Mayoral candidate Dan Siegel has vowed to build a participatory democracy in Oakland, joining progressive populist trend in municipal elections from New York City to Seattle. He announced his campaign on January 9 with a rally reminiscent of the Rainbow Coalition era. The race will be watched closely by those wondering whether Oakland's long tradition of radical movements can be advanced through a Mayor promising to battle and bargain with entrenched interests from outside developers to a police department stained by a brutal reputation. If successful, the Siegel campaign may represent a model for achieving gains for under-represented people in areas with progressive majorities. Siegel's core pledge is to raise the city's minimum wage $12.25/hour.
Like New York, Siegel's insurgent campaign comes in the aftermath of the powerful rise and steady decline of the Occupy movement. In New York, Democrats already are divided between a mayor with a voter mandate to tax the rich for pre-K education and a governor advertising that his state is "open for investment" through tax breaks for the rich. The deepening divide among Democrats is between the Populist-Progressive tradition and that of neo-liberalism introduced in the Clinton era. For Siegel's campaign speech, listen here.