By The Vanguard Staff
OAKLAND, CA – Progressive, community-led Oakland Rising Action applauded a successful election season for Black, Brown and Immigrant Oaklanders, noting it held “conversations” with about 6,000 “infrequent and new” Oakland voters, reached 60,000 other Oakland households by mail and 6,815 views online.
The result was, the group said this week, winning campaigns for progressive candidates—including for district attorney and mayor—and ballot measures such as Measure W, which ORA said will increase community engagement and transparency in Oakland’s political system.
“We focused on supporting candidates and issues that drive a progressive agenda for working-class residents, immigrants, and communities of color living in the flatlands, and our team worked hard to turn out voters for the November midterm election. While many campaign consultants ignore BIPOC, working-class, immigrant, and formerly incarcerated community members, ORA believes that these are the people who will bring about the systemic change they are fighting for in Oakland and beyond,” said Jon Bean, Deputy Director, Oakland Rising Action.
Bean added, “And that’s exactly what happened. Our base turned out to elect candidates from district attorney to mayor to city council who reject the broken status quo, and to increase participation and transparency in elections by passing Measure W by almost 74 percent.”
ORA said, “A majority of Alameda County voters affirmed their demand for change to our criminal justice system by electing Pamela Price to become the new district attorney. Price, who is outspoken in her support of alternatives to incarceration, not only makes history as the first African American DA for the county, but also for breaking with the longstanding false narrative that we need more policing to address crime.”
ORA added, “The people of Alameda County cast their votes for changes like ending mass incarceration, expanding diversion programs, holding police accountable for misconduct, and investing in a broader and more comprehensive safety net – proven solutions to keep our communities safe.”
The group also noted that Oakland’s ranked choice voting system provided a “more democratic approach to electing the city’s leaders, resulting in the election of the candidates with the broadest support.” They cited the mayoral race, where voters “rejected putting profit before people by electing Sheng Thao,” a current councilmember who “holds strong working relationships with fellow progressive councilmember (and is) committed to fighting for tenants, small businesses, immigrants and refugees, children and families, and city workers.”
Termed-out Mayor Libby Schaaf, ORA charged, left a “legacy of a 130 percent increase in the size of Oakland’s unhoused population, more than half of which is made up of Black residents whose families have lived in Oakland for generations; displacement and housing access is one of Oakland’s most pressing issues.”
Schaaf, said ORA, “chose to push for more unaffordable market-rate and luxury housing development while turning a blind eye to the violent evictions, displacement, and criminalization of unhoused, poor, and working-class residents. Instead of prioritizing funding for jobs, housing, and community services like mental health programs to help communities thrive, Mayor Schaaf continuously reallocated hundreds of millions of city dollars to fund the failed Oakland Police Department’s bloated budget.”
Thao, argued ORA, “has the opportunity to reverse the past eight years of neo-liberal leadership by offering real solutions for public safety and the housing crisis that address Oakland’s underlying problems.”
Nikki Fortunato Bas was also reelected to the city council, and ORA chalked it up to “Oakland voters again affirmed their support of leaders who are committed to reimagining public safety,” pointing her 67.8 percent vote count.
“As council president, Bas fought for a people’s budget in 2021 to divest from policing, which consumes nearly half of Oakland’s general fund, and instead invest the people’s money in the services and programs that will improve the conditions of all of our lives. Despite attacks from opponents claiming that Bas failed to address public safety, voters recognized her numerous accomplishments focused on violence prevention. Bas also authored Measure T, Invest in Our Oakland, which will reduce taxes for small businesses and generate over $20 million annually for Oakland’s general fund. ORA worked to educate and mobilize voters around Measure T which passed by 71.8cent,” said ORA.
The progressive political group also noted Oakland voters “resoundingly passed Measure W, the Oakland Fair Elections Act, signaling a desire for a more participatory, responsive, and accountable local democracy. With anti-democratic forces on the march around the nation, Oakland is pushing back.”
“For too long, our elections have been funded by wealthy special interests and out of state donors. In recent years, over half of the money raised by city council and school board candidates was from people who don’t even live in Oakland. Measure W will empower Oaklanders to have a bigger influence, and ensure candidates are listening to voters rather than special interests,” said Liz Suk, Executive Director, Oakland Rising Action.
ORA said the elections victories were a “direct result of Oakland Rising Action’s work over more than a decade to bring working families, immigrants, and people of color into the political process.”