Chamber Spends Load on Oakland Races 

A prominent Oakland business group has spent nearly $100,000 in the final weeks of the campaign trying effect the outcome of three June 3 city council races. OakPAC, the political arm of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, has blanketed the city with glossy mailers and billboards supporting its favored candidates and attacking their foes in District Three, District Five, and the at-large race, newly released campaign finance records show.

OakPAC spent a considerable amount of its money — at least $32,898 -- on a series of attack ads, targeting longtime Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, who represents District Three, West Oakland and downtown. OakPAC, which is dominated by developers and local businesses, has endorsed political neophyte Sean Sullivan in his campaign against Nadel. Nadel is the most liberal member of the council and is not well liked by developers, because she has fought to maintain industrial blue collar jobs in areas of West Oakland that developers want to turn into housing. Apparently, OakPAC's pro-development forces in the chamber won out over the industrial businesses and the chamber itself, because the chamber strongly supported the successful attempts by Nadel and Mayor Ron Dellums to protect West Oakland industrial land.

OakPAC also has shelled out at least $39,836 attempting to re-elect Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who represents District Five, Fruitvale and Glenview. The lion's share -- $29,957 -- went to mailers and billboards supporting the council president. OakPAC spent the rest, $9,879, on literature opposing De La Fuente's main challenger, Fruitvale real estate agent Mario Juarez. Two of the more influential OakPAC members are Carlos Plazola, a lobbyist for developers and former chief of staff for De La Fuente, and Ana Chretien, owner of ABC Security and longtime close friend of the council president.

Finally, the group spent at least $23,024 trying to elect former city planning commissioner Clinton Killian to the council's at-large seat. OakPAC's support of Killian, who is also a former member of the AC Transit board of directors, is somewhat unusual, because historically, the group has backed candidates favored by state Senate boss Don Perata. In this race, Perata is supporting his former chief of staff, Kerry Hamill. Killian, however, is pro-development and has been critical of Dellums' staffers whom he believes have attempted to block a planned Fruitvale condo project financed by one of Plazola's clients.

Author's Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified District Three, West Oakland-downtown, as District One. District One is North Oakland-Rockridge.

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