This year we have an exciting crop of candidates running in Oakland. I am encouraged by these candidates, who all share my commitment to do better for Oakland's working families, who are suffering from the high cost of housing, growing economic inequality and homelessness, and an inadequate response from our city. Only new leadership is going to change the fundamental lack of urgency that we have observed. I've shared a little below about what inspires me about each of these candidates, and why I am supporting them.
Clarissa Doutherd is running for School Board in District 6.
Clarissa Doutherd is an OUSD parent, a seasoned parent leader and the Executive Director of Parent Voices Oakland, which organizes parents around the issue of expanding access to affordable child care. I met Clarissa when I first joined the OUSD board; she reached out to help me learn about OUSD's role in early childhood education, and what we could be doing better. Partly because of her advocacy, we have expanded our slots for early education in OUSD, and have filled the existing slots that we had, giving more families access to this critical resource.
Clarissa is a special education parent, and an expert on early childhood. This is expertise that our board critically needs, and she has relationships with our families that I think our board would greatly benefit from, because most of us aren't working with OUSD families on a daily basis. She is committed to public schools for the common good, and like me, she believes that we have to make our district schools stronger, rather than abandoning public schools in favor of alternatives that remove schools from democratic control. You can learn more about Clarissa here.
Sheng Thao is running for City Council in District 4.
If elected, Sheng Thao would be the only renter on the Oakland City Council, in a city where 60% of the residents are renters. We need leadership that is reflective of our city, and I believe that is what Sheng represents. Sheng is currently Chief of Staff for Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, and is a seasoned policy leader after several city budget cycles. Her priorities are to address our homelessness and affordable housing crises, which she has personal familiarity with, having been homeless after leaving an abusive relationship. Sheng would bring a badly-needed perspective to the City Council, and I am excited to see the change that her leadership could bring to our city.
Sheng has also agreed, if elected, to collaborate with OUSD around the ways the city can support our efforts better, rather than making decisions that affect us without consulting with us. This would be a major win for OUSD students.
Cat Brooks is running for Oakland Mayor.
While Cat is known for her work around police accountability, her platform for her Mayoral campaign was developed in collaboration with community, and is focused on affordable housing, building a more fair economy and good jobs, real public safety and collaboration with OUSD to improve education in Oakland. Her campaign is a response to the lack of urgency we have all witnessed in responding to the growing inequality in our city - the growth in homelessness and the way that growing wealth has not benefitted all Oakland residents.
I believe that Cat is our best shot at addressing these problems. She has also agreed, if elected, to work with OUSD in real partnership around the ways the city can support our efforts better, rather than making decisions that affect us without consulting with us. This would be a major win for OUSD students.
Nikki Fortunato Bas is running for City Council in District 2. I have dual-endorsed Nikki and current Councilmember Abel Guillen.
Like me, Nikki's background is in the labor movement. She was a garment worker organizer for many years, before going on to work for regional and national organizations on the issue of worker rights. She has served Oakland through campaigns to raise the minimum wage and ensure good jobs as the Oakland Army Base is redeveloped. In her platform, Nikki has prioritized affordable housing and addressing homelessness and tackling the growing inequality in Oakland, and I think we would be very lucky to have her on our City Council. Like Cat and Sheng, Nikki has agreed if elected, to work in closer collaboration with OUSD to support our work with students.
Our city deserves leaders who have fresh ideas and deeper urgency about the affordable housing crisis and growing inequality in our city, and I think these candidates have a lot to offer and I am proud to support them.