Mayor-elect Ron Dellums: Oakland can be a great city

OAKLAND, Calif. – Calling his election “a mighty victory to take Oakland in a very, very different direction,” Mayor-elect Ron Dellums joined hundreds of supporters for a June 19 victory celebration at the downtown Marriott City Center hotel.

“I accept this responsibility with honor, humility, optimism and idealism,” Dellums said. “We can solve the problems of Oakland. We can be a great city.”

During his campaign, Dellums emphasized the urgency of bringing all parts of the community together to address the city’s problems, including poverty, education, health care, environment and violence. He has said his first task will be to build a transition team and task forces on key issues facing the city, and that the first six months of his administration would focus on an expedited planning process for a vision of Oakland as a “21st-century model city.”

“You’re going to awaken one morning and brilliant ideas are going to come forward, ideas about crime and youth violence, the city and school relationship, poverty and health care,” Dellums said. “Oakland going forward together is what’s going to be the hallmark of the next several years.”

During his campaign, Dellums stressed development that includes housing “affordable to families of all income levels.” He called for what he termed “true” community policing, with officers building relations of respect and trust with the community.

Dellums has highlighted the importance of keeping education public, ending the state takeover of the city’s schools and developing “wrap-around” services at schools to help remove barriers to learning. He also called for expanding access to basic health care, as well as cutting pollution and creating “green collar” employment through developing alternative energy and “green” building construction.

Ten days of suspense while mail ballots were counted ended late last week when it was established that Dellums had won 50.18 percent of the vote, thus avoiding a November runoff. His closest competitor, City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, took 32.99 percent, while City Councilmember Nancy Nadel took just over 13 percent.

After serving on Berkeley’s City Council for four years, Dellums represented Oakland, Berkeley and neighboring communities in Congress for 27 years before resigning in 1998. While in Congress he was instrumental in stopping production of the expensive, destabilizing MX missile and helped end South African apartheid. He also assured funding for area projects such as the economically vital deep dredging of the Port of Oakland, and locating a new federal building and the nationally known Chabot Science Center in the city.

Dellums, now 70, grew up in West Oakland, attending Oakland Tech and McClymonds high schools. His father was a longshoreman, and his uncle, C.L. Dellums, was co-founder with A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Dellums will take office in January. Outgoing Mayor Jerry Brown, termed out after eight years in office, is the Democratic Party’s candidate for state attorney general in the November election.