NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

Polls Show Aimee Allison Ahead in District 2, Sources Say

Posted by novometro on September 19, 2006

By Alex Gronke

As I was talking to Aimee Allison this morning in Chachies cafe on Broadway in downtown Oakland, I kept wondering who she reminded me of.

It wasn’t until my partner-in-crime, Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar, and I left the cafe that we figured it out: she was just like every savvy CEO we’d ever met as reporters for Red Herring, a business and technology magazine in Silicon Valley.

It’s a strange thing to say about the conscientious objector and Green Party candidate in the runoff election against incumbent Pat Kernighan for Oakland City Council’s District 2, an area that stretches from the Piedmont border to the estuary, along the east side of Lake Merritt. But Ms. Allison has that controlled manic energy of a Type A personality, not to mention the capacity to stay on message no matter where the conversation leads. Perhaps like any smart politician, she calibrates her personality to suit her audience, but the Stanford grad made much of her corporate background and emphasized her view that Oakland sorely needs jobs and should become a magnet for venture capital. “There should be opportunities for rich folks,” she says.

Ms. Allison, 37, saw her political opportunity when Danny Wan left the City Council in 2005. Ms. Allison finished fourth in a special election held in May 2005 to replace Mr. Wan. But 13 months later, she forced Ms. Kernighan into a runoff race by capturing almost 40 percent of the vote to her opponent’s 46 percent. And, while I have not been able to confirm it, two sources have told me that OakPAC, the pro-business political action arm of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, which backs Ms. Kernighan, recently conducted a poll in district 2. It found Ms. Allison ahead by five points. That’s an impressive showing for someone whose primary political activity was trying to dismantle the nation’s military-industrial complex rather than working in local government.

I asked Ms. Allison why she thinks she can step into Oakland politics without so much as a bid for the school board or serving time on some citizen’s commission. “Democracy, at its healthiest, encourages people from all kinds of backgrounds. Who are the haters? The haters are people who have been around, people who have been part of the system. It will never be our turn until we assert ourselves,” she says.

NovoMetro: You talk a lot about schools, but the City Council has little control over what happens with the way local schools are run, and your own child attends a private school. What can you do about Oakland’s troubled schools from a position in City Hall?

Allison: Mayor Brown’s [Oakland Military Academy] showed that a mayor can go after funding.

NovoMetro: Doesn’t a charter school detract from the strength of the local school district by taking away funding and students?

Allison: We need to subsidize our school system. We need to identify other sources of revenue. I’m not talking about more taxes. Property owners in this city are already very generous. [Ms. Allison had said earlier that developer’s fees applied to new projects could help fund schools].

At the beginning of our talk, Ms. Allison said that she had gone from feeling safe in her Oakland neighborhood to feeling afraid. I asked her why she thought crime was rising in Oakland. “It’s a vicious cycle,” she says. She describes a political ecosystem that underfunds social programs that direct youth toward employment and away from crime. Simultaneously, it gives too much money to a police department that seeks more resources because of rising crime. She says the Oakland police department’s contract needs to be renegotiated.

NovoMetro: One of your more controversial positions has been to say that you will seek to change the city charter so the Port of Oakland can be taxed. Won’t this hurt one of the largest economic engines in the area?

Allison: That’s the assumption the folks at the port would like you to believe. If they want to act like a private business they should have to pay like a private business.

Ms. Allison said she was going to stay in the cafe to finish edits on her forthcoming book, An Army of None, which she is coauthoring with David Solnit, the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World.

We’ll be talking to Pat Kernighan soon.

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4 Responses to “Polls Show Aimee Allison Ahead in District 2, Sources Say”

  1. […] In her tight race against Aimee Allison to keep her City Council seat representing Oakland’s District 2, Ms. Kernighan is wise not to take the support of any group for granted. Ms. Allison, a smooth-talking political newcomer with a Green Party membership and a Stanford B.A. has been winning over supporters since the runoff race began in June. Ms. Allison, 37, depicts Ms. Kernighan, 57, as a pillar of the establishment. Ms. Allison is a conscientious objector, and there can be times when Ms. Allison is on the stump that the distance between Oakland City Hall and the Pentagon can appear shortened. […]

  2. RJ Pittman, Jr. said

    Ms. Allison may be a Green Party “member”, but Pat Kernighan has their endorsement. Also Pat has the Alameda County Democratic Partner endorsement, was instrumental in creating the new 18th Street Albertson’s mega-store and is finalizing the arrival of our district’s new “Trader Joes”…as Cheif of staff for previous Council Member Danny Wan, she has the experience (please compare the two candidate’s resumes) and the leadership ability to continue the areas growth and prosperity, Ms. Allison may prove herself a future area leader, but for now, I suggest we “Stand Pat” and move forward. Commissioner Bob Pittman

  3. Antibush said

    Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn’t the country with
    the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn’t that likely to be the most hated country?
    Our country is in debt until forever, we don’t have jobs, and we live in fear. We have invaded a country and been responsible for thousands of deaths.
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

  4. A new fraud on the Internet

    A new fraud on the Internet

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