Below is the first in a series of interviews with Oakland mayoral candidates. Today is Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby.
BW: In May 2013 you stated publicly that you would not be a candidate for mayor in 2014. What happened?
CR: "Last year, I started a family, I adopted two boys. A year ago, given where my family was, I didn't think I could do this. A year later because of my family, I feel that I have to do this. The boys are resilient, and I'm resilient. I feel as a city leader and as a mother, the impact violence is having on us, as a city, is unbearable."
BW: Will public safety be a staple for your campaign?
CR: "Absolutely! The mayor's office, not only in this administration, but previous administrations, has been grappling with how to get a handle on crime. We've had multiple police chiefs, we haven't had an effective strategic plan, we haven't had anyone in the mayor's office that can execute a plan. In terms of crime statistics, homicide is down, but burglaries and home invasion are up. We're living in a city where people are scared to come to downtown because of crime or residents are fearful in their own home because of crime. It's unacceptable that the city has been unable to address this effectively.
BW: What would that vision would look like?
CR: "I am going to be focused on public safety every day. I know once we're able to create a safe city, that will create more jobs that will result in a better tax base, which will mean more money for schools. There is no aspect of the city that crime doesn't touch right now. Based on my nearly two terms as city auditor, everything that I do is based on looking at facts, ensuring that we're making decisions that are improving the lives of residents of Oakland by making them safer and reporting out the accurate information on the plans."
BW: Can you say more?
CR: "We're not going to make up facts and figures to suit whatever our political theme is at the time. The residents of Oakland know that we've got a significant crime issue, and they know the infrastructure of the city is crumbling underneath their cars. You've got to tell the truth, you've got to report back how you're going to fix the problem, then you have to monitor it until the problem is addressed. Oakland needs leadership that is going to tell the truth and not bow down to political pressure."
BW: How are you able to address the need for public safety, along with other services, with declining resources?
CR: "We have to put safety first because we do have declining resources. As I alluded earlier, the public safety issue impacts declining resources. As mayor I'm going to spend Oakland's limited tax dollars wisely, demonstrated by my body of work as city auditor. I saved the city over $2 million when I conducted the Community Technology audit. But Oakland cannot expand its economic base until it addresses public safety."
BW: Why would you give up what many would view as a safe seat as city auditor to join a crowed field in the mayoral race?
CR: "As a candidate for mayor I am the only one who has the management experience and has gotten proven results. I have saved taxpayers of Oakland millions of dollars and I have held the city accountable whether it is giving out contracts inappropriately or wasting taxpayer money. I am choosing to run for mayor because of my commitment to Oakland. As a mother and a city leader I have to do this. What's wrong with Oakland is Oakland's government. I have proven that I can go in and fix Oakland's government because I know where the problems are and I possess the management expertise to do it."
Byron Williams is a contributing columnist. Contact him at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.