Oakland mayoral elections are just around the corner. After two terms, incumbent mayor Libby Schaaf is term-limited, and a new mayor will be elected on November 8th, 2022. The election will use instant-runoff voting, often used when there are more than two candidates. This means that voters will submit a ranked list of candidates, and if a candidate wins the more than half of first choice votes, then they are elected as mayor. However if that is not the case, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is defeated, and the second choice of the voters who had selected the defeated candidate as first will be added to the count of votes. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the votes.
There are ten candidates running for mayor this election. While most of them are relatively unknown, the race is looking to be primarily between Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao. Loren Taylor, an Oakland City Council member representing District 6, is endorsed by Libby Schaaf. While this garners him support and attention, it also signals to some voters that he may follow the same mayoral path as Schaaf, something that people were not always pleased with. While Taylor has been an ally of Schaaf, he still disagrees.
In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, he says, “It’s not informed because it’s not actually paying attention to my record…It’s demeaning because it’s another example of undervaluing what Black people contribute and can accomplish independently.” Taylor plans on “tackling homelessness and building affordable housing” and “reimagining public safety,” according to his campaign website.
His opponent, Sheng Thao, another City Council member, is backed heavily by organized labor groups. While many voters are worried that their endorsement means that she won’t push back on labor, she assures them that they support her because she pushes back, and through the lens of working families.
A third City Council member is part of the race: Treva Reid. She is well known in her district and has raised the most money, alongside Taylor and Thao. Her priorities include public safety, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. However, apart from these three, most candidates are not widely known.
Some candidates have started to form alliances, partly as a result of the ranked choice voting, such as the more progressive alliance of Greg Hodge, Allyssa Victory, and Thao. They, as well as other candidates, address the issue of Howard Terminal, where the Oakland Athletic’s baseball team wants to build a stadium that could bring revenue to the city. While many candidates are in support, others are more hesitant. They bring up the issue of affordable housing, as well as the environmental impact of the stadium. Peter Liu, a wealthy Republican candidate known for being Anti-Semitic and supporting guns, takes a different approach. He said in an email, “I’d say Howard Terminal Ballpark is a stupid f— project and anyone supporting it is a stupid f—.”
So, while there seems to be some good ideas and proposals floating around, the election is not without some mishaps. There were also three candidates left out of the race because they were told the wrong day to submit their applications.
Many voters hope that a new mayor will bring to life ideas to help the people of Oakland, and many candidates promise to fulfill these wishes. However, whether the people believe that the candidates can keep their promises will soon be determined.