Oakland 2022 election season kicks off, ahead of regular schedule
Oakland’s 2022 campaign season starts unusually early this year.
The deadline for submitting candidates to participate in the races for mayor of Oakland and city council is still months away and new district maps affecting council seats will not be finalized until the end of the year. But several candidates have already said they are running for mayor and are looking for influential supporters.
“This is a real radical election, a changing of the guard,” said Jim Ross, political consultant based in Oakland. “The whole end of an era is coming to Oakland.”
Now is the time for The Oaklandside to kick off our 2022 election coverage. Today we’ll take a look at who runs for mayor, the domino effect the mayoral race has on city council, and more. County races important to the people of Oakland. With elected officials called into retirement or retirement, or facing opposition for the first time, it will certainly be a long and fascinating race.
We hope you will join us along the campaign trail.
Longtime political observers cannot recall an earlier mayoral race start. Behind the scenes, the major union approval meetings began in September, with the participation of several past and present board members. This can be an indicator of how high the stakes are this time around.
The early start of campaigns could also be due to more people choosing to vote by post and the election actually starting a month earlier than previous elections, from the time the ballots are mailed out.
But there’s an obvious reason for the buzz of activity: The mayor’s seat is wide open for the first time since 2010, the last time a sitting mayor was not running for re-election.
Mayor Libby Schaaf, who took office after toppling Jean Quan in 2014, is called no.
And already, council members Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao have decided to give up running for council seats in an attempt to become mayor.
They are part of a growing list of suitors. Derrick Soo, a homeless activist from East Oakland, and Allyssa Victory, an attorney for Communications Workers of America Local 9415, have each announced their intention to run in next year’s election.
Gregory Hodge, former school counselor and member of the Brotherhood of Elders Network, also tabled the first campaign documents; Stephen D. Schear, lawyer; and Derreck Johnson, a restaurant founder, who challenged Rebecca Kaplan for the general council seat in 2020 (Kaplan backs Thao, indicating she will not be running for mayor).
District 7 council member Treva Reid reports that she will be participating in the race. Reid, who represents Deep East Oakland, has participated in union support talks and quietly built a “Reid for Oakland” campaign website. She also filed initial documents to set up a campaign committee, but has not officially made an announcement.
Former Oakland City Council chairman Ignacio De La Fuente, who left city council in 2012 after 20 years, is also said to be a candidate. De La Fuente claimed he would challenge Schaaf in 2018, but never filed any documents. Reached by phone, De La Fuente said he was “90%” this time.
Ross, the political consultant, said that the fact that Thao has already gained approval from major labor organizations “slows the way for other candidates” because the main sources of money and volunteers come from work.
Oakland Fire Union, Alameda Labor Council, SEIU Local 1021, Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food Workers Local 5 and trade and unions representing carpenters, plumbers and steam fitters, and electrical, sheet metal and iron workers have all pledged to support Thao.
“I don’t remember a candidate for mayor for a vacant seat in a big city in California who brings workers together. Newsom did not. Liccardo did not. Libby didn’t. London did not. None of the current mayors of Northern California have done so, and neither has any of their predecessors. His union of workers and the labor council is truly a significant achievement, ”said Ross, whose clients include labor organizations in East Bay.
City council elections will be shaped by the mayor’s race
The mayoral race will have an impact on the election of the city council. In 2022, the people of Oakland will vote to elect representatives for District 2 (Lake Merritt, Chinatown, San Antonio), District 4 (Montclair, Dimond, Laurel) and District 6 (Millsmont, Seminary, Coliseum).
Nikki Fortunado Bas, the current board chair, has announced that she is running for a new term as District 2 board member.
The seats in Districts 4 and 6 are open, as Thao and Taylor are running for mayor.
The seat of the District Council 4 was a stepping stone to the post of mayor. Quan and Schaaf both represented the district before successfully running for mayor.
So far, only one candidate to take the Thao D4 seat has emerged: Janani Ramachandran, a social justice lawyer who recently lost a run-off to Mia Bonta for the 18th District Assembly seat.
Political observers expect more candidates to race for the D4 seat, including someone backed by Schaaf.
Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, has applied for District 6. Other residents of the district are expected to join, and the names of potential candidates swirling around town are the District Administrator of Peralta Community. College Kevin Jenkins and Pamela Ferran, an aide to Council Member Taylor.
New district attorney, new county supervisor and challengers running for sheriff
At the county level, the seats of the district attorney and sheriff are re-eligible.
DA Nancy O’Malley has decided not to run, leaving the position open to, at present, three candidates: county attorneys Terry Wiley and Jimmie Wilson, and civil rights lawyer Pamela Price. Price ran unsuccessfully against O’Malley in 2018, but won the majority of ridings in Berkeley and Oakland.
Sheriff Greg Ahern is running for a new term and will face opponents for the first time including Alameda County Sheriff’s Commander Yesenia Sanchez and San Francisco Police Department veteran JoAnn Walker.
The Oaklanders will also have their say in the District 3 Supervisory Board race. Tragically, the seat representing Alameda, San Leandro and parts of Oakland is open, following the sudden death of Supervisor Wilma Chan. Chan was struck by a motorist on November 3 while walking her dog and later died in hospital. The supervisory board appointed its longtime assistant Dave Brown as an interim replacement this month.
Brown, a new resident of District 3, cannot run for Chan’s seat in the primary elections because, by law, candidates must have lived in the district for one year to qualify. Unlike the Oakland election, the county holds primary elections in June. If no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, the top two candidates face a runoff in November.