Attorney Walter Riley and Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council President Stewart Chen address supporters of DA Pamela Price at a rally on April 26, 2024. Credit: Eli Wolfe

On Friday, Price supporters rallied in front of the Alameda County Administration Building—the same location where a pro-recall rally occurred on Tuesday. Attendees and speakers included representatives from the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Oakland Rising Action, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network Action. Former Oakland councilmember and current Police Commissioner Wilson Riles and Berkeley mayoral candidate Kate Harrison also spoke.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced earlier this month that the recall campaign against Price collected enough verified signatures to put the question on the ballot. But the timing of the election will be decided by the Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday, the board will receive the verified signatures and could potentially meet within 14 days to schedule an election, per state law.

Recall supporters want a special election in July or August instead of waiting until the general election in November. County officials have said pursuing this option could cost as much as $20 million—a detail that was repeatedly brought up during Friday’s rally.

“We’re gonna dump millions—tens of millions of dollars—for a special election that will happen in August,” said Stewart Chen, president of the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council. “But why should we do that in August and cost $20 million when we can wait 90 days in November for that election to happen?”

Price’s critics say the DA has not pursued enough penalties for defendants, and some have blamed her for the uptick in violent crime that occurred in Oakland last year. Walter Riley, a long-time civil rights attorney, defended Price’s work holding police accountable and addressing root causes of public safety problems.

“Right now, crime is receding, yet we still see these attacks on Pamela Price,” Riley said, noting that some of Price’s critics are placing blame on Price for issues that are the responsibility of police, such as failing to arrest people.

Riles, the Police Commissioner, said Price can’t be solely blamed for crime, citing problems with OPD. He also echoed concerns about “wasting county money” by scheduling a special election.

“The election has got to be put on the regular ballot where people can be informed and where people are used to turning out to vote,” Riles said.

Other opponents of the recall say the process is illegal and that it diverts resources from pressing local needs. Former Berkeley Councilmember Kate Harrison said money for a special election could instead go to address gun violence among youth, but also non-public safety issues, such as housing. Harrison said the recall campaign is part of a broader movement by “monied interests” to undo progressive elections.

“If we see this happen here, we’re going to see it happen at city councils. We already have some challenges here in Oakland. We’re going to see it at the board of supervisors,” Harrison said. “So be very careful what you do, because the day you take away democracy from this race, the next day it’s going to be you on the chopping block.”

Pecolia Manigo, representing Oakland Rising Action, argued that a special election won’t just be costly, but also result in a low turnout.

“We know the turnout of voters in special elections is so low that any special election that occurs is guaranteed to have the least amount of voter participation ever,” Manigo said. “It’s also about giving the maximum number of Alameda County residents to participate in this decision.”.