Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inside Info for District 5 City Council Debate Tonight

Candidates for Oakland District 5 City Council Seat will Debate Tonight in Fruitvale
The four candidates for Oakland’s District 5 City Council Seat will debate tonight in an open forum at the Fruitvale- San Antonio Senior Center, located in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.  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 5 encompass the diverse East Oakland area, including the Glenview and Fruitvale neighborhoods and portions of the estuary waterfront, Dimond District and Jingletown. The District is sometimes characterized on the council as predominately Latino (as compared to other Oakland council districts) however, when examined more closely it appears to be quite diverse ethnically.

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. 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 5 has been most recently held by Ignacio De La Fuente, for nearly 20 full years (5 consecutive terms). First elected to the Oakland City Council in 1992, he served as the chair of the Council's Economic and Community Development Committee until January 1999. De La Fuente then became the first Council member to serve as Council President, and held the post of Vice Mayor from 2009-2011. Mr. De La Fuente is stepping down at this end of this term (Dec ember 2012) to concentrate on his campaign for the At-Large Council seat for Oakland.  Most recently, Councilmember De La Fuente has chaired the influential Finance & Management Committee of the council.
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.

This debate will likely cover (but won’t be limited to) several critical issues concerning the Fruitvale part Oakland, including economic development, gang injunctions, jobs, pensions and crime. What do you think are the biggest issues facing District 5 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)

Dawn McMahan is the founder and Executive Artistic Director of the Pythia Arts Foundation, and the creator of the Phoenix Rising Homeless Project, and the Oak Tree Arts Center in East Oakland. Ms. McMahan lives in District 5 and is a guest lecturer in the Merritt College business program. She holds degrees from the Merritt College Community Social Services/Substance Abuse Counseling Program, and the University of Southern California.

Mario Juarez has been a District 5 resident since he was a youth.  Mr. Juarez owns Mario Juarez Real Estate and has been recognized by the Pinnacle Award for Sales from the Bay East Association of Realtors in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He also currently serves on the City of Oakland Workforce Investment Board. Mr. Juarez has been a member of the Unity Council Board of Directors, City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission, and Hispanic Chamber Commerce of Alameda County.

Noel Gallo grew up in the Fruitvale/San Antonio District neighborhoods. Mr. Gallo was elected to the Oakland Board of Education in 1992 and has lead 6 successful education funding campaigns, generating over a $1 billion dollars for schools. Under his tenure, the Oakland Public Schools has been voted  the most improved school district in the state of California for the past 7 years. He currently works as Regional Director with Ray & Associates leading Superintendent Searches for School Districts throughout the country. Mr. Gallo holds a graduate Business Degree from University of California, Berkeley.

Shelly Garza has been a City of Oakland employee for 11 years, and is a single mother of 5. Ms. Garza is also the General Manager of a Micro Business Incubator center in District 5.


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 pjunge@oaklandchamber.com 

Full Debate Schedule

Tonight’s District 5 debate is the fourth 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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