By Ken Epstein
District 3 Councilmember Lynette McElhaney appears to have the necessary votes to become the next president of the Oakland City Council.
Councilmembers will elect the new president and vice mayor at the swearing in ceremony for new Oakland elected officials Monday at the Paramount Theater.
The president chairs council meetings, hands out committee assignments and has considerable control over the council’s agenda.
Former Council President Pat Kernighan, who is retiring from public office, told the Post she believes McElhaney has sufficient votes to be elected and is the best person for the job.
“I would predict that Lynette will be elected president,” Kernighan said. . “If I were still on the council, I would vote for her.”
“Of all the councilmembers, she’s best able to pull people together in a team,” said Kernighan. “She has great leadership skills, and she knows how to be inclusive. She has vision – she looks ahead to where the council is going, seeing what issues are important to the city.
District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb also backed McElhaney- “I think she will be the next president of the council. I support that. I think she’ll do a fine job.”
“I think she’s been very thoughtful on the range of the issues that the council has dealt with during the last couple of years,” he said. “She’s willing to listen to a range of perspectives on key issues. I think she cares very much about the city.”
Most councilmembers did not seem to be swayed by recent criticisms that have surfaced against McElhaney but emphasized what she has accomplished during the two years she has been on the council and her willingness to seek unity in the interests of the city and its residents.
McElhaney said she and staff are resolving the issues raised in the media concerning her reporting of her financial statements.
“I’m supporting Lynette,” said District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid, adding that he was the one who encouraged her to run to become president of the council.
“When we went through the budget process, she led the effort to put together the ‘all-in budget,” he said. “She exhibited incredible leadership in getting the budget through the council.”
New Councilmembers, Abel Guillen representing District 2, and Anne Campbell Washington representing District 4, are also reportedly supporting McElhaney.
In addition to the backing of council members, McElhaney has earned the respect of community members. Her herculean efforts were largely responsible for the passage of Measure Z, the publicity safety tax that pays for police and youth services.
She also led the council in its fight over the Waste Management contract renewal by standing up to the national corporation to secure lower rates for homeowners, jobs for Oakland residents and opportunities for a small local business.
District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo told the Post that he respected McElhaney but did not support her for president.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, January 2, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)