As your neighbor, small business advocate, local politics chair of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, single mom, and former teacher, and, oh an elected representative of the Democratic party, these are some of the candidates and propositions I urge you to support. Jean Quan, Oakland’s first woman and first Asian mayor, who rose through the ranks, leading local government boards and agencies putting our youth first, is far and away my first choice for mayor of Oakland.
As a woman who has been somewhat of a trail blazer with a small “t”, whose mother was a newspaper reporter who blazed trails in her time, I have to say, I resent the notion that Ms. Quan has to prove her worth over and over.
In any other town, when a city is improving in as many ways as Oakland is with less violent crime, whose streets, sidewalks and parks are filled with families, couples, youth and old folks from all economic backgrounds and ethnicities picnicking, jogging, bicycling and enjoying the beauty that is Oakland together-why should this mayor have to defend herself against so many challengers, so many untested folks who have not done the work and who do not offer the results that this mayor has shown us? No, I believe if it weren’t for sexism, racism, biased press coverage, and yes, her own inability to be glib, including her occasional tongue-tied responses to reporters, there would be no consideration for any of these other candidates.
On the other hand, you could write an entire book about Jerry Brown’s gaffes, including the numbers and groups of people he offended and his general inattentiveness to Oakland’s regular folk. You could talk about the police chiefs he went through and the mistakes he made with city managers.
Jeez, that was years ago and even now some folks who run the Coliseum are trying to bring one of them back, Robert Bobb, to shore up our sports teams that Jerry so glibly dissed. We might have had a downtown A’s stadium by now had he cared enough to consider it, but for so many reasons, some very obvious and some not as obvious, his mistakes were shrugged away.
But Jean Quan has worked diligently to keep our teams without sacrificing our community’s largesse or dignity. We’ve been through many mayors and many proposals for the former Oakland army base and still nothing had happened-remember the Wayans’ studio, the shopping centers, the car sales lots, but now we’re doing with that land what is was meant for-building a logistics center to move goods into and out of our port, one of the most important ports in the country. This port had begun to lag behind others on the West Coast just as trade to the Far East started to pick up-now it will once again become the economic engine of the Bay Area, and possibly all of California. Jean Quan made the tough decisions and fought for the funding to make it happen. It will provide family and community sustaining jobs for the Oaklanders who need them most way into the future.
To make sure that our long-time residents are prepared for those jobs and because many aren’t, she is working directly with our community colleges to build that school to career pipeline, to insure that classes are available for youth who need a GED, specialized training, and counseling for those thousands of jobs which will develop out of our logistics center.
Mayor Quan spends much of her time fundraising for the summer jobs program, for toys for tots, peace in the parks and all the programs that bring direct city services along with opportunity and hope to the young people and families who live in long-neglected neighborhoods. She now knows many of those kids by name when she holds her barbecues in the park, or knocks on doors, or personally delivers Christmas presents to them. Everyone says they have seen this mayor in the toughest neighborhoods of Oakland more than any other politician, even including their own city council members. It goes without saying that they’ve seen her much more often than our city council member-at-large who is only seen when she is running for office.
Mayor Quan has laid the foundation for so many improvements in this city that if someone else is elected, that work may be able to continue for a while; but I challenge you to find a candidate who will work with and for our youth like this mayor has, and for that, she holds a special place in my heart. Please give her your vote if you agree that Oakland is moving in the right direction and you want a mayor who is already up to speed.
Abel Guillen is my candidate to be our District 2 Council Member. I have known Abel for a number of years now and I like him more each year. He has proven himself as a legislator as President of the Peralta Community Colleges Board. He also is an advocate for our youth. He like Mayor Quan is the child of immigrants, he knows how every day obstacles can become insurmountable and make it almost impossible to succeed without an advocate. He helped students get bus passes so that they would not miss classes at our community colleges. He is already working on securing that school to career pipeline with Mayor Quan that will result in family-sustaining jobs.
Abel is an expert at municipal finance something that the Oakland City Council sorely needs. He is that rare creature-a fiscal expert with a conscience and will make decisions considering all the needs of Oakland residents. Since we have another vote, I suggest neighborhood activist Andrew Park who gets my second. Sorry no suggestions for your 3rd vote but there are lots of reasonable choices out there.
I’ve endorsed Annie Campbell Washington for District 4 even though I cannot vote for her. She is a budget analyst, a level-headed and kind person who knows Oakland, its finances, its neighborhoods and their leaders inside and out. She is also a liberal running against an ideologue. Her opponent was recently scolded by the Sierra Club for using their logo without their endorsement, an endorsement that Annie does have.
