September 3, 2021 4:00pm

Poll Asks Councilmember Loren Taylor to Run for Oakland Mayor

Plus, Oakland Power Poll panelists want teachers vaccinated, and favor CHP on city streets.

By Stephen Buel
Oakland, CA Correspondent

In response to an open-ended call for names of people they would like to see run for mayor next year, participants in the latest Oakland Power Poll selected City Councilmember Loren Taylor by a two-to-one margin over his nearest potential rival.

Panelists also identified 11 other people whom they hope will run to replace Mayor Libby Schaaf, who is ineligible to run for reelection in 2022 when her second four-year term expires. Other popular names suggested by voters in our latest poll included Taylor’s council peers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Rebecca Kaplan, Sheng Thao and Treva Reid.

In other topics, panelists support the termed-out mayor’s request to the California Highway Patrol for policing assistance, and unanimously endorsed the notion that K-12 teachers should be vaccinated.

And in perhaps the most surprising response to any question in Oakland Power Poll history, respondents overwhelmingly agreed with the mayor of San Jose that Bay Area governments should study whether damming the Golden Gate is an appropriate way to protect our shores from sea-level rise.

Here are the specific questions and responses to our latest Oakland Power Poll:

Question 1

By this time next year, the 2022 Oakland mayor’s race will be in full swing. Current Mayor Libby Schaaf is termed out and cannot seek re-election. Whom would you like to see run for mayor from among eligible Oakland residents?

Nikki Fortunato Bas, City Council President

Cat Brooks, Activist and former mayoral candidate

Cestra “Ces” Butner, Port Commissioner and Horizon Beverage Company owner

Jose Corona, Vice President at Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play.

Carroll Fife, Councilmember

Noel Gallo, Councilmember

Rebecca Kaplan, Vice Mayor and Councilmember

James Harris, School Board Member

Treva Reid, Councilmember

Joseph Tanios, City Construction Inspector

Loren Taylor, Councilmember

Sheng Thao, Councilmember

I wish there were a way Libby could run again.


Question 2

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently followed the lead of schools here and elsewhere by mandating that teachers and other public and private school employees receive the vaccine for Covid-19. The OUSD mandate takes effect on Sept. 7; the private school one follows on Oct. 15. Do you support this policy?

Yes — 100%

No — 0%

No opinion/don’t care — 0%

Question 3

The governor also recently agreed to Mayor Schaaf’s request for the California Highway Patrol to help police commercial districts and patrol International Boulevard. The move comes on the heels of a new city budget that will result in police staffing levels dropping by about 50 personnel over two years. Do you support the CHP assistance?

Yes — 67%

No — 27%

No opinion/don’t care — 7%

Question 4

During a recent discussion about safeguarding the Bay Area from sea-level rise, San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo pointed out the undeniable futility of counting on every regional government to independently solve the problem along its shores. He suggested a simple but radical solution — studying a way to keep rising tides from entering the Golden Gate.

It works in the Netherlands. Without a regional solution, we’re doomed — 73%

Dam the Golden Gate? Surely the good mayor is joking — 8%

No opinion/don’t care — 15%

Why are we worrying about something we haven’t yet seen? — 4%

We should just let the sea reclaim low-lying lands — 0%

Question 5

Please provide additional thoughts about any of these topics.

Analysis of Question About Mayoral Race

It’s no surprise that panelists looked toward the city council for the bulk of the preferred mayoral candidates. What is perhaps surprising is that every member had someone in their camp except for District 1’s hard-working councilmember Dan Kalb, long one of the council’s most effective members.

No one on this list has yet unveiled a formal campaign, and some might already have ruled out a run, (or be utterly horrified to have been nominated). And no one nominated three other people who are running or have been touted as candidates: Police Commissioner Regina Jackson, tax consultant Nancy Sidebotham, and homelessness activist Derrick Soo. Nonetheless, the list suggests the possible contours of a 2022 mayor’s race.

Potential candidates Taylor, Reid, and possibly Corona might seek to stake out the center lane so effectively claimed by Schaaf in her inaugural 2014 campaign. The Cat Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan, and Dan Siegel progressive lane could be inhabited by Bas, Fife, Harris and, of course, Brooks and Kaplan themselves. Butner and possibly Tanios would likely campaign from the Bryan Parker commonsense, pro-business lane. Meanwhile, Gallo’s iconoclastic politics defy easy description.

The rumor mill suggests that Taylor is at least contemplating a run. He should thus be happy with his strong performance in this hella informal straw poll. As at least one panelist seemed aware, a bid by either Taylor or Reid could unite the mainstream liberals who strongly backed Schaaf with those voters who pine for the return of African-American leadership to The Town. “Oakland needs its next great Black mayor,” that panelist wrote. “Loren Taylor and Treva Reid can bring the leadership Oaklanders want, and they’re not part of the crazy ‘defund the OPD’ city council that includes Bas, Fife and Thao, who also seem to be owned by the unions.

Thao, meanwhile, reportedly has told people that she is running, boasting of labor endorsements that might suggest her council peer Bas has decided that being a big-city mayor isn’t worth the hassle.

Stay tuned. Power Poll will return to this topic next month and ask panelists to select their favorite nominee from among this entire list of actual, rumored and hoped-for mayoral candidates.

Analysis of Vaccinating Teachers

Not much to say about this one, given the unanimous support for the twin vaccine mandates. If teachers opposed to vaccination had been hoping to generate sympathy by picketing on corners outside of Oakland schools, they might want to reconsider that strategy.

Analysis of Highway Patrol Officers Policing Oakland

Given the attitudes of Power Poll members regarding the city’s recent budget and the police staffing cuts it will set in motion, this response was little surprise. Indeed, one panelist made that connection explicitly: “Oakland needs to reinstate the police budget — in an effective, impactful and meaningful manner.”

But another commenter didn’t view the state Highway Patrol as a suitable replacement for Oakland’s police. “I would like to see overall more police, not CHP,” that panelist wrote. “CHP don't have the same level of community sensitivity as OPD.”

Still another panelist framed the issue of policing as an existential one for Oakland. “We have been asked to approve multiple bonds to pay for more police, in spite of record property tax revenue in Oakland,” that voter wrote. “The outcome has been fewer officers policing our city to keep it safe. People with the financial means to do so are leaving Oakland to move to safer communities. This flight to safety will continue to occur until our elected leaders do their job and keep citizens safe.”

Analysis of Mayor Licardo’s Trial Balloon

San Jose’s mayor clearly was on to something when he casually observed that Bay Area governments probably can’t be trusted to adequately address sea-level rise along several hundred miles of Bay Area shoreline. For instance, if Oakland built a levy on its shoreline but either Emeryville or San Leandro failed to do so, water could just rush in around the levy and flood low-lying lands.

But if any answer in the history of Oakland Power Poll has ever surprised, it was the support of almost three out of four environmentally inclined Oaklanders for a proposal to study the notion of damming the Golden Gate. Perhaps the now-daily reminders of climate change — firestorms, droughts, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes — have people willing to think differently.

Interestingly enough, only 48 percent of respondents in our first-ever San Jose Power Poll backed this trial balloon from their mayor. And where no Oakland voters are ready to cede one inch of The Town back to the ocean, 15 percent of San Jose voters are ready to let the sea reclaim Alviso.

Oakland Power Poll is not a scientific poll. Rather, we ask questions of influential people from a wide range of viewpoints to help advance informed dialogue about the city. Power Poll is non-partisan.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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