Political Notebook: Gay former transit planner Logan runs for Oakland council

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023
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Warren Logan is running for the District 3 seat on the Oakland City Council. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
Warren Logan is running for the District 3 seat on the Oakland City Council. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

A gay man who oversaw mobility issues in both San Francisco and Oakland is running to unseat from office next November Oakland District 3 City Councilmember Carroll Fife. West Oakland resident Warren Logan will officially launch his campaign with a community event next week.

"I didn't come to this decision lightly, and I didn't come to it quickly either," Logan, 34, told the Bay Area Reporter during a phone interview October 30. "A good portion of this year I spent connecting with neighbors, business owners, even visitors, to ask people what is it they are looking for in leadership in the city."

What most people told him, said Logan, is there "is some leadership deficit" currently in Oakland City Hall. He determined the race on the November 2024 ballot for the council seat was an "opportunity to help" the city he has called home for a decade.

"People are really unhappy with the direction of the city," said Logan, who bought his home three years ago with his husband, Jeff Clare, an environmental attorney. "After talking to people about the experiences they had during COVID, when I was one of the city's emergency directors, a lot of people are responsive to, and I would say supportive of, what I can bring to the table."

Logan, who had served as former Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf's policy director of mobility and interagency relations, oversaw setting up the city's first COVID testing sites. He was also responsible for its slow streets program launched during the pandemic.

"A lot of people remember, and frankly miss, the programs I put together during the pandemic and are looking for that type of leadership," Logan said.

He left his city job in December 2021, as Schaaf was entering her last year in office due to term limits, to become a partner at Lighthouse Public Affairs. Last November, he joined Progress Public Affairs. As a first-time candidate for public office, Logan is largely focused on his campaign though he is consulting part-time for his firm.

The San Diego native had moved to the Bay Area after graduating from Occidental College in 2011 with a B.A. in urban and environmental studies to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley. While interning with the city of Berkeley as a transportation planner, Logan earned his master's degree in city planning, transportation planning, and urban design. After graduating in 2013, he landed a job with a design firm and was then hired by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in late 2016 as a senior transportation planner.

"Having worked as a city planner for so many years, I try to place myself wherever the need is and what my set of skills can help," Logan said when asked about why he had chosen to enter a race against an incumbent.

In an emailed reply Monday, Fife told the B.A.R. she is running for reelection to a second four-year term. She noted she had filed all of her paperwork to do so but has yet to officially launch her campaign.

"I will announce once I get some extended family affairs in order," said Fife, one of the more progressive members of the council who was a co-founder of the affordable housing advocacy group Moms for Housing.

After the latest redistricting process, the District 3 seat now includes West Oakland, the city's port, most of Jack London Square, Old Oakland, and parts of downtown, Adams Point, and areas west of Lake Merritt.

"It is a big district with lots of different people, lots of different homes, and lots of different businesses," said Logan, who has lived in several of its neighborhoods over the last 10 years.

Logan announced his candidacy October 26 to be elected as the East Bay city's first African American LGBTQ leader to serve on the council and the third male out councilmember of color. The last was Abel Guillén, who identifies as two spirit and lost his 2018 reelection bid for the District 2 council seat to Nikki Fortunato Bas, now council president.

Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan was the first openly gay man to serve on the Oakland City Council when he was appointed in 2000. Currently, there are two out women on the council, queer District 4 Councilmember Janani Ramachandran and lesbian at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is up for reelection next fall.

"One of the main reasons I chose to live in Oakland is I felt really represented and it continues to represent the intersections of my identity being both a Black and a gay man in California," said Logan, who said he was bullied as a kid. "It is something so dear to me and it is really wonderful to have the feeling that my identity is celebrated."

Among his top priorities are addressing public safety, affordable housing, and public transit. Logan said he came home a few weeks ago to find someone had thrown a brick through one of his home's windows.

When he couldn't get through to the city's police department to file a report, he did so online.

