Oakland Rising Action is a community-led political organization focused on supporting leaders who drive a progressive agenda dedicated to racial, economic and environmental justice that puts Oakland’s working-class, immigrant and communities of color living in the flatlands of Oakland at the center of our city’s government.
Our thorough endorsement process includes a written questionnaire and panel and/or individual interviews with select candidates. It engages activists, organizers and leaders of Oakland’s progressive left at each stage, with the goal of endorsing candidates who most align with our values, vision, and strategy for Oakland.
Below are our endorsements for Oakland races that voters will decide on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. This year we have also endorsed in some regional races where there are candidates that deeply align with our values and vision.
To ensure that we are building a thoughtful, progressive voting bloc that is accountable to our values, we offer some analysis as to how we landed our endorsements.
Values for Oakland Leadership:
As we look to the political future of Oakland, a few values loom large before us. We continue to believe that halting displacement is central to an overall progressive political strategy that keeps our working class and immigrant communities of color here in Oakland.
In order to do that, we need progressive electeds who will fight for strong protections to keep tenants, working class homeowners, and long-time residents in their homes. We need community champions who will ensure that development happens without displacement and with benefits for long-time residents, such as deeply affordable, stable housing and good, living wage jobs.
Oakland’s approach to community safety is also a key priority for us. We believe that safety must be addressed holistically, from holding police highly accountable in cases of police violence and corruption, to deeply investing in restorative justice programs, community-based re-entry programs and de-criminalizing people of color. Our belief is that a safe community is one where we work together to repair injustice and inequity, and truly look out for each other – in contrast to prioritizing the protection of property and militarization of our streets. We must have a culture shift in the way policing is done, and re-invest in strong public services like libraries and recreation programs that ensure safe, positive activities for Oakland’s youth.
The current priorities of the Oakland City Council have contributed to the loss of racial and class diversity in our city, notably the sharp drop in our city’s Black population. We are supporting candidates who will focus on shifting those priorities to focus on displacement, police accountability, and who will work with community members and progressive organizations to develop grassroots-led policy solutions to address community needs and ensure that the people of Oakland are a priority.
CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS:
At-Large City Councilmember:
Rebecca Kaplan has shown significant growth and leadership development in recent years. She’s proven to be a stronger and better-equipped progressive representative in her second term. She’s demonstrated her growth at critical junctures by standing up for the Protect Oakland Renters’ Act (Measure JJ), fighting for funds to fully implement and enforce the minimum wage increase and tenant protection ordinance, her vocal opposition to the Mayor’s nighttime protest ban, and being a champion for community benefits as part of the Coliseum City project. As the At-Large councilmember, Kaplan is in the unique position to weigh in on issues throughout the city, and she has done so when the leadership from the district representative has been lacking. We hope to see her consistently do more of this, both in public spaces and behind closed doors with her colleagues.
Rebecca Kaplan has previously worked to address city budget shortfalls by finding a progressive revenue source in taxes on medical cannabis businesses and creating a registry and fee structure for vacant buildings in the city. She is also providing regional leadership as an advocate for racial, economic and environmental justice on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board and the Alameda County Transportation Commission. It is worth noting that the other candidates in the race, including the Mayor’s former chief of staff, Peggy Moore, haven’t convinced us that they would be more effective or more progressive than Kaplan. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has become a dependable advocate on the council, and we look forward to continuing to work with her to create a city government that is more responsive to low income communities of color in the coming years. We are proud to endorse Rebecca Kaplan for City Council At-Large.
City Council District 1:
Dan Kalb has taken on some important issues over the last year, and we were pleased to have his support on No Coal in Oakland, the Protect Oakland Renters Act (Measure JJ) and the Police Commission (Measure LL). His commitment to transparency and accessibility is pretty singular among Oakland Councilmembers, in particular his regular office hours and newsletter. He has been a leader on environmental issues and a fairly consistent partner on progressive policies. In contrast, his opponent, Kevin Corbett, is literally against everything that we appreciate Dan Kalb being for, including Measures JJ and LL.