Julina Bonilla is running for the Peralta Community College Board to take Abel Guillen’s place. Julina is currently the director of the West Oakland Job Center which was set up to help Oakland residents get at least 50% of the new jobs coming from the port/army base and other projects. She has spent her life working in re-entry programs and advocating for careers in non-traditional jobs for under-served youth. She herself rose through the community college system and is passionate about its needs. She is also a member of the Wellstone Club’s coordinating committee and we have appreciated her organizational skills and clear thinking.
Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about down ballot races like the East Bay Municipal Utility Board, that is, EBMUD our water agency. This year may be different. Many Oakland residents have worked hard to decrease our water usage as the drought drags on, but we watched with horror last spring as leaks, spills, and gushers ran down our streets as pipe after pipe failed and precious drinking water was lost forever. Because we know that we’re lucky enough to flush our toilets, water our gardens, and wash our clothes with some of the best drinking water in the world, we had reason to be upset.
That is why I am voting for Marguerite Young who is running to replace a long-term politician and the former mayor of Piedmont who has shown little leadership on the EBMUD Board. Marguerite is really an expert on water issues, where our water comes from, how to preserve it, and what EBMUD needs to do to prevent its loss. Her slogan is apt, “Make every drop count.”
Measure Z is the renewal of Measure Y with some improvements and restrictions. I have heard all the slanders on this compromise property tax, but I think it has worked well combining neighborhood-oriented law enforcement and programs that promote both intervention and prevention against the kinds of violence that have long plagued Oakland.
Programs like Missey which counsels and serves young women who’ve been caught up in prostitution and the renewed Operation Ceasefire-partially funded by Measure Y and currently saving lives in East and West Oakland-will be continued by extending this existing tax. It also funds some fire services that we desperately need. Given all the budget hits Oakland has endured over the last few years, loss of this fund would be devastating to all Oakland officials. That’s why the leading mayoral candidates have joined together to support it.
I’m excited by the probable passage of Measure FF, the initiative that would raise the minimum wage immediately to $12.25, but I will admit that I was concerned about the suddenness of the increase for our small businesses. I have been convinced by the economic research that these businesses may only have to increase the price of their products by pennies and that the workers who make these low wages will return those dollars to the local economy in buying power.
Proposition 45 was proposed by our Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, himself up for reelection and deserving of it, because he’s grown tired of watching insurance companies increase the rates of individual and small company plans without being able to stop them when they are not justified. Nothing you see in the anti-Prop 45 ads, paid for by our friends on insurance company boards, by the way, is even relevant to the content of this proposition.
This is how the League of Women Voters describes the proposition, “Prop. 45 applies only to individual and employer small-group plans. The Insurance Commissioner would have to approve rate changes for those plans before they could be implemented. The application process would require the company to publicly disclose and justify its requested rates. Consumers or insurance companies could challenge the outcome in court. Rates in effect as far back as November 6, 2012 would be subject to refund if found to be excessive. Under Prop. 45, “rates” would be defined to include any charges that affect cost, such as co-payments, deductibles, installment fees, premium financing, and more.” Vote your self-interest on this proposition.
Here’s how the League describes this prop in a nutshell, “Prop. 47 would reduce the penalty for most nonviolent wobblers and felonies to misdemeanors, unless the defendant has prior convictions for violent and serious crimes. Prop. 47 would permit resentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses reclassified in Prop. 47 as misdemeanors, and certain offenders who have already completed a sentence for one of those felonies may apply to the court to have their convictions changed to misdemeanors.
State savings from Prop. 47 would go to a newly created fund, “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” for truancy and drop-out prevention programs in schools, victims’ services, and mental health and drug treatment services designed to keep individuals out of prison and jail.”
After we succeed in passing Prop 47, it’s time its’ time to take on the proliferation of private prisons in addition to tackling the concept of imprisoning whole sectors of our population at a rate and in a style that would warm the heart of your average Inquisitor back to the Middle Ages.
Yes, there are other important initiatives and races on the ballot that deserve your attention. I have picked the ones that are the most important to me. Remember that you can go to Votersedge.org, the former Smart Voter, or CAvotes.org to get more info and background on all the races-state and local-that you might find on your ballot. You can also look up the recommendations of my Democratic Club, Wellstoneclub.org, for more of our endorsed candidates and positions.
Most importantly the last day to register in California is October 20th. You can debate all day about how we make progressive social change or you can urge everyone you know to vote and remind them and remind them again until they do it. Expect a call from me or someone like me on election day until you get out and cast that vote!