Recall campaign of Oakland Mayor Thao officially launched with notice of intent sent

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Sunday, January 7, 2024
Recall campaign of Oakland mayor officially launched
The effort to recall Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao officially got underway on Saturday when a notice of intent was sent via certified mail to the mayor.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The effort to recall Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao officially got underway on Saturday when a notice of intent was sent via certified mail to the mayor by retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte.

"There are too many lives that have been lost, too many cars stolen, too many people who have been robbed -- coming from a bank, followed home. Too many businesses have even closed. This mayor has blood on her hands," said Harbin-Forte, who is the lead proponent of the recall.

The letter states: "You lack the competency, credibility, judgement and ability to lead what was once a great American city."

As stated in the letter, grounds for the recall include creating a public safety crisis by "systematically dismantling the Oakland police department," delaying OPD's exit from 20 years of federal oversight, missing the deadline for a multi-million dollar state grant to fight retail theft, and rising crime."

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"Businesses were not leaving Oakland at this pace before she came into office. So we can't pretend that there is no correlation between her decisions and what is happening with the city now," said Harbin-Forte.

"The roads are horrible. The streets are so flighty and dirty," said an Oakland resident, who only gave her name as Ziba. "I think (Mayor Thao) is incompetent. And she has to go."

Others who support the recall point to the Oakland A's leaving, problems at the 911 emergency dispatch center, a cyber-attack and the ongoing homeless problem.

Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo says he is "surprised" by the recall and doesn't support it. He thinks it will create more divisions in city hall. But he adds, he does support voters' right to take action.

"People are frustrated. They are disappointed. They want immediate action to bring back Oakland to the level where it used to be," Gallo said.

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Gallo is calling for Thao to declare a state of emergency, which could allow Oakland to seek state and federal funding and assistance from outside law enforcement agencies.

Thao has admitted to mistakes at previous public forums.

"The buck does stop with me. I am the mayor. So I take full responsibility for that," said Thao at an event in December about missing the retail theft grant.

But Thao's supporters point to new programs underway, such as grants for small businesses and new policing initiatives, even as Oakland tackles a historic deficit. And they argue, though crime maybe up, it is not at historic levels.

Harbin-Forte was on the Oakland Police Commission until she was removed by Thao last year. Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife sees the recall a political stunt.

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"It's very disturbing that an individual that was released from a police commission, for a number of factors, is part of an effort to unseat a newly-elected mayor, who really hasn't had the opportunity to show whether or not there can be real changes in a city. We have to turn around an ocean liner in the City of Oakland," Fife said.

Harbin-Forte dismisses such accusations.

"What is happening in Oakland is serious. It is significant. And we don't need anybody in this process who is trying to settle a grudge. And I am certainly not doing that," she said.

Thao's office did not respond to requests for comment. Once the notice is received, the mayor has seven days to respond.

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