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Russo, Nadel, Brunner Endorsed By SF Bay Guardian

As we get closer to the weekend, we're going to have posts on who's endorsing whom. This one starts with the SF Bay Guardian, who took Nadel for District Three, and my good friend Oakland City Attorney John Russo, who's running unopposed, to name some of their choices.

I will refrain from insulting those who pick a certain candidate I may favor, unlike some other bloggers. Its your thang, but I've got mine.

Here's what the SF Bay Guardian wrote, in their own words:

Oakland Races

City Attorney


John Russo, who has made no secrets of his political ambition, failed in a bid to win the State Assembly seat for District 16 in 2006, and now he's running unopposed for reelection. Russo has voiced some pretty ridiculous sentiments: he told a magazine for landlords in May 2006 that he opposed all forms of rent control and was against laws requiring just cause for evictions. That's a horrible stand for a city attorney to take in a city with a huge population of renters. But Russo is smart and capable, and he's one of the few city attorneys who consistently supports sunshine laws. We'll endorse him for another term.

City Council, District 1


An attorney and former teacher, Jane Brunner spends a lot of time pushing for more cops; crime is the top issue in the North Oakland district she represents. And while we'd rather see anticrime approaches that go beyond hiring more officers, we appreciate that Brunner takes on the police department over its hiring failures. We also find her far more preferable on the issue than her opponent, Patrick McCullough, a longtime neighborhood activist who has become something of a celebrity since he shot a teenager who was hassling him in front of his house in 2005.

Brunner is one of the council's strongest affordable housing advocates and has worked tirelessly for an inclusionary housing law. She deserves reelection.

City Council, District 3


Nadel is hardworking, effective, a leader on progressive economic and planning issues, and one of the best members of the Oakland City Council. She asked the hard questions and demanded improvements in the giant Oak to Ninth project (although she wound up voting for it). She's pushing for better community policing and promoting community-based anticrime efforts, including a teen center in a part of her district where there have been several homicides. She was a principal architect of the West Oakland industrial zoning plan, which she hopes will attract new jobs to the community (although she also pissed off a few artists who fear they'll be evicted from living spaces that aren't up to code, and she needs to address the problem). We're happy to endorse her for another term.

City Council, District 5


Somebody has to try to oust Ignacio De La Fuente, and this time around, Juarez is the best bet. A small-businessperson (he runs a real-estate operation with around 60 employees), he has some surprisingly progressive positions: he not only supports inclusionary housing but told us that he wanted to see the percentage of affordable units increased from 15 to 25 percent. He wants to see community policing integrated fully into Oakland law enforcement. He suggested that Oakland look into putting a modest fee on all airport users to fund local education. And he's in favor of stronger eviction controls and tenant protections.

De La Fuente, the City Council president, has been the developers' best friend, has run meetings with a harsh hand, often cutting off debate and silencing community activists, and needs to be defeated. We know Juarez isn't perfect, but his progressive grassroots-based campaign was strong enough to get him the nod of both the Democratic Party and the Alameda County Greens. We'll endorse him, too.

City Council, District 7


Neither of the candidates in this race are terribly impressive, but incumbent Larry Reid has been so terrible on so many issues (supporting big-box development, inviting the Marines to do war games in Oakland, supporting condo conversions, etc.) that it's hard to imagine how Clifford Gilmore, director of the Oakland Coalition of Congregations, could be worse.

City Council, at large


Rebecca Kaplan is exactly what the Oakland City Council needs: an energetic progressive with the practical skills to get things done. As an AC Transit Board member, she pushed for free bus passes for low income youths — and defying all odds, managed to get all-night transit service from San Francisco to the East Bay. She did it by refusing to accept the conventional wisdom that transit agencies on the two sides of the bay would never cooperate. She put the key players together in a meeting, convinced the San Francisco supervisors to allow AC Transit buses to pick up passengers in the city late at night, and put through an effective program to get people across the bay after BART shuts down.

Kaplan is running for City Council on a progressive platform calling for affordable housing, rational development, and community policing. Her latest idea: since Oakland has so much trouble attracting quality candidates for vacancies in its police department, she suggests the city recruit gay and lesbian military veterans who were kicked out under the Pentagon's homophobic policies. Her proposed slogan: "Uncle Sam doesn't want you, but Oakland does."

Vote for Rebecca Kaplan.

School Board, District 1


The Oakland schools are still stuck under a state administrator; the district, which was driven by mismanagement into a financial crisis several years ago, paid the price of a state bailout by giving up its independence. The school board has only limited authority of district operations, though that's slowly changing. The state allowed the board to hire an interim superintendent, meaning issues like curricula and programs will be back under local control. So it's a time of transition for a district that has had horrible problems, and the board needs experienced, level-headed leadership.

We're impressed with Jody London, a parent with children in the public schools who runs a small environmental consulting firm. She has been active in the district, co-chairing the 2006 bond campaign that raised $435 million and serving on the bond oversight committee. She has a grasp of fiscal management, understands the challenges the district faces, and has the energy to take them on.

Her main opposition is Brian Rogers, a Republican who has the backing of outgoing state senator Don Perata and is a big fan of private charter schools. Tennessee Reed, a young writer and editor, is also in the race, and we're glad to see her getting active. But on balance, London is the clear choice.

School Board, District 3


Not a great choice here — we're not thrilled with either of the two contenders. Jumoke Hinton Hodge, a nonprofit consultant, is too willing to support charter schools. Oluwole, who works with parolees, has limited experience with education. But on the basis of his community background (he's on the board of the Oakland Community Organization) and our concern about Hodge and charter schools, we'll go with Oluwole.

School Board, District 5


Noel Gallo, the incumbent, is running unopposed. He's been a competent member of the board, and we see no reason not to support his reelection.

School Board, District 7


Alice Spearman, the incumbent, isn't the most inspiring member of the board — and she's known for making some ill-considered and impolitic statements. But her main opponent, Doris Limbrick, is the principal of a Christian school and has no business running for the board of a public school district. So we'll go with Spearman again.

Alameda County measures

Measure F

Utility users tax


Measure F extends and slightly increases the utility tax on unincorporated areas of the county. It's not the greatest tax, but it's not terrible — and it provides essential revenue to pay for services like law enforcement, libraries, and code enforcement. The parts of Alameda County outside any city boundary have been dwindling as cities expand, but the county provides the only local government services in those areas. And, like every other county in California, Alameda is desperately short of cash. So Measure F is crucial. Vote yes.

Oakland Measure J

Telephone-user tax


Measure J would update a 40-year-old tax on phone use that goes for local services. The tax law applies only to old-fashioned land lines, so cell phone users get away without paying. This isn't the world's most progressive tax, but Oakland needs the money and Measure J would more fairly share the burden. Vote yes.
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