A tired but exhilarated Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. was all over national television Wednesday, reveling in his victory over 10 opponents in the Oakland mayoral race.
The unofficial final count Wednesday gave Brown 59% of the vote. He needed just 50% plus one to avoid a runoff. His closest rival, urban planning professor Ed Blakely, had 15% of the vote; Shannon Reeves, who runs a nonprofit economic development group, had 7%.
Even before his victory became apparent Tuesday night, Brown threw himself into his next campaign, seeking to qualify a City Charter amendment for the November ballot that would strengthen the mayor's job. A similar effort, spearheaded by current Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, failed two years ago.
Brown, a former governor of California who made three unsuccessful bids for the U.S. presidency, said he has just three weeks to collect 45,000 voter signatures to qualify the amendment for the ballot. His campaign workers collected signatures outside Oakland polling stations Tuesday.
Currently, the mayor's office is largely ceremonial. The city's administration is run by the city manager, who is hired by and accountable to the City Council.
Brown's charter amendment would give the mayor the power to appoint the city manager, with council approval, and would make the manager answerable to the mayor. It also would limit the mayor to two terms in office and bar council members from giving themselves raises without voter approval.
"For the first time, someone elected by the people would have the ultimate authority for the city government," Brown told a TV interviewer Wednesday.
Brown takes office as mayor of one of the state's most ethnically diverse cities in January. He has said his priorities will be lowering the crime rate, improving city schools, employing more city residents on the police force and attracting new retail businesses to downtown Oakland.