Attendees at Oakland mayoral forum, photo by Pamela Drake, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pamelaadrake/4799735740/
It's exciting to have a Green Mayoral Candidates Forum happening next week, sponsored by The Sierra Club and The Oakland Climate Action Coalition/Ella Baker Center. The August 25 event should be a good opportunity to come out and hear what our mayoral candidates have to say about important environmental issues. Only thing is...most of the candidates won't be there.
Yep, even though we're still more than 10 weeks from the election, the conveners of this event have decided that only the three most "viable candidates" Don Perata, Jean Quan, and Rebecca Kaplan, have been invited to speak. That means the others, including Joe Tuman, whom many people are thrilled to have in the race, Don Macleay, the Green party candidate, along with Terrance Candell, Arnold Fields, Greg Harland, Marcie Hodge, and Larry Lionel Young Jr, were NOT invited to speak.
In fact, they were told they would not be ALLOWED to speak, since the forum was only 90 minutes and "there simply isn't enough time to incorporate
all 10 or more mayoral candidates in this forum." (Quote from a email from Kent Lewandowski,
volunteer Chairperson, Northern Alameda County GroupSierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, sent to candidates who will not be allowed to speak.)
I understand that allowing everyone who filed to have 10 minutes to speak would take more than the time allotted to what's meant to be a discussion of the issues, but I hate the idea that achieving efficency led to a decision to only allow THREE candidates--those who were so-called "professional" politicians--to be heard--and silenced the others at this event.
Is this really the spirit of discourse in Oakland? Is this why we fought to get Rank Choice Voting implemented--so we could keep people ignorant of what a broader field of candidates thought?
The impulse to manage the event is wise, but the execution is just plain wrong.
It would be great to have a mayoral forum on environmental and energy issues where we heard from a larger percentage of the so-called "viable" candidates--this is way too early in the race to silence community leaders. Furthermore, with With Ranked Choice Voting we have more reason to find out about ALL our choices.
I'd like to see the conveners--The Sierra Club and The Oakland Climate Action Coalition/The Ella Baker Center--come up with a better and fairer metric--perhaps number of signatures on the filing petitions--or an online system where Oaklanders can request 3 additional candidates they'd like to hear speak.
Come on, folks, can't you do better? Let's open the field a little wider--so Oakland can hear what more of our mayoral hopefuls have to say on these issues.