While we appreciate Kalb’s eagerness to craft and advance legislation, we would like to see him strengthen his partnership with community groups by conferring with them earlier on in the policy making process, and genuinely including them along the way as full partners in the process of governance. We believe that Dan Kalb is genuinely dedicated to economic and environmental justice, and willing to continue to grow in his ability to partner more effectively with community. We are pleased to endorse him for City Council District 1.
Noni Session is a newcomer to Oakland politics, but what she lacks in experience, she makes up for in vision for our city as a life-long resident of the Town. She is focused on changing the way decisions are made regarding development, especially in the neighborhoods that are being rapidly gentrified. A native of West Oakland, she is frustrated and concerned with the lack of community voice and participation in City Hall decisions that have pushed people of color out of Oakland. Her listening and learning approach to preparing for her city council campaign demonstrates a commitment to a true democracy, where the wisdom of the community counts. Session has some ambitious plans to improve economic development that will put working-class people of color at the center, and we’re confident that she has what it takes to make that happen.
Noni Session is a founder of the State of Black Oakland, an organization focused on the issues facing the Black community in Oakland, and has spent the last couple of years working with community members and organizations to address issues of displacement and exclusion from decision-making in Oakland. She wants economic development that keeps Oakland dollars in the hands of Oaklanders, with a focus on worker-owned co-ops and assistance for locally owned businesses. She believes in redirecting policing resources to meet community needs, rather than harassment of communities of color, and increasing the number of officers who live in Oakland. We are excited by Session’s bold vision, and recognize that if elected, she will need considerable support to fill in the details of her ideas. We are pleased to endorse Noni Session for City Council District 3.
Noel Gallo is an Oakland native and has been an elected leader in Oakland for over 20 years, first serving on the Oakland School Board. Gallo has been a strong supporter of the minimum wage increase and enforcing its enactment, and has consistently been responsive to community concerns. He has been focused on a cleaner and safer Oakland during his time on the City Council, and leads regular community beautification events to expose human trafficking and to rally the community for safer streets.
District 5 is a critical race this year. Gallo’s opponent, Viola Gonzalez, is being backed by the big money National Association of Realtors Fund and the Oakland Police Officers Association. We also believe that the Mayor has supported her candidacy in order to further a vision for the city that we are not aligned with. We need to send them a clear message on November 8th.
We cannot claim to be enthusiastic about all of the stances that Councilmember Gallo has taken over the years. In particular we are opposed to policies that tend to criminalize youth of color, such as the youth curfew that Gallo has supported, and we disagree that additional police officers are the key to improving community safety. However, Noel Gallo has emerged as a leader willing to fight for issues of importance to the community, such as the need for a stronger Police Commission, which often puts him at odds with the Mayor and fellow City Councilmembers. We value his independence and willingness to dissent when it is necessary, and believe that we need his voice on the council.
Going forward, we plan to work with Councilmember Gallo to bring more systems thinking and power building to his approach to solving problems. His second term will only be successful if he commits to deepening his systems analysis, and develops policies that will shift the city’s priorities. While we value his presence and visibility in the community, many problems facing our city require systems-level changes. Even given our critiques of Gallo, we are clear that he should be re-elected over other the big-money, police-backed candidate.
*We endorse Councilmember Gallo for a second term on Oakland City Council District 5, noting that there are a few key values around which we are not aligned.
Nehanda Imara has been a leader in District 7 for over a decade, focusing on issues of community health, equitable development, and environmental justice for flatland communities. Nehanda believes that community groups and residents need to have more say in the development of their neighborhoods. She has led organizing campaigns to stop the development of a crematorium in District 7, and has organized resident inclusion in the conversations about the development of the Coliseum area.
If elected, Nehanda Imara wants to create more employment opportunities for East Oakland youth to address illegal dumping and environmental cleanup. She plans to open an office in District 7 to make herself more accessible to residents. Imara will push for the addition of Environmental Justice elements in the city’s land use plans to stop polluting industries and businesses from locating in low-income communities of color. Her years of experience organizing for racial and environmental justice are needed in our city and on City Council. It’s time for new leadership in the deep East, and we are pleased to endorse Nehanda Imara for City Council District 7.
OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD
OUSD District 3
Khayrishi Wiginton is an educator at McClymonds High School in West Oakland, where she works with youth through Alternatives in Action. She has worked side by side with McClymonds parents and students to improve the school through the redesign process, and is committed to greater inclusion of community and parent voices and perspectives in OUSD decision-making. As an educator in Oakland schools, we feel confident that she will be a voice for the community on the OUSD board.
Khayrishi Wiginton brings humility and a servant leader orientation to her work that she would also bring to the OUSD board, and wants to build power for OUSD parents, a value that we share. She believes that Oakland needs a temporary moratorium on new charter schools until there is a better process in place for community input into the kind of schools that are coming into the community, and more accountability for charter schools. We have not made endorsements historically in School Board races, but believe that the extent of privatization of public education in Oakland and the ongoing lack of regard for the impact of district decision-making on the community, particularly in District 3, makes these races critically important this year. We are proud to support Khayrishi Wiginton for School Board District 3.
Chris Jackson is a parent of children in OUSD’s public schools, with a long history of organizing and service to low-income communities of color. An Oakland native, he is a social worker and has spent most of his career working to help formerly incarcerated folks rebuild their lives. Jackson is interested in creating stronger vocational education options in OUSD, and in bringing down class size. He also believes that we should offer free universal pre-kindergarten to all families in Oakland, so that more students are prepared to start school and so that families have assistance in addressing the high cost of child care.
Chris Jackson previously served on the board of San Francisco City College, where he was a champion for CCSF workers. We believe the Oakland School Board desperately needs more people who are deeply rooted in the community, and who will work closely with community organizations and parents to hold OUSD accountable to the needs of Oakland’s low-income communities of color. We have not made endorsements historically in School Board races, but believe that the extent of privatization of public education in Oakland and the ongoing lack of regard for the impact of district decision-making on low-income communities of color, especially in District 7, makes this an especially important race. We are proud to endorse Chris Jackson for School Board District 7.
BART BOARD OF DIRECTORS
BART Board, Ward 7
Lateefah Simon has spent her entire career fighting for communities of color, in particular the formerly incarcerated. She started her career with the Center for Young Women’s Development, and then worked for the City and County of San Francisco, starting a new re-entry program that dramatically reduced recidivism in San Francisco. She served as the Executive Director for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights prior to going into the philanthropic world.
As a legally blind mother who cannot drive, Lateefah Simon depends on BART to go to work, take her daughter to and from school, and manage day to day errands. As a BART rider herself, she is committed to making BART more user-friendly for riders with disabilities and more equitable for low-income riders. She will put BART riders over contractors and developers, a much needed change from the norm. She also plans to make herself and the BART district more accessible to constituents, by pushing for BART Board meetings to be held at community-accessible times.
Lateefah Simon also has an expansive vision of the role for BART in addressing the housing affordability crisis, and she is excited about the potential for using BART land to increase the supply of affordable housing in the Bay Area. She also plans to look at policing in the BART system and potential alternatives, like a community policing model that would better connect people to resources. We do not typically endorse in transit board races, but we believe that the BART board needs the vision and perspective that Lateefah Simon will bring. We believe she will be a champion for equity on the BART board, and are eager to work with her to build a more socially just Bay Area. We are proud to support Lateefah Simon for BART District 7.
EAST BAY REGIONAL PARKS DISTRICT BOARD
East Bay Regional Parks, Ward 2
Dionisio “Dee” Rosario
Dionisio “Dee” Rosario is newly-retired from the East Bay Regional Parks, and has been a champion for equity in the parks system throughout his 35 year career. He works to make the parks more accessible for students and communities of color and served as a leader among his co-workers, ensuring that park employees had a strong voice in district decision-making. Rosario recognizes that the parks district still has a long way to go to recruit and move more people of color into leadership roles, and is committed to using his role on the board to advocate for that.
Dionisio Rosario will focus on strengthening the voice of workers in the district, and making the district meetings more accessible to the public. He will push for greater accessibility to the park system, including advocating for more funding for urban students to access regional parks, and keeping user fees affordable for low-income residents. He will continue his work as an environmental champion, advocating for safer and more sustainable practices including decreasing the use of pesticides and increasing rainwater collection, renewable energy generation and composting toilets. We are proud to endorse Dionisio “Dee” Rosario for East Bay Regional Parks District Ward 2.