The days get shorter and the politics get longer. November 4, with its weather and its elections, is knocking on the other side of October.

California will be choosing a Governor and an Attorney General, all 53 of California’s congressional districts will be electing U.S. Representatives, and Oakland will decide its own political future in the Mayoral and City Council races.

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Temple Sinai in 1914 and 2014. (Photo by Jayjg. Licensed under Creative Commons, http://bit.ly/1tEvDvV. Historical photo from https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2664/3859686777_9f23d44daa.jpg)

That is why this upcoming Thursday, September 18, the beautiful Temple Sinai will host a non-partisan mayoral forum for all Oakland residents. Cy Musiker, the beloved KQED reporter and voice-man, will moderate the event, which will feature the 7 candidates who are polling at at least 5% in current independent polls: Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaff, Bryan Parker, Joe Truman, Dan Siegel, Courtney Ruby, and incumbent Mayor Jean Quan.

The event will be non-partisan, wheelchair accessible and lightly refreshmented.

The Moderator

Cy Musiker is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a journalist for KQED who co-hosts The Do List, and covers arts and politics for KQED News and The California Report.

He’s been working the Bay Area news scene at KQED for the last 19 years, as a reporter, anchor and editor, and has been honored by The Society for Professional Journalists with an award for Public Service in Journalism.  He is also a long time member of Temple Sinai.

Below is a video of Cy Musiker appearing on This Week in Northern California in 2013.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcYOeQI7k-g&w=560&h=315]

The Mayoral Marathon

The New York Times, after attending an Oakland mayoral event in June at the Acts Full Gospel Church, tallied the total number of candidates at 19, though only 14  of them attended that event.

Still, 14 politicians on one stage, all desperately trying to make themselves heard, sounds like a recipe for listener apathy.

Only 7 candidates will be appearing for Thursday’s event at Temple Sinai. This subset were chosen based on selection criteria agreed upon by the several community groups that are organizing the event. These candidates are fully registered to run in the mayoral race, and are polling above 5%.

This decision to narrow the field to the most plausible candidates is intended, one organizer told me, to allow “an optimal number of eligible candidates time enough to speak.”

The New York Times, in its story about the 14-candidate forum in June, quoted Rev. Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., who said of the overcrowded stage, “I heard so many voices. There needs to be a winnowing down, so the real, legitimate voices can be heard.”

It is important that voters have access to well-organized events where they can actually hear what the candidates are saying, and question them about their agendas. This election comes at a time when powerful new political and economic forces are throwing weight around in Oakland, the kind of weight that may alter the future of Oakland irreversibly.

All candidates not eligible for the event have been invited as guests and are welcome to bring election materials.

The Temple

Temple Sinai as it stands today was constructed in 1914, but the congregation was formed in 1875, making it the oldest in the East Bay. It is a Reform Synagogue, and Senior Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, along with the many volunteers involved, have made it a priority to host these local political and cultural events for Oakland.

As Rabbi Mates-Muchin said, “Our members are actively engaged in ‘tikkum olam’–repairing the world–through numerous social action efforts.” Members of the synagogue tutor Oakland students, collect food for the Alameda County Food Bank, and work with churches and The Islamic Cultural Center in Oakland to increase interfaith understanding in the community.

“The reform movement has always championed social action,” said Rabbi Mates-Muchin. “That has always been a significant piece of how we engage in the greater community.”

In the 1960s, the Synagogue had an opportunity to relocate to a new property in the Oakland hills, but the congregation determined that its current uptown location was integral to their engagement in the community.

“We wanted to stay an urban congregation, we wanted to be here because this is our community,” said Rabbi Mates-Muchin, “we have a long tradition of partnership with various groups in Oakland and with Oakland itself, and this [event] is one of our ways of trying to demonstrate our support and commitment to Oakland.”

All are welcome at the event on Thursday, which starts at 7 p.m.  If you want to learn more about the candidates and the issues before the forum, check out Oakland Wiki’s Election Portal, and the non-partisan OakMayor2014 web portal.

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3 Responses

  1. Pablo Marx

    It’s fucked up that Eric James Anderson supports the exclusion of ballot qualified candidates from public debates because he feels too many choices will lead to voter apathy! The opposite is true—too few choices and members of the press who think they can predetermine who is electable are one major cause of voter apathy. Since when did Oakland Local become the arbiter of which candidates should be heard based on some unknown poll?

    Reply
  2. Joe Truman

    Thanks for spelling my name correctly. Almost everyone (even me most of the time) spells it Tuman. Your attention to detail is appreciated.

    Reply
  3. r2d2II

    Mainstream media KQED/Musiker dominating the democratic process once again, snuffing out a wide range of opinions, limiting debate and boring thoughtful voters to death.

    If one listens to the thoughts of the disqualified candidates, one can learn a lot about the reality of political life in Oakland. The “disqualified” are well qualified to tell it like it is.

    The “qualified” candidates, for the most part, are very good at telling not-too-bright audiences exactly what they want to hear. Many of these “qualified” ones have long histories in city hall of accomplishing absolutely nothing.

    These “debate” formats do not allow for meaningful discussion of the political issues in Oakland. They are not real debates. So we are unlikely to make good decisions about whom to vote for.

    Article would be better titled “why nothing will ever change in Oakland.”

    Democratic politics works, sometimes, when issues are discussed at length, openly

    Reply

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