"We need leaders able to respond quickly. It is not enough to have right answers," said Logan. "You need to be able to work with a lot of competing stakeholders and get to a solution quick. I bring that to the table."

He demurred when asked if he supports the recall effort to remove Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, a progressive elected last year, telling the B.A.R. he is focused on his own campaign. Safety is a main reason for why many people he knows has moved out of Oakland recently, said Logan, who stressed solutions to the problem won't come from leaders who are fighting among themselves.

"I can understand D.A. Price's frustration with our police department. I can also understand our police department's frustration with Pamela Price," said Logan. "At the end of the day we need to stop trading barbs against each other. We need to be working together, because it is not just one person's responsibility to fix the entire county's criminal system, criminal justice system."

While he wouldn't say who his number one pick for Oakland mayor was in last fall's election, only that Mayor Sheng Thao was among his ranked choice votes, Logan did tell the B.A.R. he wants to see the city's leader succeed.

"No one wins when our mayor is not successful," he said. "I don't do better if she is not successful. I live in Oakland and I want to see our mayor be successful in her term."

One proposal he backs, and would look at replicating in District 3 if elected as its councilmember, is having Oakland establish the Lakeshore LGBTQ Cultural District northeast of Lake Merritt where a number of queer-owned businesses and the city's LGBTQ community center are located. The city council is set to vote on it at its November 7 meeting.

With myriad LGBTQ-owned establishments also now located in downtown Oakland, which has seen a number of queer-run nightlife venues open of late, Logan told the B.A.R. there is an opportunity for Oakland to create several LGBTQ districts, as San Francisco has three such designated areas.

"I am really excited the city is thinking about making that district," said Logan. "I also have spoken to LGBTQ businesses in my district in Uptown and downtown that are also looking for support in lots of different ways. In addition to every other business downtown that is really hurting right now."

Logan's campaign launch party will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, November 9, at 7th West. The bar, restaurant, and events space is located at 1255 Seventh Street near the West Oakland BART Station.

To learn more about his candidacy, visit his campaign website.

Lee, Porter pick up LGBTQ support

Congressmembers Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) both picked up prominent supporters within the LGBTQ community this week as they seek to succeed the late U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein next year. Earlier in the year Feinstein, who died in late September at the age of 90, had announced she wouldn't seek reelection in 2024.

And lesbian U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler (D-California), appointed to fill the vacancy, disclosed to the New York Times last month she wouldn't seek a full term. It was seen as a boost for Lee, who has trailed Porter and Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) in polling and fundraising, in not having to run against a fellow Black woman.

Monday, gay Congressmember Robert Garcia (D-Long Beach) announced he was backing Porter in the race. As Politico noted, he is the first member of the state's congressional delegation to do so. (The state's other gay congressmember, Mark Takano of Riverside, is backing Schiff.)

Tuesday, Lee touted in a news release her receiving the endorsements of two more "storied LGBTQ+ clubs" — the San Diego Democrats for Equality and the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club. They join the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club in backing Lee, as the B.A.R.'s online Political Notes column first reported last month.

"I have always been willing to stand up and defend the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, and I will honor these endorsements by continuing that fight in the United States Senate," stated Lee.

Lexi Reese, formerly an executive at Google and the HR platform Gusto, is also running for the seat on the Democratic side, as is Christina Pascucci, a longtime Los Angeles television journalist. Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey has also jumped into the race.

Only the top two finishers regardless of party affiliation in the March 5 primary will move on to the ballot next November to compete for a full six-year term in the Senate seat. The candidates are expected to enter the race that will also be on the March ballot to complete Feinstein's term through January 3, 2025, with the top two vote-getters of that contest competing on next fall's ballot.

Though the winner will only serve for less than two months, it could provide them more seniority in the Senate if they also are elected to the full term that will run through January 3, 2031.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on a list of historic LGBTQ tees.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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