Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alameda Labor Council, Local Candidate Questionnaire 2010

Now let's see how the interview goes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Black Women Organized for Political Action Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

BWOPA City of Oakland
Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire
Please fax back by Monday, July 5th to 510.225.3823, or email

1. Describe your platform:

Schools up, crime down.

I think the city should support the schools without interfering with the work of the school board. We can do this by making more dual use of school, park and city property and by getting involved in youth activities, after school programs and truancy abatement. The city can also help with volunteer support of our schools. There is also a parallel value of having a mayor who makes our schools a preoccupation. It shines light on the issues and makes it clear to state and county officials that this is what our city needs first.

I think the crime / public safety issue is the most important challenge that Oakland faces. We have a historical problem, typical of urban areas like ours. Public safety is the most developed part of my program. I propose a commitment to the standard 3 parts of public safety:
Prevention, Restoration and Enforcement.

In no way am I in agreement with crippling the rest of Oakland City government to work on schools and crime. I am also opposed to actions like cross the board budget cuts, which are blind and only sound fair, but in reality hurt some much more than others. Our budget issues require a longer term fix and may require that we take some more aggressive actions. We will also have to take a hard look at our relationship with the redevelopment committee, the state and the county negotiating changes where needed.

What our budget needs more than anything else is public support.
My general approach is to:

Take the advice of INFORMED opinion and existing research.
Look at the structural issues and propose reform.
Promote a government of checks and balances.
Act as the collective constituent service or ombudsman.

2. Why are you running for this particular seat?

The Mayor’s office is a place where good things should happen for people in our community. The job of mayor involves having a vision for what is possible. It means convening and listening to visionaries in our own community, and harnessing their talent. It means supporting and empowering people in our community to create enduring solutions to problems, and together seeking positive opportunities for the future.

3. How do you differentiate yourself from the incumbent/or other candidates? Explain what you bring to this seat that the incumbent/other candidates do not?

I have a very different background than most of our official political class.
It includes much more grass roots political activity, much more overseas exposure and working class and small business experience.

My background is as a labor organizer and local community activist. The first thing I ever did politically was factory floor organizing. I was also involved in the international solidarity movement with Latin America during the height of US intervention in that part of the world. For 5 years I worked in Nicaragua, much of it in a small scale hydro electric project. I have also been a long time environmentalist working in both grass roots groups and in a well known non-profit foundation.

I was an industrial machinist for 19 years and an industrial worker for a few years before that. My industrial, manufacturing background goes deep. As an industrial working I have been exposed to the technology of many of the things we discuss in the public debate. That includes recycling and alternative energy. I know computer technology from manufacturing automation (CNC or robotics) to standard MS Windows networking. Following an industrial injury I have worked as a computer networking engineer. For the last ten or so years I have run a small business in Oakland with a few employees providing services to small offices.

In the last 10 years my local activism has included Small Business promotion here in Oakland with the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber and with Larry Reid’s office Small Business Symposium. I have also been a member of local NCPC’s, neighborhood watch etc. in my neighborhoods and I have been a constant volunteer in my sons’ schools. All the while I continue to be active in grass roots support of the environment and social justice. Some of this via non profits, some in the anti Iraq war movement and consistently in the Green Party.

On a personal note, both of my sons are born here in Oakland and are in public schools. (one in Oakland, the other in his mother’s district) I have purchased a building here where I live in an apartment and my business is on the ground floor. For the past 20 years Oakland has been my home and I have put down deep roots here.

On the list of other skills I have a strong knowledge of foreign languages. I speak Spanish very well; I speak fluent French too. I also can make myself understood in Italian and German. At Laney and SFSU I studied Mandarin Chinese which I speak and read haltingly. I have lived many years outside the USA and have firsthand knowledge of a lot of the things people here speculate about, such as nation health or transit.

I seriously believe that all the of the above skills and experiences are not common among our political regulars.

I am not a lawyer, not a career politician and am not “connected” to the inside circles. I do not think the personal differences between us are as important as policy differences. But I do think our Mayors and Council members seem to come from a narrow background when it comes to industrial skills, business experience and foreign language. So I think it would be good to have more some skill diversity.

