How Can Oakland More Effectively Engage Oakland’s Citizens In City Issues? Here’s What The Mayoral Candidates Say

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 fourteen questions directly below this one.

In our last post, we asked candidates about the city’s use of KTOP and other media to engage and educate Oaklanders.  Following up on the same subject, we ask them a more open-ended question on how to engage Oakland’s citizens in city issues.

Question No. 15:      Should the City be taking other steps to more effectively engage the citizenry in city issues, and if so, what steps?


There should be regularly scheduled Town Hall meetings to hear the voices of the people. I have another scheduled Town Hall Meeting on September 23rd @ 6:30pm.

The city of Oakland must be marketed by the mayor on television, on the Internet and in certain local newspapers to spotlight the positive attributes of our city, and there are many of them. Those within and outside of our city can begin to look upon our city with reverent pride and want to develop and/or do business here, or simply want to visit. Thus the citizenry will be significantly engaged and want to be part of a working process. We must show them something first.


Town hall meeting monthly or by monthly.


As the Mayor I intend to spend a great deal of time meeting with the public. This will include groups like yours and all others that are interested in improving our city. I plan to also visit schools of all levels public and private.


Yes, the City should revamp its Boards and Commissions system to give these citizen bodies more decision-making power and to enable the City Council to tap into the knowledge of the community. Currently recommendations from Boards and Commissions are often ignored. A rethinking of the Boards and Commissions as they exist now, and a look at how other cities give their commissions decision making authority (such as Los Angeles’ very strong system of Commissions) would be an initiative of mine as Mayor. In addition, I would work with the City Council, and go to the ballot if necessary, to ensure that meetings are effective and responsive to the public.


Good leadership should always encourage the public to be engaged, empower and informed.

I think that there is a lot of room for changes to how we deal with our grass roots groups.

Have we considered ELECTED neighborhood committees? Ones with some control and budget?

Are we looking at our council districts? Do they represent the neighborhoods or cut them up?

This question makes me want to ask the questions of why the public is not more effectively engaged and start knocking down the barriers to public service and civic involvement.

As mayor I will be asking this question of the public and taking the time to listen to the answers.


I think individual citizens and groups, such as MOBN!, should offer up ways and means to the city as to how to more effectively engage you. In a council district city, a large responsibility for communication lies with the council member.

But, I would use the Internet interactively, more than the city does currently.  Daily (real time) postings of public matters, complaints, calls for service, information about when a citizen might expect a service will be provided (garbage, pot holes, lighting, general nuisance).

Since the decline of local news coverage, and realizing that bloggers can only report and discuss with access to prime data, such a city service is essential.


Yes, I would like to broaden the NCPC’s from Crime Prevention Councils to broader Neighborhood Councils throughout the city. This is what we have done for the most part within my district where a wide range of activities including support schools, beautification and business development are regularly discussed. I would like to use them as forums to sound out a wider range of activities and sponsor more citizen involvement on all levels.


See my answer above re: web presence. Additionally, I think much good came from Mayor Dellums’ efforts with task forces. I think our future challenges may require more use of these.

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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