The Other Side: A.C. Gonzalez’s Vote Was Never Really in Doubt

There were seven council members willing to vote for someone besides Gonzalez, but they couldn't agree on a candidate

A.C., the C.M.

An update on how the A.C. vote went down: There is still a lot of discrepency between the players involved as to just how possible it was that anyone besides Gonzalez was going to be voted city manager. I said Tuesday that the anti-A.C. side felt it was one vote away from securing enough votes for Oakland administrator Deanna Santana.

But others who were involved in trying to swing votes say that number is only partially true. They say some of the anti-A.C. members were hearing what they wanted to hear. Specifically: they say some anti-A.C. members ignored that even when there were seven people willing to not vote for Gonzalez, it was very unclear that those seven would agree to back Santana or the other candidate, David Cooke.

“They were one vote from having enough people not voting for A.C.,” says a source, “but I don’t think there was any way they were going to agree where that vote should go. Too many people still disagreed on who else could do the job.”

Some council members still disagree, saying that the mayor could have convinced them once had he worked harder to broker a deal. But the mayor’s defenders say that many council members simply felt Gonzalez had the strongest interview of the three, and that performance carried a lot of weight with possible swing votes.


  • Tim Rogers

    I’m just sad that we never got to see this thing develop the way it could have. “Deanna Santana Forever.” She’s an average city manager by day and a famous recording artist by night.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    My personal opinion is that Rawlings’ mandate from day one was to ensure that Gonzalez ended up in the post. However, he had to create the illusion of genuine debate and deliberative process: stir things up just enough to create the appearance of uncertainty, all the while keeping close watch of the process to ensure that no other candidate would ever have a realistic shot at the appointment.

    Again, just my opinion.

  • Tim Rogers

    Who would give him this mandate? Suhm? And why would he feel compelled to follow her orders? I like where your head is at, but I want to see you explore the studio space a little more on this one.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    I suspect Rawlings’ backers (the folks who got him to run: DCC, etc.) instructed him to make sure Gonzalez got the job, but make it look like there was some sort of legitimate, competitive process involved.

    The narrative that Rawlings, I highly skilled corporate and private equity executive with decades of experience somehow bumbled around and couldn’t figure out how to get a divided City Council to back an alternate candidate, thereby thwarting his quest for change doesn’t seem credible. Rawlings could have made this happen, but none of the major players were keen on the idea of any outsiders with fresh ideas coming in and shaking things up.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Just to reiterate, the appointment of a new City Manager was Rawlings’ single most important task as Mayor. The outcome was EXACTLY what his backers wanted and I believe Rawlings made it happen in a way that leaves him looking like an innocent bystander, when he was anything but that.

  • Tim Rogers

    Very interesting theory, Wylie. VERY interesting. Your theory, however, presupposes that Rawlings will run again. No? The accepted wisdom has been that he is not currently jazzed about the notion.

  • Avid Reader

    Did Custer die at Little Bighorn?

  • Michael

    Tim, your theory presupposes that leaders always make decisions for which they agree. As you know, that’s nonsense.

  • jfpo

    Wylie has right, although diplomatically put. Rawlings is a Citizen’s Council front man. The real council doesn’t want an outsider mucking things up vis-a-vis Mike Miles. The “debate” was nothing more than a sorry charade.

  • Adnan Ahmed
  • Wylie H Dallas

    I actually believe that the primary purpose of installing Rawlings was to ensure that the replacement of Mary Suhm following her resignation was managed “properly.” Now that that task has been accomplished, Rawlings can decline to run for another term (and he has privately made it clear that he does not want to run again).