|English: Promotional photograph of the new City Hall building in Oakland, California, circa 1917. Built in 1914 at a cost of US$2M, "this unique and beautiful building... symbolizes the aspirations and progress of the City." Photograph commissioned by Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Publicity Bureau. Photographer from Cheney Photo Advertising Co. Original photo part of Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room. "Public domain. No restrictions on use." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Sometimes choosing where to invest one's vote - and enthusiasm and cash support - gets confusing when it comes to local elections in a place like Oakland where almost all candidates have similarly progressive views on national issues. In other words, few of the candidates are initially off-putting when one considers their views on nuclear war, women's rights or the border wall even though those views usually matter very little in the greater scheme of things - by which I mean 1) most candidates feel more or less the same way on these issues, and 2) when will they really have an opportunity to act on these values on the local level in a way that is more than symbolic?
Symbolism matters, but Nuclear Free Zones are really just political theater.
Sometimes it's hard to tease out just what the crucial differences are between candidates for - shall we say - the city council because they all seem to be the kind of person you would enjoy having the proverbial beer with - if the discussion stayed on Donald Trump and global warming.
But when it comes to making that final choice regarding - shall we say - how to cast a vote for council, it can be a challenge to figure out just what you're voting for. Local radio, newspapers and TV don't give you much useful information on the concrete question of what candidates would actually do in office. You have to work to get cogent analysis of who actually means what. (Goodby Oakland Tribune. Hello East Bay Times. Thank you East Bay Express.)
Often you have to rely on public candidate forums (with double digit participants), on mailers, on endorsements from advocacy groups and from current office holders and from 'opinion leaders,' those friends and neighbors who don't seem to be completely full of it (appropriate emoji).
Once folk are elected, however, some things start to come clear - if you're paying attention. Where officeholders come down on the question of who will manage the market is an issue that can influence which candidate a voter will support in future elections. This voter anyway.