OAKLAND -- Marcie Hodge, a Peralta Community College District trustee who used a public credit card to charge thousands of dollars worth of personal expenses, wants to be Oakland's next mayor.
Hodge, who lives in East Oakland, is one of 13 people who filed nomination paperwork for the Nov. 2 mayoral election. She said she decided to run because she wasn't impressed with the other candidates.
"We need to usher in new faces, new ideas and people who are intrinsically concerned with the values of those who live in the city of Oakland," she said.
When Hodge first ran for the Peralta board in 2004, she pledged to put an end to wasteful spending.
Years later, her spending as a trustee came under scrutiny.
A Bay Area News Group investigation in 2009 found Hodge had charged $4,460 on a Peralta credit card -- including more than $600 at Las Vegas dress shops in January 2008 -- and that she later reimbursed the college district. The charges were made public by the college district's attorney only after Bay Area News Group threatened to file a Public Records Act lawsuit.
Peralta, which includes Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland, the College of Alameda and Berkeley City College, no longer issues credit cards to its trustees.
In July, a grand jury criticized Hodge and her board colleagues for lax oversight, a lack of transparency and questionable use of public funds.
"Most members of the board were unfamiliar with district policies and the grand jury found the board, as a consequence, often did not follow policies and in some cases ignored them altogether, especially in financial situations and when using credit cards or traveling," the jurors wrote.
Hodge stressed that she repaid all of the charges, and that she had always planned to do so. A state-appointed investigator in 2009 characterized Hodge's credit card use as "a couple of mistakes," rather than a serious ethics violation. Hodge said her intentions were honest, and that she hoped the public would believe her.
"I just apologize for that," she said. "An error was made."
If elected mayor, Hodge said, she would focus on job creation, public safety and education. "I feel I have the leadership capability and the strength to run a city in a way that's fair and democratic and will allow its citizenry to be participatory in the process," she said.
She will face competition for the city's top political seat from a dozen candidates who filed nomination papers, including City Council members Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan and former state Sen. Don Perata.
Others running are Tim Brown, Terence Candell, Arnold Fields, Sharika Gregory, Greg Harland, Donald Macleay, Niki Okuk, Joseph Tuman and Larry Lionel Young Jr.
Staff Writer Matt Krupnick contributed to this story. Read Katy Murphy's Oakland schools blog at www.ibabuzz.com/education.