Councilmember Desley Brooks at a forum last
month in Oakland.

OAKLAND | CITY COUNCIL | When Michael Johnson, a little-known challenger to Oakland city Councilmember Desley Brooks, began telling audiences this summer that “District Six is an economic donut hole that exists in Oakland,” his comment caught some people’s attention not only because of its candor, but because of the fact that the Oakland healthcare professional and associate pastor was attempting to play hardball with one of the city’s toughest politicians.

But Johnson has not been playing rough all by himself. The other two challengers to Brooks in this year’s election — Shereda Nosakhare and James Moore — have also targeted the incumbent unmercifully, describing her twelve years in office as a failure.

And some of the criticisms have been difficult to refute. Economic development has hopped, skipped, and jumped over Brooks’ East Oakland district, substantial parts of the area are still overrun with crime, and not a single large grocery store exists in the area. In fact, it was the lack of fresh produce and groceries that prompted Johnson’s “donut hole” comment. He later told an environmental group that the absence of a grocery stores suggests a “negligible quality of life” in District Six and accused Brooks of inaction. Uncharacteristically, Brooks has mostly refrained from returning fire against her opponents…