I happened to mention the bakery Arizmendi in a brief post about electoral politics on Monday. The only stranger I have ever recognized inside Arizmendi is Joe Tuman, a professor at San Francisco State and a regular political analyst on CBS’s local TV and radio news. I wouldn’t typically write about a year-old sighting of a local TV personality, but little did I know when I posted on Monday that I would get a press release the next day saying that Tuman will be announcing his candidacy for Mayor of Oakland at the Lake Merritt pergola on Wednesday. For all I know this is old news to political insiders in Oakland, but it was new news to me.
What do I think about his candidacy? It’s too soon to think much of anything: my own vote is certainly up for grabs, since my feelings about the current crop of candidates range from mild disappointment to horror, but Tuman’s most compelling attribute at the moment is what he lacks—that is, complicity in the fiascos which pass for state and local government in California these days. Tuman comes off as a fairly intelligent and well-spoken guy from the little I’ve seen of him on TV, but there’s more to running a municipal government than being smart and articulate. His website’s “issues and solutions” section is, in my view, unobjectionable but thin. (Increasing the Oakland Police Department’s size by more than 50% to 1100 officers is a nice goal, but on a day when more than 10 percent of Oakland’s police force was laid off, with further layoffs looking likely in a few months, it’ll take more than vague statements about reviewing compensation packages for new hires to convince me that Tuman has any great ideas for reversing the trend.) It’s mildly interesting to listen to him discussing the possibility of police layoffs on KCBS in late June, when he was commenting on city politics in his role as a disinterested analyst while he was presumably planning his entry into the Mayoral race behind the scenes at the same time.
At this point, I feel the same way I did in December: the only prospect that excites me in Oakland’s mayoral race is the possibility (a slim one, but a boy can always dream) that I might be ineligible to vote in it because I’ll no longer live in this mess of a city. There are some things I really like about Oakland—Arizmendi and the Lake Merritt pergola are apparently two that Joe Tuman and I share—but the more I pay attention to the city’s politics, the more disheartened I get. Maybe I’ll walk the dog down to Arizmendi in the morning, then head over to the Lake to see if Tuman has anything new or interesting to say at his press conference.