How Do The Mayoral Candidates Plan To Lead And Manage?

Make Oakland Better Now!’s Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire was answered by 8 of the ten candidates.  All of the completed questionnaires are available for viewing at our web site, here. Since some Oaklanders may want to compare candidate responses to each of the questions, we will be publishing the responses sorted by question here at Oaktalk over the coming days.  You’ll find these posts for the first ninedt questions directly below this one.

When we asked our members what they were concerned about, and asked them for questions, two common threads were leadership ability and managerial competence.  We asked the candidates about these issues, and here’s what they said:

10.            Oakland is a large and very complex entity with a $1.1+ billion budget and thousands of employees.  Please describe:

a.            Your specific experience that qualifies you to oversee an enterprise of this size and complexity;

b.            Your theory of management, with examples of how you have applied that theory;

c.            Your philosophy of executive leadership, with examples of when and where you have shown that philosophy.


  • I’ve had forty years of business experience and during that time I’ve started operated and sold five businesses. These businesses were in retail, manufacturing, computers and food service. None of the other candidates can match my experience of running businesses. that have to produce a profit let alone a balanced budget.
  • The most important lesson I learned in all that time is that a leader is only as good as the people he or she gathers around them. I’ve spent the last eight months searching for a team to work with. So far I’ve found key members. Each has met three criteria I’ve set. First that have a proven track record second they have a strong connection to Oakland and third they share my vision of the future.


As an at-large elected Member of the AC Transit Board and the City Council, I have participated in balancing large and complex budgets.  I have played key roles at both agencies in creating new revenue and negotiating with tax-payers and labor to realize both service-provision and fiscal goals.

When I joined the AC Transit Board the Agency had a string of tax revenue losses at the ballot box, and since I came on and revamped the process by which AC Transit developed revenue measures, all have passed. I co-authored and led the campaign for all four revenue measures on the July 2009 Oakland City ballot, all of which passed overwhelmingly without over-burdening residents. Public agency budgeting is, by design, split among multiple actors, in a way that is very different from private enterprises, but we can also learn from best practices both from government agencies and private sector innovators, including use of retirement incentives as a more cost-effective alternative to layoffs, and use of contemporary technology to deliver services more effectively. I have experience and training in multiple aspects of policy and planning.

My educational background is a Bachelors from MIT, a Masters in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University, and a law degree from Stanford. In addition to my elected leadership roles, I have worked as a transportation advocate for TransForm, as a policy aide to the California State Legislature, as a housing rights lawyer, and in the Oakland City Attorney’s office. My record of reaching consensus and forming compromises while keeping a sharp eye on the desired outcomes and goals of public services will serve Oakland well.

As the leader of our large and vibrant City, I will take a firm lead in setting the vision of the City – for economic revitalization, for healthy and livable neighborhoods, for smart investments in transportation and infrastructure, and for a balanced budget that can sustainably provide basic services including police and fire. I will ensure through my appointments and my work coordinating the department heads that barriers to business are removed at every level of the bureaucracy, and that every agency is prioritizing community health and public access. I seek to find the best and most talented leaders for our City Departments, but I also will raise the morale of City workers by inspiring and empowering them to perform their jobs for the benefit of the community.


I am running for Mayor. I am not running for City Administrator. The reason that I feel ready to do the job is because I am ready to provide political leadership to the residents of Oakland and the employees of the City. To that end I have a lifetime of political activism and leadership that I will bring to bear on leading the city. My knowledge of the languages spoken in Oakland gives me perspective inside many of the communities here. My mix of a working class background and current life as a small business owner gives me affinity with a cross section of social classes. When I speak with the unions, it will be as representative of the city, but also as a dedicated union member. My technical background will be a major contribution as our city plans projects in a time when America is changing the technology of its infrastructure. My environmental background puts me at the leading edge of the major problems of our time. As a trade school graduate and a trade school teacher, I know what our young people are going through in this job crisis and I have a good idea of what needs to happen to really provide training.

But the most important things I have to offer the people of Oakland are a vision for the reform of our city, the will to do it, the ethics to keep on course and the independence to stay and advocate for the city of Oakland and only the city of Oakland.


Because I believe that questions 10 and 11 are two sides of the same coin, I will answer them jointly here:

I spent 16 years as a classroom teacher, and I’ve represented Alameda County and Oakland residents for 21 years in elected office:

9 years as an Alameda County Supervisor, 1986 – 1994.

12 years total in the State Legislature;

2 years as State Assemblyman, 1996 – 1998 and

10 years as California State Senator, 1998 – 2008

4 years as Senate President pro Tem

I have held the following legislative leadership positions;

Senate pro Tem 2004-08;

Senate Majority Leader 2002-04;

Assembly Majority Leader 1996-97;

Rules Chair 1996-97

I negotiated the state’s multi-billion dollar budget for four years with the constraints of recalcitrant Republican legislators who wanted government services diminished and a governor who cared very little about detail.

