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Oakland Mayor's Race

Oakland commissioner asked Taylor to take open Seat 3 while Ramos became mayor in show of “unity” for town

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Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Saturday, February 24, 2024


Andrea Charur

Oakland Town Commissioner/Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield said that mayoral candidate Shane Taylor took his phone call "the wrong way." Taylor responded, How else is someone supposed to take that type of conversation?"

Updated Feb. 25, 2024 to reflect additional comment by Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield. 

Two weeks ago, an Oakland town commissioner reached out to mayoral candidate Shane Taylor and asked him to take the open Seat 3 commission seat while Commissioner Sal Ramos became mayor in the March 19 election.

Taylor did not identify the commissioner who contacted him, but VoxPopuli determined that it was Vice Mayor and Ramos supporter Mike Satterfield who made the call.

In a Friday phone interview, Taylor said he was “shocked” to receive Satterfield’s phone call.

“[He’d] never called me before. What is he calling me about? The call was Hey, I was talking to Sal, and we were thinking there’s a lot of division going on in the town and to show some unity, you take the commission seat and Sal becomes the mayor. And it was like Wow, I can't believe you're asking that.”

Taylor said that he turned Satterfield down and was fully committed to becoming mayor.

Reached by phone Friday, Satterfield confirms talking with Ramos about brokering a meeting between the candidates to talk about “how you guys could run together somehow or another on a platform of what's good for Oakland.”

Satterfield said the Facebook drama was “killing me,” a reference to the We Are Oakland Facebook group where Oaklanders have not been shy about sharing often-barbed opinions about the candidates running in the mayoral election. 

“People say things that they would not normally say to your face on a Facebook page,” Satterfield said. “And it was just getting out of hand. There's nothing against Shane at all. That’s what elections are for. What I am against is all the people that are behind Facebook saying Sal has done this or Shane has done that. To be honest with you, it makes us all look bad.”

Satterfield denies asking Taylor to step aside in favor of Ramos. “I did not ask him that. Shane took it the wrong way,” the vice mayor said.

“I said, Here's the deal: We have a commission seat that we've got to do something with once we get done, and we have a mayor election going on with all the controversy that's going on on Facebook, which is horrible. I thought maybe you two could talk and work something out, and I don't care which way it was to go. Even Sal, if it's for the betterment of the town that he's a commissioner, he's willing to do whatever to do what's right for this town.”

But a Taylor campaign volunteer who was with Taylor when he took Satterfield's call doesn’t remember it that way. The volunteer told VoxPopuli in a Friday phone interview that Taylor had the call on speaker, and that they heard the conversation. The volunteer did not want to share their name because the mayoral election has become so divisive in the town, they did not want to “call attention” to themselves.

“He said These campaigns are really creating division, and we really feel that if we can create a united front, there’s two positions available — the mayor’s and the commissioner’s seat,” the campaign volunteer recalled. “We were thinking that if one of you dropped out of the race, the other would be mayor. Then he went on, We can make a poster with both of your faces, and we can have the slogan “This is how Oakland unites” or This is how Oakland comes together.” He had some slogan already kind of put together for this poster that they had envisioned that was going to go up around town.”

The campaign volunteer said that when Taylor responded that he was all in on mayor and “not looking for anything else but to be mayor, the commissioner, in a disappointed way, was like Oh, you are. Well, then I guess you’re not interested. And Shane was like, No, I’m not interested in dropping out of the race.

Taylor confirmed that when he pushed for clarification on which of the two candidates would be mayor in Satterfield's scenario, the vice mayor said, "Well, Sal will be mayor."  

Asked to comment, Ramos sent this response early Saturday morning via text: “Mike called me and asked me about talking to Shane, and there was nothing about dropping out of the race. The conversation he wanted me to have with him was to tell both sides of the people to be polite on FB and run a good race, stop the rumors and unnecessary nasty remarks because it was making Oakland look bad. I do not want lasting friendships broken up in or (sic) town because of this election.”

This entire episode has Taylor wondering what other “gentlemen’s agreements” exist between commissioners.

"This is the problem with our current town leadership. The integrity is not there,” he said. “It makes me question, if they’re doing this, what other conversations and promises are being made behind closed doors? This shows me that they are basically picking and choosing. You know, they’re not kingmakers. They’re not kingmakers. You can’t do this. This is not how it works.”

On Saturday, when asked if he wanted to offer a rebuttal, Satterfield sent this text message: "Noreen, (sic) for my final statement on this issue I did not call Mr. Taylor to ask him to leave the race, nor did I suggest that. I did not suggest I could put him in commission seat 3 as I am in no position to insure (sic) anything like that. Thank you."

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