Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Debate Wrap Up: Candidates for At-Large Council seat

Candidates for At-Large Council seat face off

Nearly six months into the electoral process, four of the five candidates vying for the At-Large City Council seat squared off earlier this evening at the Kaiser Auditorium in downtown Oakland.

The debate, sponsored by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, was the fifth in a series of six debates to introduce the candidates for City Council and City Attorney positions who are running for office in the November election.

The At-Large face off, held in front of nearly 100 potential voters and business leaders, was moderated by Paul Junge, the Chamber’s Vice President and Director of Public Policy. The candidates were presented with a series of questions by a three-person panel – Dan Cohen, principal at Full Court Press; Barbara Leslie, director of external affairs at AT&T; and Jill Broadhurst, the director of community affairs and advocacy for the East Bay Rental Housing Association.

The five candidates vying for the At-Large City Council seat are Theresa Anderson-Downs, City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, At-Large incumbent Rebecca Kaplan, Mick Storm and Carol Lee Tolbert. Unfortunately, Storm was not able to attend. The candidates answered a myriad of questions regarding policy positions and shared meaningful exchanges regarding current and potential issues.

The Chamber debates for City Council seats continue to revolve around the issue of public safety, and so it was at the At-Large forum at Kaiser Auditorium. “This city will succeed when we get the jobs in and the guns out,” said Kaplan, the At-Large incumbent. “My basic principle is to stop the violence and get the illegal guns out of our city.” She also urged more research on Operation Cease Fire, which is being used by other cities to help curb violence.

De La Fuente said the police have to be provided the tools to do their jobs, with those tools including curfews and gang injunctions.

Each candidate spoke about his and her experience, which will stand them in good stead to fill the City Council post. De La Fuente has represented the Fruitvale District for many years, and served as Council President for ten. He said he’d like to expand those successful projects from the Fruitvale and make them citywide.

Kaplan was voted to her current post in 2008 and turned attention to her successes.

Tolbert, who has years of experience with area nonprofits, wants “an opportunity to work with city residents to develop policies that make sense.”

Anderson-Downs is a small business owner in Oakland and is running on the Green Party ticket. Her work centers around youth and youth services. “Our children are in peril,” she said. “They have nowhere to go, nothing to do.”

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