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Alameda County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Keeping Citizens Relevant In Politics

By Shirley Gee

Candidate for Councilmember; City of Oakland; District 2

This information is provided by the candidate
This Election is "special" in that it will define whether we can retain a strong balance of power between the "strong mayor" and the City Council. More than anytime in our political history, how we vote will determine whether citizens in Oakland will be relevant to the political process or become spectators within that process.
We are in a midst of a mayoral race and the prospect of bringing in a new mayor to Oakland is significant to the District 2. The citizens of District 2 can determine whether there is (or isn't) a real balance of power in City Council. While we may not be able to effect this notion of balance of power in Washington, D. C. where one party has control of legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, we can and have a significant impact on local government. As they say, even though we may not be able to influence national politics, surely we can "sweep our own porch."

Under the "strong mayor" form of government, we will need an even stronger City Council. More importantly, we will need to have a Council that is capable of demonstrating independence from the Executive branch (Mayor's Office).

A strong mayor with 5 votes on the Council does not have to consider opposition or objections. He/she can do pretty much what they want and the public dialogue would become pretty perfunctory. A dangerous proposition when you consider all the development in Oakland coming down the pike.

One only has to see how the Raider deal was handled with 5 votes to know the risk involved in setting into motion a permanent arrangement along these lines.

While this Election may seem somewhat dull and benign, it is important for voters to understand that this Election will decide that "5th" vote. A truly independent candidate unencumbered by "politics as usual" is critical to this equation.

Part of the reason that I am running is to assure that voters are well aware of what is at risk in this Election, fight for legislative independence and to demonstrate that citizens can run for public office and win without special interest money and without the political establishment's endorsements.

Having been in Oakland since 1952, I have a deep understanding of the City's institutional structure and most particularly its political structure. As a civic minded individual, I feel compelled to raise the alarm whenever there is a significant shift in power and to do all that I can to re-install checks and balances.

I offer voters a choice in this matter.

As a past Board of Director with the League of Women Voter, I have a deep appreciation for the mission articulated by the League. After all, I chaired the «harter Amendment change to abolish the appointment process in favor Special Elections so voters could decide who represented them; not the political pundits.

In voting for GEE, voters have an opportunity to select an advocate for transparency in government, more citizen participation in the electoral process; and a more responsible and responsive government.

Furthermore, I want the citizens of Oakland to have a meaningful relationship with their own government. A relationshp that is based on a real opportunity to engage and contribute to the public discourse and dialogue and to have an affect on the ultimate outcome.

I value the participation of average citizens and am encouraged by their civic mindedness. I believe sincerely that only through democratic processes can we arrive at a meaningful solution to existing problems.

Citizens in District 2 need and deserve a leader who has a strong moral center and cannot be co-opted by the allure of power. Someone who has the strength of character to forego personal ambition in favor of always doing the right thing for those whose hopes and aspirations go with her to City Hall.

My relationships and network in this town and outside Oakland run wide and deep and if we are to make positive progress in District 2 (and Oakland), we are going to need all of those relationships from throughout Oakland and outside of Oakland to get things done.

People in City Hall have already had sufficient time to make a significant difference and still we don't have public safety (the first responsibility of government), a good public education program for our children or even a thriving retail business environment where locals can find jobs and citizens can shop.

Surely we can do better.

. . . sometimes it takes a local to solve local issues.

Here I am. Your neighbor . . . Elect Shirley Gee.

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