What He Did To Oakland

The first conversation I ever had with Jerry was during my interview to work for the campaign, when he entered the office by surprise and I nearly choked on my coffee.

'Jerry, this is Carly, she's going to be working on our web team,' Schuyler, our volunteer coordinator, told him.

'Carly!' he boomed. 'So nice to meet you!'

I tried to act natural when I shook his hand and he asked me where I was from. I told him I was born in San Francisco but grew up in Hartford, Connecticut.

'Hartford, eh? Kind of a rough place,' he said.

'Yeah, they've been trying to clean it up for years,' I responded, trying (and failing) to make a joke about the 'New England's Rising Star' flags that hang on lampposts all over downtown.

'Kind of like Oakland,' he said. 'What do you think of what I did to Oakland?'

'Jerry, I love what you did to Oakland,' I gushed like a thirteen-year-old at a Jonas Brothers concert.

Truth was, I had no idea what he did to Oakland. But today, my coworker Mike and I took a stroll through Jack London Square on our lunch break, one of the major redevelopment projects the city tackled under Jerry's leadership.

The area is lovely; right on the waterfront. There are kayaks and bikes to rent and sailboats to use. Restaurants like upscale Mexican eatery Cocina Poblana, elegant jazz club Yoshi's, and the appropriately named Scott's Seafood dot the blocks.

There are art galleries and a farmer's market; last week dance classes were offered, and this Thursday Star Trek is playing on the lawn (both events for free!).

A whole community has emerged, embracing the best of what Northern California has to offer. Follow Jack London Square on Twitter and Facebook for more information about upcoming events.

I'm glad what I said to Jerry ended up being the truth, even if I was fibbing that first day we spoke.


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