The Draft Ron Dellums For Oakland Mayor Campaign played its last act this week, with members hoping that next week there will soon be a political campaign to work on.
On Wednesday morning at a rally in front of the Ron Dellums Federal Office Building in downtown Oakland, a coalition of Dellums supporters held up a box of petitions with what they said were more than 8,000 signatures of Oakland citizens urging the former Oakland-Berkeley congressman to run for Oakland mayor in next year’s race.
Dellums has given a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 1 to announce whether he will run. Leaders of the petition campaign said that the petitions would be sent by overnight mail to reach Dellums in Washington D.C. on Friday in advance of that decision.
Included in the coalition were representatives of local Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, African-American, faith-based, white progressive, and labor communities.
At one point, rally members sporting white “Ron Dellums For Oakland Mayor”
T-shirts took up the chant of “Run, Ron, Run!”
Jerry Brown will leave office in 2007 under term limits after serving two terms as Oakland mayor, with elections scheduled next spring to succeed him. A runoff will be held in November 2006 if no candidate receives a majority in the spring election. Several candidates have already announced plans to run, including Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel, Alameda County Treasurer Don White, and Oakland School Board members Dan Siegel and Greg Hodge.
Service Employees International Union Local 790 Political Organizer Andre Spearman called the petition campaign a success. SEIU volunteers helped gather many of the signatures over the past weeks.
“It was spontaneous combustion,” he said, “the highest form of democracy.”
Oakland educator Kitty Kelly Epstein, credited with helping start the Draft Dellums Campaign, said following the rally that organizers had done all they could do to convince Dellums to run, and “it’s in his hands, now.”
Epstein had earlier told cheering rally participants that “we don’t need to settle for low-life politics in Oakland.”
Directing her remarks to Dellums, who was not present at the rally, she said, “We’ve gathered the signatures of thousands of people who are saying ‘we don’t know if you want to be mayor, but we sure would like it if you were.’ ”
In an open letter to Dellums released at the federal building rally, local Latino leaders said that by even raising the possibility of running, Dellums had done a public service.
“Already, at kitchen tables from the flatlands to the Fruitvale, from West Oakland to the Coliseum Corridor and even in the hills, neighbors, friends, co-workers and families are coming together and rediscovering the courage to believe and to demand an Oakland where all can live, work, study and prosper together,” the letter read.
Asian and Pacific Islander American leaders also released letters of praise for Dellums.