Petition to recall Oakland mayor hits the streets

December 14, 2011 1:40:23 AM PST
She took office less than a year ago, becoming Oakland's first Asian-American and first female mayor. Now Jean Quan is the target of a recall effort with petition backers hitting the street Tuesday to gather signatures.

Quan's handling of the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza has played a large role in the effort to recall the mayor.

When the Occupy Oakland protestors first pitched camp in the plaza, Quan supported them. As problems with the camp grew, she eventually withdrew that support and then opted to be out of town when police moved in the first time.

After a violent confrontation, the camp was cleared, but then the city let the protestors back in. Quan called for a peaceful and voluntary exit, which the occupiers ignored. Eventually police had to go back in and move them out a second time. That has solidified support for her recall.

"This is not a campaign about persuading people," recall spokesman Charles Pine said. "She has persuaded the people of Oakland that we need to avoid suffering three more years of these kinds of disasters."

Voters favoring the recall most often cited Quan's handling of the occupy protest.

"I don't like the way she's conducting the whole Occupy thing," said one recall supporter. Others told us they believed "she mismanaged the Occupy Oakland situation" and that she isn't "...decisive enough. She vacillates. She won't address the issues."

Last week Quan called the recall a distraction.

"The city has a lot of important issues," Quan said last week. "I think recalls, like I said, are divisive [and] distracting. It will hurt maybe some of our initiatives."

Councilmember Pat Kernighan agrees.

"On balance, it's going to be a very negative thing," Kernighan said.

Kernighan sits on the finance committee, which Tuesday heard that funding for police was $3 million over budget and that $1.7 million of that was directly due to the Occupy protests.

James Vann was on Quan's steering committee when she won the mayor's race. We asked him what he thinks she should be doing now.

"My advice would be just to continue doing a good job with being mayor and let the work of being mayor speak for itself," he said.

If the recall petitioners can collect 20,000 signatures by the middle of next May, organizers say they will allow time for candidates to file and to run for mayor on the same recall ballot.

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