Councilmember Larry Reid

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | There may be another city council seat open this November in Oakland. Sources at City Hall say Councilmember Larry Reid is set to retire after 17 years in office.

However, Reid was already telling a few council colleagues of his decision at least one month ago, He cited health problems that have plagued him since last summer, according to some at City Hall. Reid missed nearly three months of work from July to September last year and often appeared to be in discomfort while sitting at the council dais. Soon after, Reid was walking with the aid of a cane.

In addition, Reid’s long-time chief of staff Ray Leon announced on Facebook early Monday morning he is taking a three month leave of absence, starting today. “I am making a life changing career decision,” wrote Leon. “I am great and looking forward to this time off to focus. The job has become stressful, but I wouldn’t have changed anything for it is still rewarding when helping others.”

The past 18 months have been tumultuous for Reid. His health problems were preceded by a city auditor’s report in March 2013 accusing him and Councilmember Desley Brooks of  violating non-interference laws contained in the City Charter. A standoff with the City Council over the possible censure of Brooks featured racial innuendo and hyperbole by Reid, as Brooks escaped official condemnation. Later, Reed raised the possibility of running for mayor, but later backed down. Then, last April, the San Francisco Chronicle reported F.B.I. agents reached out to Reid and fellow Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney while posing as rich developers seeking business opportunities in Oakland. No charges against either were reported.

Reid’s departure will continue a rapid and unprecedented changing of the guard in Oakland. Following a likely November special election for the seat, six of the eight council seats will be occupied by members with less than one term’s experience. The exodus will leave Brooks–also up for re-election–as its longest tenured member, followed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is also rumored to be running for mayor. In addition, Council President Pat Kernighan is not seeking re-election this fall and Councilmember Libby Schaaf is running for mayor.

Possible candidates for Reid’s seat include his daughter, Treva Reid, who works for Assemblymember Nancy Skinner; Oakland businessman and Reid associate, Ken Houston; and Alameda County Board of Education Trustee Marlon McWilson, who represents East Oakland. Former Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente is also a possibility, as is Pastor Zachary Carey of Oakland’s True Vine Ministries.