When I first blogged about Jean Quan running for Oakland mayor, I didn’t really think she had much of a chance given the fact that her main opponent would be former California State Senate leader Don Perata, who was better funded, well known and had the Democratic machine behind him.
On election night, Quan had just 24 percent to Perata’s 35 percent. In most elections, there would be a run-off election. However, this was Oakland’s first election that had ranked-choice voting, where voters not only voted for their first choice pick, but also their second and third place choice – which would eliminate the need (and expense) and shorten the time to determine the winner if no one candidate received over 50 percent of the vote.
During the campaign season, Quan actively campaigned that everyone NOT vote for Perata for second or third choice – “Anyone but Don” was her rallying cry. On Wednesday, the results from ranked-choice voting was finalized, and Quan proved to be a more popular second and third choice among supporters of the other eight candidates. In the end, she had 51 percent of the vote to Perata’s 49 percent. And no one is more shocked, disappointed and disgruntled than Perata.
Quan ran a grass roots campaign, had a lot less money (Perata spent up to five to seven times the amount Quan spent), and actively courted supported the community as well as tried to win over her opponent’s supporters through ranked-choice voting.
She is the first woman and Asian American mayor of Oakland. In fact, I think Quan may be the first Asian American mayor of a major city in the United States with over 400,000 residents. Coincidentally, State Senator Leland Yee announced on the same day that he was running for mayor of San Francisco since Gavin Newsom will be vacating the office a year early to become Lt. Governor of California.
All of this said, I am not sure why one would ever want to be mayor of Oakland or governor of California – they each have their intractable problems. But I honestly hope that Quan can make some strides in improving the lives of Oakland’s residents better. Congratulations to Jean Quan – I look forward to following her in the coming years, hopefully making Oakland a better place to live.