Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Updated: Report: De La Fuente to Push Ranked-Choice Voting Repeal at Council

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 10:59 AM

It looks like an anti-ranked-choice-voting group with close ties to ex-state Senator Don Perata’s campaign manager has already abandoned its signature-gathering drive in Oakland, just days after we wrote about it. Instead, the leader of the group told the Oakland Tribune late last week that Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, a longtime close friend and ally of Perata’s, will ask the city council to put the proposed repeal of ranked choice voting on the November ballot. However, De La Fuente did not confirm that he would do so, and it appears that he doesn't have the necessary votes on the council.

Ignacio De La Fuente
  • Ignacio De La Fuente
De La Fuente is a staunch opponent of ranked choice voting; he worked with Perata in 2010 in an attempt to block Oakland from using it, even though 69 percent of city voters had approved the voting system. Perata has blamed ranked choice voting for why he lost the 2010 mayor’s race to Jean Quan. Perata received more first place votes than Quan did, but she garnered far more seconds and thirds, enabling her to win the race under the new voting system.

Earlier this month, Melquis Naveo, an employee of Perata’s 2010 campaign manager, Larry Tramutola, told the Express that his group was forging ahead with a signature-gathering effort to qualify the anti-ranked-choice measure for the November election. But then last Friday, Naveo told the Trib that the group instead had decided to depend on De La Fuente to take it directly to the council. Naveo acknowledged that his group, which was originally launched by Tramutola, was not going to be able to gather the required 20,000 signatures to make the ballot.

If De La Fuente does push the proposal to the council, however, he does not appear to have the votes he would need. In addition to himself, Councilmembers Larry Reid, Desley Brooks, and Jane Brunner have expressed opposition to ranked choice voting in the past. But Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan, Pat Kernighan, and Nancy Nadel have strongly supported the voting system. In addition, Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, who won election in 2010 when ranked choice voting was used for the first time in Oakland, said in an interview today that she will not vote to put the measure on the ballot. As a result, the council appears to be deadlocked 4-4, which means the measure will probably fail, because Quan, a strong ranked-choice-voting proponent, would cast the tie-breaking vote against.

The Trib also reported that Brunner plans to bring forward to the council a separate ballot measure being pushed by Naveo’s group that would establish term limits for city councilmembers. This proposal, however, is much less controversial — although Reid told the Trib he will oppose it.

  • Tramutola
Finally, it should be noted that Tramutola has a financial interest in seeing both ballot measures pass. If ranked-choice voting is repealed, then Oakland will go back to having June primaries in addition to November runoffs, which means there will be more elections, and thus more campaigns, for Tramutola to work on. Also, term limits will result in more competitive city council races, which will provide him with additional opportunities to be hired as a campaign manager.

Update: This post was updated with the fact that Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said today that she will vote against putting the ranked-choice-voting repeal on the ballot.

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