Only by knowing the details intimately and the myriad laws and factors that restrict spending (and revenues) was I able to come anywhere close to protecting schools, children and families in need and the environment. Of course, having a knowledgeable plain speaking budget director and support analysts made it all work. I was always able to deliver the votes needed to pass the budget. I believe the same successes can be had with the city council.

The city budget is mush. It is practically unreadable, much less coherent than even the state budget. There is no transparency, rhyme or reason where and how money is allocated, spent or accounted for in the public domain.

Go to the city’s website. You cannot even find an organizational chart naming who is responsible for what, who reports to whom or the funding sources.

The city has been using its redevelopment funds as a slush fund to service pet projects when there aren’t general funds available. Critics call it The Bank of Oakland! You might remember the recent debacle where the city council “saved” one bakery with a loan, while denying another (which subsequently closed its doors after a half century in Oakland).

Do we have any idea the amount of “bad loans” on the city’s books?

I will hire the best available city administrator and budget director who suit the crisis conditions in this city’s government. Over my years as county supervisor and senate leader, I have access to many who fit the bill.

The mayor hires all department heads. Each works for him. Each will have (what they apparently don’t have now) goals and objectives by which their performances will be rated. The city has vacancies in two key departments: fire and public works.  Others will receive every opportunity to prove their mettle in a new administration emphasizing results-oriented-service.

I will personally meet with all department heads every morning. (Not once a week with the city administrator, as done in the Dellums administration). I’ll ask, “What did you do yesterday, what are you doing today”.

I will then exit city hall and “manage by walking around the city”. If what I see or hear doesn’t square with what I’ve been told, the responsible department head will meet me immediately to solve the problem.

I don’t believe Oakland’s top management have adequate “on the ground experience” in the city they serve. We will change that.

I expect the city administer to manage Oakland government day-to-day. S/he must have a complete overview of the city’s operations, finances, long-term planning and employee relations. Department heads will be directly accountable to the City Administrator.

Unlike the present structure, the City Administrator will work within the mayor’s office, unburdening the present bureaucratic morass and simplifying the city’s command and control.

As mentioned above, each department head will initially provide in writing the goals and objectives, priorities and budget for the department. We will confer and finalize, becoming the benchmark and record for evaluating performance.

All goals, objectives, department budget and expenditures to date, source of revenues (as well as organizational charts with names) will be published and maintained on the mayor’s website.

In my 20 years in elected office, I’ve been an activist leader. That is, I made leadership personal; I put myself on the line to make clear the buck stopped with me. I didn’t ask others to do what I was not prepared to do. A leader must be able to command any situation.  When you arrive, people should know it and have confidence.

As mayor, I would never ask public employees to pay into their own retirement system, but refuse to do so myself.  Council Members do not pay the 9% that they seek to exact and demand from others.

During the height of the crack epidemic raging Oakland, a drug dealer firebombed a local resident’s home. I arrived and called in the media to show we were not intimidated.

When assault weapons were forcing East Oakland residents to sleep on the floor of their own homes, I began a campaign to ban assault weapons in California; it took me nine years (and repeated threats from the gun lobby and dope dealers) but the law was signed in 1999.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to cut services to persons with disabilities living at home, I took him on publicly. I demanded to know how the national president of the Special Olympics could do this. I produced a television ad that was aired exclusively in the governor’s Brentwood home neighborhood, challenging him to rescind.   He did.

As mayor, there will never be a takeover robbery when my family and staff do not dine there the next day; a murder of a teenager where I wouldn’t be with the distraught family; a child winning an award or a volunteer providing a service that goes unnoticed by the mayor; an opening of a little league or soccer season without the mayor showing his respect to the young athletes, coaches and parents; an Oakland that wouldn’t be the driving force in regional transportation, transit, environmental and economic issues; an Oakland arena that defaulted to San Francisco and San Jose.  We don’t get what we deserve; but we will.

Quan:  : [This answer was provided to question 11, but appears to have been intended as an answer to Questions 10 & 11]

In this race, I am the only candidate who has actually presented a City Budget. I have developed consensus and moved steadily to reduce the city’s structural, pension, and internal debt for the last 5 years. I have done this by trying to listen to a wide range of citizen and staff opinions and developing measurable outcomes. I have developed a strong record providing a clear calendar of budget hearings and community meetings, the innovative Oakland Budget Challenge which allows citizens to balance their own budgets online, and weekly budget updates in my e-newsletter.

I expect to hire a strong City Administrator with broad experience including a track record in economic development and public works management and if possible Port experience. I hope to recruit someone who has a record of being innovative and able to work with a diverse and progressive community and can work collaborative with the community and employees.

As a Kellogg fellow I was influenced by the Tom Peters management by walking around. Or, getting out and seeing how things are actually operating and listening to employees. I also was influenced by Al Gore’s Reinventing Government, giving units more authority to organize work, measurable results or performance goals, and rewards to better outcomes.

