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Mayor-Elect Brown Wants More Power

June 4, 1998

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Jerry Brown, known many political lifetimes ago as ``Governor Moonbeam″ for his lofty ideas, used his first day as mayor-elect to take his thinking to city streets.

Brown urged voters to help him revise the city charter to give his new office more power.

``In a city as diverse as Oakland, there has to be a unifying force, and an elected mayor with executive authority fills that bill,″ Brown said Wednesday.

Brown, who was elected in a landslide over 10 other candidates Tuesday, wants to transform Oakland into a ``strong-mayor″ city. By morning, petitioners fanned out onto city streets seeking signatures.

Brown and other strong-mayor proponents have 4,000 signatures. They have until June 25 to get 40,000 more to put the proposal on the ballot this fall.

Oakland’s mayor now serves as a member of the City Council, with the appointed city manager wielding much of the day-to-day clout in the city of 396,000 people. Brown, who takes office in January, wants voters in November to give the mayor the power to veto legislation and to hire and fire the city manager.

``It’s more democratic. That’s the key point,″ Brown said. ``The people can elect the one who has authority and is not just a figurehead.″

Oakland voters have rejected three other bids over the past 15 years to give the mayor more power. But Brown’s camp calls his proposal ``more moderate″ than previous measures, and predicted voters would approve.

``I think on certain things the mayor should have more power,″ said Fanny Mohamed, a gift shop owner who did not vote for Brown. ``With his experience, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.″

Brown was governor of California from 1975 to 1983 and ran for president three times, in 1976, 1980 and 1992. He launched his campaign for mayor after moving to Oakland in 1994 _ two years after his third failed presidential bid. He adopted the ``Oaklanders First″ slogan with the symbolic oak tree as his logo and ran his campaign from a warehouse.

Opponents of the strong-mayor proposal include at least one councilman, Dick Spees, who believes it takes power away from the council and ``sets up an imperial mayor.″

Thrift store owner Pamela Drake called Brown ``arrogant″ and already out of touch with Oaklanders, and said he would remain perched on a political throne if the strong-mayor plan were installed.

``If he wants to be this great savior of Oakland, he has to stop playing old-school politics,″ she said. ``He’s going to have to listen to some common-sense solutions instead of squiring himself away in his warehouse.″

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