just... Different. She -- by personality and focus -- meets the comfort level of the middle-aged, middle class (thank God they still exist) and mostly White part of population in the District. I personally think she can cast her net wider -- as John Russo has done -- but for reasons that sit in the back of her head, this has not happened.

Electon Day will certainly be interesting, that's for sure.

Allison supporters' mailer sparks fury

Candidate 'distressed' over negative tactics; Kernighan calls opponent a hypocrite
By Heather MacDonald, STAFF WRITER - OAKLAND Tribune

Article Last Updated:11/02/2006 03:58:05 AM PST

OAKLAND — With less than a week before voters go to the polls, the race for the Grand Lake-Chinatown seat on the Oakland City Council has just gotten nastier.
Financed by San Francisco-based supporters of challenger Aimee Allison, a glossy flier that began arriving in mailboxes over the weekend blames Councilmember Patricia Kernighan for the homicide rate in Oakland, complete with a picture of a body-shaped chalk outline.
Blasting what it calls Kernighan's "failed record on crime," the mailer says the council member "failed to protect our families."
Kernighan, who has objected to the redeployment of community police officers and lobbied the department to assign walking officers to the district's commercial areas, said the mailer's charges are unfair and "completely over the top."
"I think most people will be able to see through it," Kernighan said, suggesting it may spark a backlash against Allison.
Allison said she would have stopped the flier from being mailed had she known anything about it, adding she does not engage in negative campaigning.
"I'm very distressed about it," said Allison, who has pledged to address the root causes of violence, including poverty and unemployment, if elected Tuesday.
Paid for by Oaklanders for New Leadership, a group formed Oct. 25, the mailer paints a misleading picture of Oakland's crime rate, saying homicides have risen by 300 percent, rapes by 21 percent and assaults by 70 percent. According

to police department statistics, murders are up 75 percent, rape is up 10 percent and aggravated assaults have increased 32 percent as compared with this time last year.
According to reports filed with the Oakland City Clerk's office, Oaklanders for New Leadership has received only two contributions: $35,000 from M. Quinn Delaney, chairwoman of the American Civil Liberties Union board of directors, and $1,400 fromthe United Food and Commercial Workers.
While Delaney did not return a phone message Wednesday afternoon, Steve Phillips, a member of the group, said the mailer merely educated voters about the facts of Kernighan's record.
Phillips, a former member of the San Francisco school board, spent $11,100 to send voters a separate mailer, this one touting Allison's crime plan with a smiling picture of the candidate in front of Lake Merritt.
Phillips and Allison were student activists together at Stanford University. Phillips said he supports Allison because of her commitment to social justice and Mayor-elect Ron Dellums' plan to make Oakland a model city.
Allison said she was shocked by Phillips' involvement in the campaign, adding she was not in contact with him.
A spokeswoman for Dellums said he had endorsed neither Allison nor Kernighan and was not pleased that the most recent mailing from the Allison campaign features his picture, implying an endorsement.
"We did not authorize that," said Deborah Campbell Ford, emphasizing Dellums' loathing of negative campaigning.
Oaklanders for New Leadership also spent $1,400 on an advertisement in the Oakland Tribune and $2,050 to print campaign materials to be handed out during door-to-door campaigning for Allison.
Another newly formed group, Chinatown Votes!, funded by Unite Here, a union representing restaurant, hotel and casino workers, spent $5,700 to pay eight people to staff phone banks and walk precincts on behalf of Allison.
None of those expenditures would have been allowed by Oakland's campaign finance laws before OakPAC, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce's political arm, successfully sued the city to lift restrictions on how much groups can spend to support or oppose candidates.
Under the rules suspended by the federal judge, committees, such as Oaklanders for New Leadership, were only allowed to spend $100 of each contribution to independently support or oppose a candidate. Because it is a broad-based political committee, OakPAC was limited to $300 per contribution.
Oaklanders for New Leadership formed as a response to OakPAC's lawsuit to ensure that Allison's views are not lost under a blizzard of mail and other campaign materials, Phillips said.
OakPAC has spent $26,000 on two mailers to tout Kernighan. A week ago, at the request of Dellums, OakPAC chairman Michael Colbruno agreed to cancel plans to spend an additional $32,000 on campaign mailings, door hangers and automated phone calls.
In all, independent groups have spent $31,100 to support Allison's campaign, after she vehemently denounced OakPAC's plans to support her opponent's campaign.
Kernighan called Allison a hypocrite.
Ben Wyskida, a spokesman for the Allison campaign, said Kernighan's supporters opened the door to the unlimited spending.
"Obviously, the progressive community sees this as a critical opportunity to end the De la Fuente-Kernighan-OakPAC era on City Council and make some real change," Wyskida said.
Colbruno said Allison and her supporters had "gravely insulted the new mayor" and breached the agreement he reached in good faith with Dellums.
"The people who accused us of trying to buy the election are actively organizing to do just that," Colbruno said.
Phillips said he is unaware of the details of the agreement between OakPAC and Dellums.
Colbruno, a planning commissioner, said he is weighing whether to reinstate plans to spend additional money on behalf of Kernighan in light of the actions of Allison's supporters.
"They reopened the door — and now have no right to criticize us," Colbruno said.
Campbell Ford said Dellums had hoped that all independent expenditure committees, such as Oaklanders for New Leadership, would honor the agreement Dellums made with OakPAC.
"The community will have to decide whether they want to support a candidate who is associated with violating the spirit of the agreement," Campbell Ford said. "The mailer sends a bad message and is in bad faith."
E-mail Heather MacDonald at hmacdonald@oaklandtribune.com
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