Councilmember Noel Gallo has pledged to enact crime fighting measures such as "stop and frisk" strategies and a youth curfew.
Members of the Oakland City Council, new and old, received their assignments for seven city committees on Wednesday, with few objections raised.
But one forum speaker criticized the naming of Councilman Noel Gallo, one of three new members to the council sworn in on Monday, to the chair of the public safety committee, and Councilwoman Desley Brooks abstained from the vote.
Brooks was dissatisfied with what she saw as the council's lack of urgency on public safety.
"Public safety is the number one issue. Public safety should have been paramount, not the election of the presidency of the council," Brooks said, referring to Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan's election as council president on Monday.
Brooks tempered her criticism of Gallo, however, stating that she had "no problem" with the former Oakland Unified School Board member's nomination as public safety chair.
Gene Hazzard, the organizer of a 2012 effort to recall Mayor Jean Quan and the only person to speak before the council on Wednesday, said he believed it was wrong to nominate a rookie council member to an important committee.
"A senior council member should be the chair of the public safety committee," Hazzard said. "Minimally it should be Councilmember Larry Reid…This is too important of a committee to have a sophomore, freshman councilmember as chair."
Although Gallo is the only new councilmember out of three elected last year to have been made the chair of one the city's committees, Council President Patricia Kernighan - new to that position herself - said she was confident Gallo could do the job.
"Mr. Gallo has spent about 60 years of his life living in Oakland in a neighborhood with a lot of crime, and he spent 20 years on the Oakland School Board, so he is not new to committee meetings like this. So I have a great deal of confidence that he is going to do just fine," Kernighan said.
Gallo grew up in Fruitvale and attended Saint Elizabeth High School.
Kernighan noted that, with seven committees and eight councilmembers, at least one of the three new members had to become a committee chair.
Gallo has pledged his support for a pair of controversial crime-fighting tactics. After being sworn in as a councilman on Monday, he announced that he favored giving police the ability to use "stop and frisk" tactics to combat gun violence.
Opponents of "stop and frisk," say the tactic gives police too much authority to stop anyone they suspect could be dangerous.
"They involved stopping people on the street for no other reason than the policeman has a hunch of because of that peron's age of race, or demographic. That's wrong," said ACLU attorney Michael Risher to ABC 7 in San Francisco.
On Tuesday, a New York City judge ruled that the "stop and frisk" tactics used by the NY Police Department violated Constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.
Gallo has also called for implementing a youth curfew.
Here are the other committee chair nominations that were voted in on Wednesday:
Councilwoman Libby Schaaf will chair the finance committee; Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, the public works committee; Reid, the community and economic development committee; Brooks, the life enrichment committee; and Kernighan, the education partnership committee and rules and regulation committee.