In the budget process I have kept an open door to all groups trying to make information on the budget available to all. The first issue I dealt with as a Council Member was Mayor Brown’s proposal to close about one third of the libraries. I joined a coalition of the neighborhood leaders and heard that they would rather close all libraries one day a week than leave some neighborhoods without libraries. I worked with the staff on an alternative budget proposal that did just that. Over the next 6 months I worked with the coalition to formulate Measure Q which saved all the branches, increased materials, computers and programs.


a. Your specific experience that qualifies you to oversee an enterprise of this size and complexity;

First, I have worked within bureaucracies for nearly three decades in universities. Two of these were public universities, with labor unions, colleges and departments that fiercely defended their turfs, overworked non-teaching staffs, lecturers without tenure, tenured professors, administration staff and senior management all the way up to the president’s office. These bureaucracies on an organizational chart would be much larger than anything you see on Oakland’s city chart. Additionally, both of these universities have been through a series of economic cycles (recessions, flat growth, recovery, boom period, etc) that were the exact experience cities like Oakland encountered. My experience within these entities-and especially in the last 23 years at San Francisco State—has included committee chair positions for hiring and retention, tenure and promotion and curricular development. Other experience has involved resolving conflicts between departments over control of curriculum, advising committees over academic freedom issues, and (system wide) helping to adjudicate disputes over supplemental salary increases. Of course, these are not identical to a city–but the experience of working within public bureaucracies is very parallel.

Like these public universities (the other was Cal), the city of Oakland has an elaborate bureaucracy. Like a university, the departments and agencies within the city are to a degree balkanized, and sometimes in competition for resources. Like a university, the city employs workers who belong to different labor unions. Like a university’s unions, the city’s unions are active, and participate vigorously in establishing precedent through contracts that have long term impact on policy and economic vitality (or the lack thereof) for the host institution. Next, let me say that my experience also comes from familiarity and expertise in politics and governance. Both as a professor and as a political analyst for news media, I often focus on the process of governing, especially as that relates to policy issues and how these are translated to the public. This extends locally from topics including local responses to crime, homelessness, or unemployment, to state governance and policies or initiatives concerning taxes and growth, environmental protection, or budget deficits, and from there to national governance (both Congress and the President) for both domestic and international policy issues. At any of those levels (local, state, national), I have an understanding of the process of governing. Moreover, I comprehend the inherent limits of governing and sharing power between an executive (mayor, governor, president) and a legislative branch (city council, state legislature, congress). The entities are all different, but the same rules for cooperation and competition usually apply.

Finally, let me say that my background also includes the experience of running small businesses–two of which were family businesses (restaurants, as a younger person), and later an educational enterprise, and also a small consulting company. I know what it is to make a payroll, to manage employees, and to deal with compensation issues.

b. Your theory of management, with examples of how you have applied that theory;

Let me dissect this question in different ways. I want a strong, centralized management that begins with the mayor’s office and disseminates authority through the city administrator’s office to individual department heads. Although my city administrator (who will align with my values) will deal with the day-to-day functions of governance, I intend to offer hands-on management of both my city administrator and all department managers. They will have access to me and I intend to visit them on a regular basis. As the old management cliché goes, you have to inspect what you expect. At the level of departments I otherwise will promote a relatively flat culture of management – meaning, that all department heads will be roughly equal in power and report up by function to the city administrator.

As a practical matter, I have managed my small businesses this way and also used this approach when running university forensic programs (with staffs of 8-10 people and over 100 students, at both CAL and SFSU). I also assisted my corporate clients (in my business consultancy) to effectively communicate through these very kinds of approaches in large institutions like Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America.

c. Your philosophy of executive leadership, with examples of when and where you have shown that philosophy.

I believe that an executive should lead by example, and model the behavior he or she expects of others. Moreover, I believe that an executive should develop, possess and execute a vision for the entity he or she leads.


a. I have run CET Business College, Candell Records, the marketing for Menlo College and Heald College, founded several schools, supervised Telemanagement Services at Pacific Bell. The list goes on.

b. My management style is to put eminently qualified people into place, monitor, assist and evaluate.

c. My philosophy in all of my businesses has been: “Teach them to build a family, and they will build a nation.”

The more important question is: How could we have ever put someone in office, who has not had my experience. I am the only candidate who has marketed and run businesses with multi-million-dollar budgets. The rest simply are not qualified. Now, the entrenched politicians have lost that much (hundreds of millions); but, how could we have ever expected that they would do anything else? So, let’s rectify the problem and put someone qualified in office for a change. Let’s put Terence Candell in office.


I have been creating business from nothing the last 25 years. When I finished school, I never made more than 10, 11, $12 an hour and with hard work and knowing how to save I have been able to invest millions of dollars into the City of Oakland. I am wired on how to do a lot with a little. With a billion dollar budget there is nothing that we cannot get done and accomplished here, but you need to eradicate the corruption. That is what is plaguing the city, they are digging a hole and they don’t want to stop digging.

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

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