Oakland City Council race preview

May 28, 2008 7:12:09 PM PDT
It's one of five Oakland City Council seats up for grabs in the primary election set for June 3rd, and it pits a long-time incumbent against an anti-crime crusader who once shot a teenager in self defense. A preview of the District 1 contest between Patrick McCullough and incumbent Jane Brunner.

Oakland City Council Member Jane Brunner is a seasoned politician seeking a fourth term representing a north Oakland district that includes some of the city's toughest neighborhoods and some of it's toniest, like Rockridge.

"We are in tough times now and it's important to have leadership that has a proven record of getting things done," says Brunner.

Challenging the 60-year-old Brunner is 53-year-old Patrick McCullough, an anti-crime activist and relative newcomer, who's running because he believes Brunner's leadership has been ineffective.

"I couldn't just sit back and watch these things happen, much like things have happened on my street, and throughout my life. I've had to get involved when others didn't," says McCullough.

In 2005, McCullough made headlines for shooting a 15-year-old boy during a dispute with a group of teenagers in front of his house. Police called the shooting self-defense, but some people protested McCullough's actions and threatened violence if he and his family didn't move out of the neighborhood.

Laura Anthony: "Do you regret anything that happened? Would you have done anything differently?"

McCullough: "No, there's nothing else that I could've done. The only thing else that could've happened is that I'd be dead."

Both McCullough and Brunner believe fighting crime is Oakland's number one issue. Both support the need to boost the police force to at least 1,000 officers. However, they disagree on how to pay for hundreds of new officers.

Brunner supports a property tax initiative.

"To add more officers is a great idea. We need to do it, but we need to go to voters and say, 'Are you willing to pay for it?'" says Brunner.

McCullough advocates paying for new officers by holding the line on the salaries of other city employees.

"I have advocated for and I will continue to advocate on the council for a wage freeze, a temporary wage freeze for two to three years, until we get our budget back under control. We also need to cut some of the top administrators' wages," says McCullough.

McCullough readily admits he has no experience inside City Hall, but he considers that an asset when compared with a rival who's served on the council for more than a decade.

McCullough sees parallels between his campaign based on change and that of Barack Obama, who's emerged as the frontrunner ahead of Hillary Clinton.

"He's not an Obama. I mean, Obama is amazing, and he's not an Obama," says Brunner.

"As much as I may not be in her eyes the Barack, she is certainly no Jack Kennedy or Hillary Clinton, either," says McCullough.

McCullough's candidacy marks the first time in 12 years Brunner's faced an opponent in District 1.


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