Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Candidate Info for Tonight's District 3 Debate

Candidates for Oakland District 3 Council Seat Debate at Z Cafe Tonight
For live updates, follow #oakdebates on Twitter, or follow the Chamber's live blog
After filing the papers indicating their intention to run earlier this month, the six leading candidates for Oakland’s District 3 City Council Seat will debate tonight in an open forum at Z Cafe, located on Broadway’s Auto Row.  The debate, produced by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee starts at 6:30pm and is free to attend. Doors open at 6pm, and questions will be solicited from the audience.

The boundaries of District 3 run roughly east to the far side of Lake Merritt, north to 580, south the Estuary and west into the San Francisco Bay. It includes the Port of Oakland, West Oakland, Jack London Square, Uptown, and portions of Downtown, Pill Hill and the lake.  The role of the Oakland City Council is to be an elected governing body representing the City of Oakland. There are seven council districts in Oakland, and one at-large member for a total of eight seats. If needed, the Mayor serves as the tie breaking vote.

Since 1998, Oakland has had a strong mayor form of government. The mayor is elected for a four-year term and council members serve staggered four-year terms. The mayor appoints a city administrator, subject to the confirmation by the City Council, who is the chief administrative officer of the city. This position is currently occupied by Deanna Santana. Other city officers include: city attorney (elected), city auditor (elected), and city clerk (appointed by city administrator).  Oakland's Mayor is subject to a tenure limited to two terms. There are no term limits for the city council members.

The job of council member for District 3 has been most recently held by Nancy Nadel, for nearly 16 full years (4 consecutive terms). Ms. Nadel is stepping down at this end of this term (Dec ember 2012) to concentrate on her newly established small business, the Oakland Chocolate Company, an endeavor that has been billed as an economic development project for Oakland as well as for cocoa farmers in Jamaica. Ms. Nadel stated that she originally ran for the position, “to bring a voice to underrepresented people at City Hall” and “has based [her] decisions and policies as a Councilmember on…the three E's of Sustainable Development…Economic Prosperity, Environmental Enhancement and Social Equity.” Most recently, Councilmember Nadel has chaired the Public Works Committee, and is a member of the Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA) committee. She has been a West Oakland resident for 30 years.   
Many political consultants consider this year unique for the Oakland City Council in that it will have at least three new council members after the November election, a turnover unseen for 16 years. The existing council is characterized as having “fractious dynamics” and even some seated council members themselves are excited for a chance to change the tone of the conversation. The council members leaving their posts in this election cycle - Jane Brunner (Dist 1), Nancy Nadel (Dist 3) and De La Fuente (Dist 5) - have been on the council for a combined total of 52 years (source: Kuruvila, 8/19/12, SF Gate).

Given that, this debate will perhaps be a glimpse of what is to come for the future council and will likely cover (but won’t be limited to) several critical issues concerning the Port of Oakland, the pending former Oakland Army Base development, environmental justice, and waterfront enhancement. What do you think are the biggest issues facing District 3 in the next four years? Please attend and submit a question for the candidates. Or let us know your comments by following the event on Twitter tonight @oaklandchamber and using the tag #oakdebates.

Candidate Backgrounds (Alphabetical by First Name)

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Mr. Miller-Cole immigrated to the US at the age of 17 and taught himself English.  Alex has worked as an executive assistant and later as the marketing director for a real estate agent in Northern California. Currently, Miller-Cole serves a Commissioner of the Oakland Community Policing Advisory Board, the Treasurer of West Oakland Green Initiative, and is the volunteer Steward for St. Andrew’s Plaza in District 3.

Derrick H. Muhammad is a life-long resident of Oakland who attended Skyline and Fremont High Schools. Mr. Muhammad has worked at the Port of Oakland as a longshoreman and has a JD from UC Davis School of Law. Currently, Derrick serves as a Commissioner on the Oakland Citizens Police Review Board and works for the California Congress of Seniors.

At 30, Mr. Young was the youngest of Oakland’s ten candidates for mayor in 2010. He is currently a realtor at the Mason-McDuffie Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Larry has also worked as a substitute teacher in the Oakland Unified School District, teaching all grade levels. Mr. Young has a degree in speech communication from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a MBA from the University of Phoenix.


Lynette Gibson McElhaney serves as the Executive Director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS). Under her leadership, NHS has co-developed 82 units as part of the City of Richmond's largest redevelopment effort, the HOPE VI redevelopment of East Hill projects. Ms. Gibson-McElhaney holds a degree from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked for Oakland Neighborhood Housing Services, the City of Oakland, the East Bay Delta Housing and Finance Agency. Since November of 2001, Lynette has served as the Executive Director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services.

Dr. Nyeisha DeWitt is a native Oaklander and an active member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, Oakland Unified School District’s Truancy Task Force, and the Effective Teachers for Oakland (ETO) Task Force.  Nyeisha received her BA in Sociology from the University of California-Berkeley and holds a Master’s degree in Teaching from the University of San Francisco.  Dr. DeWitt earned a PhD in education from USF’s Organization and Leadership program.

For the past decade, Mr. Sullivan has worked at Covenant House, a national agency serving homeless youth. Sean is a former board member of the Oakland Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and the founder and Co-Chair of the Dogtown Neighborhood Association in West Oakland. Mr. Sullivan serves as Board Chair of the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence and on the District 3 Community Development Block Grant Committee. He holds a BA from St. Bonaventure University, is certified in Non-Profit Management through AFP International at Stanford University, and has studied environmental science at Oxford University.


Chamber Support
The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (OMCC) public policy committee does not endorse political candidates, but there is a separate political action committee OakPAC that does.  For more information on OakPAC, please contact Paul Junge, OakPAC Executive Director at 

Full Debate Schedule
Tonight’s District 3 debate is the second of six debates in this series. The full schedule is posted below; all debates are FREE and begin at 6:30pm.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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