Joe Tuman, Courtney Ruby and Bryan Parker at a press conference Thursday in front of City Hall saying each of their candidacies are outsider bids for the mayor’s office next month. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares

OAKLAND | MAYOR | The close second-tier of Oakland mayoral candidates, referring to themselves as outsiders, say the insiders, incidentally the trio leading in recent polls, don’t deserve another chance at leading the city.

Joe Tuman, center, fields questions from
reporters on the steps of City Hall.

Mayoral candidates Joe Tuman, Bryan Parker and Courtney Ruby, buoyed by a poll released Wednesday showing a potential five-way dead heat in the race with less than two weeks to go, say they have forming a “coalition” to, instead, put one of them in the mayor’s office and not Jean Quan or Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf.

“Their experience hasn’t offered much,” said Tuman at a press conference Thursday afternoon in front of City Hall. Tuman said the list of errors by the three in the past is numerous. He slammed the City Council’s handling of the most recent waste contract, described Kaplan as “bungling” the Coliseum lease deal with the Oakalnd Athletics, criticized the steps leading to placing Measure Z, the city’s public safety parcel tax, on the fall ballot and Quan’s response to the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Tuman’s campaign, according to the independent poll, is inching closer to the top three containing Kaplan, Schaaf and Quan. “Each of us brings a different skill set,” added Tuman.

Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby’s 
campaign has languished in seventh
place, according to polls.

Parker’s campaign, according to the poll, is also improving; at least, within striking distance to the top three when taking account the poll’s margin of error. Parker defended his outsider status despite being a member of the Port of Oakland Commission appointed by Quan. He told reporters the poor financial situation at the port, to him, “showed how how broken city government is.”

Ruby, who serves as the city auditor, said she is an “insider that is an outsider. As city auditor, I’m not part of the problem.” Ruby, however, despite her office’s record for uncovering abuse at City Hall, has failed to catch any momentum during the campaign and may be the least likely to prosper from the affiliation with Tuman and Parker.

Throughout the campaign, it has been clear the threesome share similar visions for Oakland that include bolstering the police force and greater transparency at City Hall. The partnership is also necessitated by ranked-choice voting which encourages coalitions among candidates. Four years ago, in the first use of ranked-choice voting in Oakland, Quan and Kaplan joined forces to edge out Don Perata for the mayor’s office, despite the former State Senate pro tem receiving the most first-place votes.

Tuman said he and Ruby first started talking about a potential partnership about a month ago. “It happened organically,” said Tuman. After some of the forums, the three informally chatted about the potential partnership, he added.

“We were all naturally thinking, how can we do something different?” said Parker. “We saw similarities in each other and it was natural. Frankly, people that are running for mayor are not the kind of people you can tell what to do if it didn’t make sense,” said Parker.

With most polls consistently placing Tuman higher in the polls over Parker and Ruby, the coalition may slightly favor Tuman, but Parker disagrees. Instead, any success the threesome receives may be designed to undercut Schaaf, whose campaign has recently caught some momentum. Parker believes Tuman voters, who may be initially inclined to give Schaaf their second place vote, will instead gravitate to his campaign along with his supporters backing Tuman for second.

“Who has the greater trade? What this [coalition] does is impact the race fundamentally,” said Parker. “We are competing against each other and, yes, we go into that with the knowledge whoever can get ahead of the other is going to benefit. I think we’re betting in the end that will be us.”