Noel Gallo, Meg Whitman in 2010.

ELECTION ’12//OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL NOTES | Many in the East Bay now realize their local leaders have no compunction against posing for photographs with some of the area’s most infamous characters. Democrats, even those running for office this November, apparently have few impulses against standing before a camera with convicted shoplifter Mary Hayashi. (Conversely, Hayashi had no problem posing with this local assembly candidate who wore yellow trousers. Scroll down at your own risk.)

There are many good reasons for politicians to cater to Hayashi even with her considerable baggage. However, while the local political infrastructure in the East Bay–almost entirely blue-will support a Democrat canoodling with another soiled Democrat, it will not look kindly at the slightest embrace of even the most saintly Republican.

In Oakland’s overwhelmingly Latino District 5 the existence of a photo featuring Oakland school board member Noel Gallo–a candidate for the district’s city council seat in Oakland–appearing with defeated California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is getting renewed attention.

Mary Hayashi and 20th Assembly candidate
Bill Quirk at his retirement party this July.

A supporter of Mario Juarez, another likely candidate for Fruitvale’s District 5, said last week, “Just Google Noel Gallo and Meg Whitman” and coolly nodded with a mischievous smirk. Whitman, who was defeated by Jerry Brown in 2010, made a surprise appearance at Oakland’s Jefferson Elementary School in October of that year with Gallo in tow. Whitman used the appearance to take digs at Brown’s role in the city’s downtrodden school system. Although, Gallo stood up for the school district’s gain over the past few years, he often looked chummy with Whitman. In one video, Gallo joked with school children that Whitman might one day be president.

The problem for Gallo’s appearance with Whitman, though, is much more problematic than hobnobbing with just any conservative, but with a Republican who was openly hostile to his sizable Latino constituency. Even during her visit in 2010 with Gallo, Whitman spoke of limiting college admission against undocumented students. “I think it’s only fair that people who have played by the rules, they get first chance here, and I think it’s very very important,” Whitman said. That sort of talk definitely does not play well in District 5 or any part of the East Bay for that matter.


QUEEN OF RANKED CHOICE Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attended last week’s District 3 candidates forum in West Oakland and had some words of advice for candidate Alex Miller-Cole. Quan, apparently liked what she heard from Miller-Cole, who incidentally, was one of the few candidates who spoke kind words for the mayor’s “100 block” plan. Ever conscious of the election gimmickry of ranked choice voting that gave her the surprise victory two years ago, Quan told Miller-Cole she believed the room of voters packed into Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church were split over his stances and that of an unnamed candidate. “Remember, you need to build a coalition,” Quan, sounding like the sage of ranked choice voting, told him. Hopefully, the competing candidate Quan was referring to is not Sean Sullivan. Because minutes after Quan left, Miller-Cole called Sullivan an “asshole.”


KAPLAN-DE LA FUENTE BLOCKBUSTER District 5 Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente’s decision to bid for Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s at-large seat is making waves and should prove to be a blockbuster campaign. Observers from different spectrums of Oakland, though, report differing opinions over De La Fuente’s decision to forgo re-election for his current seat to run against Kaplan, most likely Oakland’s most popular politician. “It’s a suicide mission,” a candidate for another Oakland race said regarding De La Fuente’s chances. Conversely, another described Kaplan’s tangible support is actually more tepid than people realize. “It’s a mile wide and an inch deep,” they said.