It was 1992. Before cellphones and the Internet became popular.
Bill Clinton was elected to his first term as president. The same year, Ignacio De La Fuente won a seat on the Oakland City Council.
Nancy Nadel and Jane Brunner followed in 1996.
Now all three are leaving, marking the end of an era in Oakland city politics.
The three have been on the council so long, it's hard to imagine what things will be like without them. De La Fuente lost his gamble to unseat Rebecca Kaplan for the at-large seat. Brunner also overreached in her efforts to defeat interim City Attorney Barbara Parker. Nadel decided not to run again.
Lynette Gibson McElhaney will take over from Nadel in District 3, Noel Gallo succeeds De La Fuente in District 5, and Dan Kalb replaces Brunner in District 1.
One can only hope an infusion of new blood will lead to civility and professionalism on the council, where both have been sorely lacking.
My biggest hope is that under the newly composed council, Oakland will finally make public safety a priority instead of merely paying lip service.
For starters, I'd like to suggest a reality check for each new council member, which I did myself once a while back.
Spend a few hours with the police 911 dispatchers. Just listen and watch. Observe how deluged the officers and dispatchers are with calls for service. The shocking violence occurring in this city on a daily basis -- incidents that
If we are to make any headway in reducing violence, the new council members will have to have the backbone to stand up to the extremists who have repeatedly protested proactive law enforcement proposals, which the current council has in turn shot down.
The result has been a state of paralysis, while people continue to die in the streets.
We heard a lot about right-wing extremism during the presidential and congressional elections.
We have our own version of extremism in Oakland, only it comes from those on the far left.
Their core belief is that the Oakland Police Department is the enemy -- that racist police officers are rampaging through poor neighborhoods in East and West Oakland abusing young African-American and Latino men.
There have been police officers who engaged in misconduct who have poisoned relationships between the police and people living in poor black and Latino communities.
OPD is under a consent decree stemming from the Riders lawsuit in which officers allegedly planted evidence on suspects to make false arrests. The department faces the very real threat of becoming the first police department to be placed into federal receivership because the city has not instituted all of the court-ordered reforms of OPD.
We all know OPD must improve its relationship with the community.
Yet it is also true that many police officers are risking their lives every day to try to make this city a safer place.
It is crazy to suggest, as extremists claim, that the police are responsible for most of the violence in Oakland.
They protest the relatively few police shootings yet turn a blind to eye to the weekly killings on the streets in triple digits now -- mostly of black men by other black men. They don't care entire neighborhoods have been turned into war zones by violent individuals who think nothing about shooting up an entire street to kill a rival.
They pack City Council meetings and scream in protest over proposals for youth curfews and gang injunctions, which they claim unfairly profile minorities.
These strident voices have been allowed to dictate public safety policy in this city for far too long. City officials have shamefully pandered to them while the body count mounts.
What will happen to police Chief Howard Jordan's proposed youth protection ordinance, otherwise known as a curfew?
Both McElhaney and Kalb have said they don't support curfews. Gallo does.
This suggests we may once again be facing a divided council on the issue.
Only time will tell whether we see any meaningful action toward developing a strategic plan for addressing the violence in this city or whether it will be more of the same leaderless status quo.