Adventures in Oakland Politics: Jean Quan

Last weekend Jean Quan was mugged at a Safeway. Her purse was stolen.

Who is Jean Quan and why should I care? Jean Quan is the District 4 Community Council Member and she is running for Mayor of Oakland. (Check out her website here)

Last week I went to a open house/meet-n-greet in Trestle Glenn. First of all, let me just say Trestle Glenn is a beautiful neighborhood. I am going to make it my life goal to live there. Let’s see if that happens..

The hostess used to be an aid to Jean Quan and she was very gracious and nice. Another staffer introduced herself to me and offered me cookies, cheese and water. This wasn’t was soda water. Probably Perrier. I have never had Perrier. I was impressed.

Then I was disappointed that Jean Quan just gave me a “Hi, how are you.” and then on to the next conversation. Her husband on the other hand was on the ball. He handed me a sign in sheet and offered me every handout and flyer to be had. Good job Jean Quan’s husband!

I also noticed I was the only African American and the youngest participant (outside of the children). There was only about 20 people present, but I still felt special ( read: awkward, nervous, out of place). How come she didn’t treat me as royalty?? Not only did she not shake my hand and ask my name..she proceeded to ask others who arrived their names and a couple of introductory questions: What do you like most about Oakland and What areas do you feel need improvements?

She didn’t ask me. (Jean Quan -1).

Well my name is Tonya Love. I love Lake Merritt and I think our streets need their potholes fixed.

Jean Quan was in a hurry, though. So she quickly gave her speech on what are the 5 most important things that the Mayor of Oakland should do.

1. They have to be ‘hands on’ and they actually have to want to be mayor. (agreed!)
2. Be transparent and ethical.
3. Fight for schools and education.
4. Be a leader for business AND the community.
5. Organize Community Policing.
6. Take care of Land Development for commercial businesses.
7. Encourage Green practices and job development.

Notice there was more than 5 things. Don’t be mad, the Mayor has a lot to do! I thought these were very good things. However, I had a couple of questions. So I raised my hand..and she picked me!! (I was soo excited!!!)

I asked her about what she meant by Community Policing. My neighborhood had a series of violent muggings last year and the only way I knew about it was our neighbors had posted signs in the neighborhood. I also wanted to know who was behind the marketing of Oakland (it sucks)..and what she proposed to do about improving it.

She broke down what was wrong by first talking about lack of funding. Did you know that around 48% of the general budget is spent on the OPD? Another 25% on the fire department? (mmmmm firemen..) The rest, a little over 20% is spent on other city services.

The OPD cost so much because the city has to pay 100% of their pension. The individuals contribute 0% towards their own pensions. (SF- contributes 9% and San Jose contributes 12%). She also said the average officer makes $110 grand a year, more than a lot of other city employees. At the rate we are going, Oakland can go bankrupt really soon. So Oakland decided to lay off a bunch of officers. This reduced force makes it hard to reach all the areas of the city in need of help.

Secondly, the city has little control of scheduling of police, where and what times they are working. Some officers spend little time out in the streets and they also work during weekdays in some areas, not so much during nights and weekends- when the criminals are usually on duty.

She proposed increasing neighborhood community policing, by requiring officers to spend more time out on the streets. She also said she wants to strengthen the support of Neighborhood Service Coordinators and Crime Prevention.

She didn’t really answer the marketing question except to say there was a marketing department. I suppose her priority is to improve the city..which would probably go along way towards improving the marketing.

Jean Quan answered a couple of more questions and had to leave. Her husband and the hostess took over the presentation by taking more questions and showing us a lovely video about how Jean Quan improved the safety and commercial business within the Laurel District in one fell swoop! She’s amazing. 🙂

After all was said and done, I ended up giving Jean Quan +2 points for her answering my questions and for her nice husband. This brings her to +1.

So, I was a little sad to hear that she got mugged. However, this might be the reminder that she needs that safety is an issue in Oakland and it will spur her to work hard to reduce crime. Or hire a bodyguard.


League of Women Voters / Oakland Chamber of Commerce Debate
Thursday, September 23, 7-8:30pm
Kaiser Center Auditorium, 300 Lakeshore

You should be there. Otherwise..stay tuned for my report. 🙂

And no..I won’t be wearing this t-shirt


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