Former Congressman, Civil Rights Activist Ron Dellums For Oakland Mayor





Exit one political heavyweight: former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Enter another: longtime Bay Area congressman and civil rights crusader Ron Dellums.

Exit one political heavyweight: former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Enter another: longtime Bay Area congressman and civil rights crusader Ron Dellums.

For a city plagued with failing schools, high crime and nagging poverty, Oakland has managed to attract two consecutive political icons willing to serve as mayor.

Brown, 67, will be termed out of office at the end of next year and has announced a run for state attorney general. Dellums, who retired from Congress in 1998 after 13 terms, declared his mayoral candidacy Friday during an emotional rally at Oakland's Laney College.

Insisting that he had not yet made up his mind about running when he arrived at the packed college theater, the trim and silver-haired Dellums teased the crowd for nearly an hour before finally announcing: "If Ron Dellums' running for mayor gives you hope, then let's get on with it."

The audience, peppered with nearly equal numbers of young and old, roared and broke into chants of "Run, Ron, Run!"

Dellums, 69, then called on his supporters to make a statement by turning out in force for June's mayoral election.

"Let's make the turnout for the Oakland election more powerful than the turnout for the presidential election," Dellums said. "Let's make Oakland a model city."

A Marine veteran and former Berkeley city councilman first elected to Congress in 1971 as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, Dellums enters a crowded field of contenders.
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But Oakland-born Dellums' hometown credentials are considered impeccable. His grandfather, C.L. Dellums, was Bay Area leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union. Dellums lists his mother's address in Oakland on his voter registration. He tells stories of playing football in the then-safe city streets.

"He's really like the prodigal son," said Brown University historian Robert O. Self, author of a 2003 book on race and politics in Oakland.


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