With Ras Baraka winning his bid for Mayor in Newark, NJ, the focus now turns to all the races set to unfold on June 3rd which is the next big election day for many around the country. Here in the Bay Area a major race for Mayor is unfolding in Oakland with 16 people running for office. People ideally need to be thinking, ‘Who they will they be voting for and why?? ‘
Ideally, our immediate focus should not be on who will win? but instead we should be focusing on what the positions each candidate has staked on key issues? For example , before we start speculating who will win, we should be asking ourselves what are the positions and policies each Mayoral candidates in Oakland has to stem the tide of gentrification? This is especially important when we consider the thousands who have recently moved to Oakland and how its Black population once 60% has dwindled down to around 23% . How and why did that happen?
Let’s be clear there are some candidates who see the new influx especially in historically Black West Oakland as great. They honestly think gentrification often called ‘urban renewal‘ has improved the image and the quality of life for many in the city. Translation: the more white residents the better. Others feel that long time residents are getting the shaft. What plans are in store for Oakland’s next mayor around this issue? What policies can they guarantee as mayor vs falling back on tired excuse that they can only advocate and hope the city council follows their lead?
Ask the candidates how they feel about the photo I posted where many are calling Oakland the New Brooklyn. Other have called Oakland the New San Francisco? Still others have said Oakland is the new Silicon Valley? Newcomers love the new labels. Long time residents hate it and feel like the city’s identity is being thrown under the bus with a marketing make over in which they had little if any input. How do you as an Oakland resident new or old feel about these labels?
How do you feel about Oakland having many of its sections renamed and marketed outside of town ie NOBE (North Oakland, Berkeley) or the new Brooklyn Basin project? Whats their thoughts on WOSP? (West Oakland’s Specific Plan?) More importantly how do the mayoral candidates feel and how have their actions reflected that sentiment? Are they placating new transplants? Again there are thousands of them ,making them a sizeable voting block or are they working with long time residents who don’t wanna leave the city they love?
How do our candidates feel about our sports teams.. The Raiders, the As and the Warriors?? What are they doing to keep them? What are they doing to cut ties? How important is it for you as an Oakland resident to have these teams?
What are the any of these candidates plans for affordable housing? Where do they stand on issues like rent control? How are these candidates dealing with housing discrimination? For those who don’t know, with gentrification has become desireable to only rent to out of towners who are willing to pay more or to rent to Non-Black/ Brown residents.. What are any of these current candidates doing about that?
How are any of these mayoral candidates working to support and grow local businesses. There have always been innovative folks in Oakland who have been applauded all over the world for their being business savvy, yet the city has never recognized them.. In the past we seen city hall try to shut down businesses.. Folks may wanna talk to folks like to long time business owner Geoffrey Pete and ask him about the drama past mayors like Jerry Brown put him through in attempts to disrupt his thriving landmark business.
Currently we have OPD shutting down street vendors who have been a vibrant part of the culture forever. What opportunities are in place for homegrown businesses? Not newly arrived / recruited businesses, but homegrown folks who been here for decades and were never shown love? What opportunities are here for them?
What plans do any of these candidates have for schools? Are they anti teacher’s union and pro charter? Are they for universal pre-school or do they want folks to pay $1500-2000 a month for all these private preschools? Don’t ask these candidates what they are gonna do? Many have who are running have been active in Oakland prior to this year, so ask them what their track record is around education??
Ask them if they are in favor of ‘Teach for America?’, ‘Common Core?‘ “No Child Left Behind ?‘ and Zero Tolerance policies?’ Ask them how they feel about our Community Colleges, CSUs and UC Systems? Are they politically aligned w/ folks who have been trying to privatize these once FREE public school systems and raise tuition or are they pushing to make sure these schools are free and accessible? Check their track record from the past, that’ll tell you a lot…
Where do mayoral candidates stand on jobs and job creation? Ask them if they are aware of the Jackson Rising plan around cooperative economics and if they talked with all the folks from the Bay Area and Oakland in particular who went to the recent conference in Jackson, Ms??
Ask them if they are pushing to make sure there are guarantees that Oakland residents will be hired for any new contracts awarded by the city? What have these candidates pushed for in the past? For example, with the BART extension to Oakland airport, what work did they put in advocating for Oakland residents to be hired? Don’t ask them what they say they are going to do.. Ask them what they did in the past? How did they vote? What letters did they write? What policies did they push? Show and prove..
Ask these mayoral candidates what steps they have taken in the past to protect the image of this city? For example, when the Discovery Channel did a bogus special called ‘Gang Wars in Oakland‘ they claimed the city had 10k gang members and was the murder capital of the world. There are nowhere near 10 thousand gang members and it definitely wasn’t the murder capital. What reaction did any of these candidates have to our tarnished image? How did they confront the Discovery Channel?
When the did the TV special Santa Rita, Oakland suggesting that Santa Rita prison was in oakland vs being in Dublin 30 miles away, what steps did these candidates do to correct that image? When they did the heavily promoted TV show on MSNBC ‘Lockdown Oakland‘ and then profiled violent crimes committed by people living in other cities how did our candidates react? What steps did they take to correct those falsehoods? Did any of these candidates buy into these narratives and call for more police and repressive policies, gang injunctions etc or did they know and love this city enough to know those stories were not only false portrayals but were actually fueled by an embattled police department pushing their own agenda to get more funding and more cops?
How do our candidates feel about the police and what’s their relationship to Oakland’s powerful police union? Do they feel Oakland needs more police? Do they feel the city needs less? What’s their plan to stop police brutality? What advocacy groups have they met with? What policies have they supported or not supported in the past around police reform? Did they show up to City Hall and weigh in when controversial policies like Gang Injunctions and youth curfews were debated? Where did they stand when the city voted to give Chief William Bratton 250K to consult the city?
Don’t wait on slick press releases and flashy commercials to get answers. Many of these candidates are on social media. Hit them up, ask the hard questions and be informed when you go to the polls June 3rd..
Reach out to some of these Oakland Mayoral candidates Shake Anderson Dan Siegel Libby Schaaf Bryan Parker Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Patrick McCullough, Courtney Ruby, Joe Tuman for Mayor of Oakland, Larry Lionel Young Jr, Sam Washington, Nancy Sidebotham, Margaret Wrigley-Larson, Peter Y. Liu, Bane Capital Ruby Paige Askew Gregory Wade