OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney is the Oakland City Council's next president. The first-term council member was named to head the City Council at a special meeting Monday morning that also included the swearing-in of two new members.
McElhaney’s appointment came without much dissent, despite news reports revealing her participation in an house-flipping scheme related to her non-profit along with unpaid personal taxes.
McElhaney replaces out-going Councilmember Pat Kernighan, who announced her retirement last year. In addition, Abel Guillen was sworn-in to replace Kernighan Monday in District 2, along with Anne Campbell Washington, who takes over in District 4 for new Mayor Libby Schaaf. Newly-elected City Auditor Brenda Roberts also took the oath of office.
In a brief statement following her election, McElhaney said, “These are challenging times in our city and in our country. We are being forced to take a look at what does it mean to be equitable in a society that promise liberty and justice for all. And I know our task ahead of us is not easy.”
Over the past two years, she added, the council has succeeded in raising its professional standard after years of fractious public infighting. “It is my deep conviction that we will make Oakland better, more responsive and more just for all of its citizens,” said McElhaney.
Councilmember Noel Gallo registered the lone no vote against McElhaney’s council presidency, saying it needed someone with experience “that can take us unified to the next level.” He subsequently nominated Councilmember Larry Reid, who later declined. Reid, though, was later
named council president pro tem. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, the former pro tem, is now vice mayor.
No other council member spoke directly in favor of McElhaney, although a number of public speakers lauded her work in West Oakland since being elected to the council in 2012.
Earlier in the morning, Mayor Schaaf was officially given the oath of office by City Clerk Latonda Simmons. Schaaf will again take the oath in public at part of her inauguration festivities scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today at the Paramount Theater.