Left turn?

Civil rights attorney Dan Siegel launches Oakland mayoral campaign

Dan Siegel, left, and Jean Quan will face off in Oakland’s 2014 mayoral race.
AP Images file photos


Dan Siegel, an Oakland civil rights attorney and activist with a long history of working with radical leftist political movements, joined a group of more than 150 supporters in front of Oakland City Hall on Jan. 9 to announce his candidacy for mayor.

With this development, the mayor's race in Oakland is sure to be closely watched by Bay Area progressives. Siegel's bid represents a fresh challenge from the left against Mayor Jean Quan at a time when concerns about policing, intensifying gentrification, and economic inequality are on the rise.

Siegel is the latest in a growing list of challengers that includes Joe Tuman, a political science professor who finished fourth in the 2010 mayor's race; Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf; and Port Commissioner Bryan Parker.

In a campaign kickoff speech emphasizing the ideals of social and economic justice, Siegel laid out a platform designed "to make Oakland a safe city." But he brought an unusual spin to this oft-touted goal, saying, "We need people to be safe from the despair and hopelessness that comes from poverty and long-term unemployment. We need safety for our tenants from unjust evictions and ... gentrification."

Siegel voiced support for raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also called for shuttering Oakland's recently approved Domain Awareness Center, a controversial surveillance hub that integrates closed circuit cameras, license plate recognition software, and other technological law enforcement tools funded by a $10.9 million grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

He spoke about pushing for improvements in public education "to level the playing field between children from affluent backgrounds and children from poor backgrounds," and described his vision for reorganizing the Oakland Police Department to foster deeper community engagement.

Among Siegel's supporters are East Bay organizers with a deep history of involvement in social justice campaigns. His campaign co-chair is Walter Reilly, a prominent Oakland National Lawyers Guild attorney who said he's been involved with civil rights movements for years. "This is a continuation of that struggle," Reilly told the Bay Guardian, adding that leadership affiliated with "a progressive and class-conscious movement" is sorely needed in Oakland.

Left Coast Communications was tapped as Siegel's campaign consultant. Siegel's communications director is Cat Brooks, an instrumental figure in Occupy Oakland and the grassroots movement that arose in response to the fatal BART police shooting of Oscar Grant, whose Onyx Organizing Committee is focused on racial justice issues.

Olga Miranda, an organizer with San Francisco janitors union, SEIU Local 87, also spoke on Siegel's behalf during the kickoff event. "San Francisco has become for the rich, and we understand that," she said. "But at the same time, Oakland isn't even taking care of its own."

Referencing a recent surge in Oakland housing prices due in part to an influx of renters priced out of San Francisco, she added, "Dan understands that if you live in Oakland, you should be able to stay in Oakland."

Siegel's decision to challenge Quan for the Mayor's Office has attracted particular interest since he previously served as her legal advisor, but their relationship soured after a public disagreement.

In the fall of 2011, when the Occupy Oakland encampment materialized overnight in front of Oakland City Hall, Siegel resigned from his post as Quan's adviser over a difference in opinion about her handling of the protest movement. Police crackdowns on Occupy, which resulted in violence and the serious injury of veteran Scott Olsen and others, made national headlines that year.


During Ron Dellums's term, everyone said "Damn. He's the worst mayor in this city's history. How could things get any worse?" Then came Jean Quan and now everyone says "She's the worst mayor in this city's history. She's even worse than Dellums. Things couldn't get any worse." Ladies and gentlemen, elect Dan Siegel and watch Oakland devolve into the West Coast's Detroit: no jobs, businesses fleeing, criminals running rampant, and property values in the toilet.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

Go ahead and elect this guy Oakland, and while ou're at it why not just shoot yourself in the foot? Change is happening, as Marx wrote, or was it Hegel? Inexorable change. Change for the better. Go back and study Brooklyn the last twenty years. Would anyone in Brooklyn really want to reverse that progress? Of course, but a small minority, no pun intended. If Oaklanders were smart they'd elect a right-wing, business oriented Republican and get the tax base up. Gentrification: I love that word! Progress: you may be able to impede, but you can't stop. This guy, whom I know absolutely nothing about but from what I'm reading is about the worst candidate possible. OK, granted, they'll be more free milk for children, and more free soup for homeless along with relaxed laws for criminal offenders but seriously, unless you're some graying old hippie longing for the good ol' days, come to your senses. Did I mention gentrification is good? Especially if you're a law abiding member of a minority. is there a problem with our home values going up? Is there a problem with safer streets? Is there a problem with increased law enforcement? Is there a problem with better schools? Is there a problem with a cleaned up and thriving downtown? Not in these eyes. Oaklanders, you've been absolutely played for way, way too long.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

Domain Awareness Center, that sounds like reason enough to elect him just for that.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 16, 2014 @ 11:15 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 7:27 am
Posted by Greg on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 7:57 am

I merely assumed that was why you support him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:11 am

Police have a long record of being anti-resident and they are doubling down on that hatred for and suspicion of civilians.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:36 am

Most of us respect the police for protecting us from the criminals.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 10:42 am

not a criminal. I also don't feel protected by the police.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 10:59 am

So long as more citizens are killed by criminals than cops killed by protecting us from criminals, I won't feel protected by the police.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

How enlightened, liberal and tolerant of you?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

How authoritarian of you.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

Every time.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

technically you think you are not a crook.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

I know that I'm not a crook and I can think for myself. You suffer from a bad case of faulty reasoning.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

Those who hate on cops are either crooks or supportive of and sympathetic to crooks.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

As your hero Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook."

The only good cop that lives is a bad cop that keeps his mouth shut.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

The residents there should kiss the ground those cops walk on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

A guy who says someone else's viewpoint is as narrow as a pinhole goes on to say: "The only good cop that lives is a bad cop that keeps his mouth shut." Don't you have an FTP march to go to where you take a stand against "The Man" by hitting a waiter in the head with a hammer?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

Left Coast Communications? Stick a fork in Seigel, he's toast.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:44 am

The place is doomed anyway. If it wasn't next to SF, it would be Detroit already.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 10:43 am

"Im from the 60s and Im here to help."

I wonder what he would have thought as a young adult if someone came to People's Park talking about how they were "a proud 1910's radical" and how we need to get back to that spirit.

The 1960s UC Berkeley crew has had more than enough time to get Oakland right and they just cant. Time to turn a new page.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

You got it all wrong. It wasn't that the 60s Berkeley crew couldn't fix Oakland's problems, it's BECAUSE of them that Oakland has all these problems.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

Progressives have a SPECTACULAR track record of failure of leadership in Oakland (and everywhere else too for that matter). So why not double down on terrible policies and broken ideology to fix this unfixable mess?

It's like the city hit rock bottom with Quan, and now they're asking for a shovel so they can make the hole deeper. Unbelievable.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

Hey, Vallejo and Stockton are emerging from that, and Detroit may yet come good.

The crucial ruling was with the Detroit BK - the pensions and healthcare contracts with city workers could be reneged upon. That is vital for rebuilding any city.

Oakland needs to get worse before it can get better, and a good crisis is crucial. Either Quan or Siegel can be relied upon to flush Oakland down the crapper. Bring it on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

You would know that Quan was a ranked choice win according to them, now that she is a complete fail on all levels the city needs to make a left turn?

Posted by maybe a guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

LIU for Mayor of Oakland 2014, I can defeat all other candidates on less than $1,000.

Posted by Peter on Feb. 16, 2014 @ 12:22 am

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