4. Please list your major endorsers’ to-date?

I have been endorsed by the Oakland and the Alameda Green Party.

5. How much money do you estimate that it will take you to run a credible race? How much money have you raised to-date?

We have intentionally not raised any money before 2010 and have not raised much before July 1st to make our FPPC reporting simple.
This summer and fall we plan to raise about ten thousand dollars.
We will not accept corporate funds as a matter of principal.

6. Do you have a full time job? What is your time commitment to the campaign?

Yes, I own a small business that requires my active involvement every week. Being self employed gives me some extra time and a lot of flexibility, but I cannot neglect my company. My time for the campaign is limited and I depend on my supporters to keep our message out there much of the time.

7. Will you have a campaign manager, a campaign consultant or both – if so please tell us who is your campaign consultant and/or manager?

We have a campaign committee that acts as a campaign manger would act. It is broken up into sub committees. We also have a group of advisors. We do not have a campaign consultant of the normal type.

8. Why are you seeking BWOPA’s endorsement?

Because I was asked to do so by Aisha Brown, who I have had contact with for years and have a lot of respect for.

9. How do your goals and objectives fit in with our organization’s mission?

Your FaceBook page describes your group goals as: BWOPA's purpose is to activate, motivate, promote, support, and educate African-American women about the political process, encourage involvement, and to affirm our commitment to, and solving of, those problems affecting the African-American community.

I encourage the involvement of all peoples and dialog with all parts of our community. In BWOPA I also see a set of preoccupations that would fall under the banner of “progressive”. As you can see from what I wrote here, I am very much a progressive and very committed to grass roots involvement in the political process.

10. Considering these challenging economic times, tell us your vision for economic revitalization and job creation, specifically for residents of Oakland.

What Oakland needs is jobs, that we all agree on.
We also need them for our own residents.
And we need them to be well paid, have benefits and be stable.

Oakland has a lot of youth unemployment, but it also has a varied economy. In a way we have a “diversified portfolio” in our public and private sector. We have a high percentage of residents who work for some level over government or another. Another, larger than average, group works in the non-profit sector. We have a very diverse service sector when it comes to housing and auto. Oakland fixes homes, gardens and cars. Everyone talks about the new restaurant sector; we also have a sizable old restaurant sector and quite a constellation of retail.

First and foremost I want to support the employment sectors we already have. We can grow it a few percentage points and do a world of good in local jobs, taxes and land values. We can do this many ways. Public safety is an economic concern, no doubt. A commitment to vocational education in the areas where Oakland residents currently work would be a big help at attracting more of the same kind of business and retention of existing firms.
Other things we could do to support our existing local activity include making navigating the city services more realistic. Actions like setting up the business portal are a good start and this kind of effort could use more support. Some of the fees and fines discourage people from even trying to set up in Oakland. That could be changed quickly.

The city can also do old fashioned blight control, one building at a time. We can make use of existing laws and the power of eminent domain to put boarded up buildings back into the active, available economy.

What we need mostly in larger development is the kind of infrastructure that helps ALL residents and all businesses. There is still much to do on transit and much more to do in public spaces.

When it comes to making a space for new larger employers I feel that we can do a lot, but we have to stop paying people for it. This falls under the Redevelopment Committee and CEDA, but a Mayor should chime in.

I am not a big fan of big projects that spend lots of public money with a named developer, but no named clients. I would also like to look at a lot of those contracts to see what exactly Oakland gets out of big CEDA projects. Paying outside firms to bring in outside workers in to create real estate property that will not belong to the city needs some real scrutiny.

Often City Council talks of development in the light of the kind of activities that the city can tax and use to raise revenue. This seems like a bad measurement to me. If there are things we can to encourage more employment in Oakland we should consider it and not only view it in the light of sales and business taxes.

Overall I think of the city’s role in local economy is similar to raised bed gardening. The city has to set the rules, it decides what can go in and where, and once a healthy fertile space is made, let things grow.

Donald L Macleay 510 866-7488 Monday, July 05, 2010