Schaaf, Quan Vow A Seamless Transition

Oakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf at press conference Thursday morning at City Hall with Mayor Jean Quan in the background. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Oakland’s current and future mayor addressed the media two days after Libby Schaaf’s surprisingly easy victory in the city’s mayoral election.

Mayor Jean Quan and Mayor-elect Schaaf ended months of hard-fought campaigning with conciliatory tones during a press conference Thursday morning inside the City Council chambers.

“I stand on my record,” Quan told reporters
Thursday morning at City Hall.

“We both love the city and I know we will work together to make sure the city continues to rise,” said
Quan, who finished a disappointing third in her bid for re-election. Quan added, the result amounts to a “generational-handoff” in Oakland.

The gathering was Schaaf’s first press conference since her dominating performance Tuesday night with nearly 63 percent of the electorate after ranked choice votes were tabulated. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan finished second, followed by Quan.

“I’m deeply honored and incredibly humbled by Mayor Quan’s reaching out and pledge to usher in a smooth, positive transition,” said Schaaf.

“It is so exciting to be entrusted with the leadership of this city at this particular moment in time. You all know how crazily proud I am to be a Oakland native, born and raised–made in Oakland,” said Schaaf. She plans to strengthen Oakland’s brand not only locally, but nationally, and to communicate the city “tasty secret sauce” of a vibrant culinary and art community. A push to connect residents with City Hall through technology, in addition, to streamlining government, will occur under her administration, she said.

Schaaf said she will build upon Quan’s efforts in increasing public safety and bolstering the police force. A focus on enticing investment and jobs to East Oakland is high on her early agenda, she said. The area has long been an underperforming segment of the city.

The new mayor will likely be thrown into the fire of city politics quickly. A slate of union contracts are up for negotiations and divisions between rich and poor and natives and newcomers accused of gentrifying neighborhoods still persist. A new city administrator will also need to be hired to replace the interim Henry Gardner, who is not seeking the job permanently.

The future of the city’s professional sports teams and finding new stadiums for each is also a pressing concern. “How can we have a city without our sports teams?” said Schaaf. She will also continue down the path for the potential Coliseum City project and a vow to use “everything within my power to keep our sports teams in Oakland.” Quan, though, later suggested she will use her last month in office to continue work on keeping the A’s, Raiders and Warriors in the city.

“The honeymoon is probably already over,” joked Quan to Schaaf, while referencing the recall that briefly beset her administration within its first six months in 2011, among other unforeseen early flashpoints.

Meanwhile, Quan also used the 30-minute press conference to bolster her legacy as mayor over the past four years. Citing reductions in the city deficits and violent crime, in addition, to near compliance with federally-mandated reforms at the Oakland Police Department, Quan said, “This is not the city it was four years ago.”

Quan added she is  most proud about new affordable housing stock added in Oakland and intends to spend last few weeks furthering . “I feel proud about my record. I stand on my record.”

As for the future, Quan says she and her family may take a vacation for the first time in six years, but plans to keep engaged in city politics. “We’re never going to leave Oakland and we’re all going to continue to be involved in some way.”Some role at the state or federal level is also a possibility, she added.