Francis Kanning Mott (January 21, 1866 – December 16, 1958) was Mayor from 1905-1915, notable for building the heck out of Oakland (such as the current City Hall 7, Oakland Auditorium (later renamed to Kaiser Convention Center) many public schools, and Mosswood Park, among other things); for accommodating the SF earthquake refugees so deftly that reportedly more than half of them later moved here; and for finally prying the hated Carpentier’s bony fingers off of Oakland’s valuable waterfront (something universally desired for 50 years).
As a young man, Mott worked for Western Union Telegraph Company as a clerk and then the first telephone operator in Oakland. He was active in several businesses and created a proto-Chamber of Commerce. Mott was President of the Frank K Mott Company.3
Mott believed that businessmen should be involved in politics and the shaping of the city. He joined the City Council in 1895 by appointment by Mayor Pardee. He was elected again in 1896, and although nominated again in 1897, he returned to business. In 1899 he went back to City Council and represented the First Ward until elected mayor in 1905.2
In 1907, he was appointed a director of the Security Bank and Trust of Oakland.
He became involved in real estate and was a popular and Progressive (capital P not lower case. Today he'd be called a pro-business "good government" type) mayor who "initiated civil service jobs" and "secured adoption of a new city charter." 5 Perhaps motivated by his business interests, Mott wanted Oakland to be recognized nationally, so he improved fire and police departments, public works, parks, and more.6
During his time in public life, he was nominated by the Republicans, but he was endorsed by the Municipal league and the Democrats, as well as that of the Union Labor party.4 When running for re-election for mayor in 1911, Mott ran against Thomas Booth, a socialist in the primaries. Neither won a plurality and there was another election in May.1 Mott won.
"In a fascinating but little-known chapter of Oakland history, Mott survived the city's first recall election, initiated by the radical Industrial Workers of the World, on August 5, 1912, with 17,139 voting in favor of keeping Mott in office, and 10,846 against."
Mott wrote a book, A Review of Municipal Activities in the City of Oakland, California, 1905-1915.
Links and References
- "Mayor Mott Says" - the quotable Mayor Mott
- "Mott and Booth Are Victors in Oakland's Mayoralty Fight." San Francisco Chronicle: April 19, 1911.
- "Frank Kanning Mott." Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol 1. New York: International News Service, 1913.
- "Frank Kanning Mott."
- "Frank Kanning Mott."
- Blackford, Mansel G. The Lost Dream: Business and City Planning on the Pacific Coast, 1890-1920. Ohio State University Press, 1993.
- Blackford, Mansel G.
- Ritter, Jonathan. The American Civic Center: Urban Ideals and Compromise on the Ground. ProQuest, 2007.
- Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific. Tribune Publishing Co: 1898.
- "NAMED PRESIDENT OF OAKLAND'S COUNCIL." San Francisco Chronicle: Apr 7, 1896.