Alameda County Board of Supervisors Candidate Jennifer Esteen Challenges Incumbent Nate Miley on Mental Health and Public Safety

By Kaveh Nasseri

ASHLAND, CA – Alameda County Board of Supervisors candidate Jennifer Esteen this week criticized incumbent Nate Miley’s approach to mental health and public safety, in particular his inaction on the Sheriff’s Dept. oversight and support for the expansion of jail-based facilities.

The two candidates, running for District 4 Supervisor, were recently interviewed for a Castro Valley Forum article, where Esteen emphasized their differences on these major issues.

“When it comes to mental health and public safety, our board of supervisors, led by my opponent, have failed our community,” said Esteen, who works as a psychiatric nurse, in her interview with the Castro Valley Forum.

Esteen added, “When it comes to the mental health crisis, they have put too many resources into jail-based care at the expense of community-based preventative. A person can’t get well in a cell.”

Esteen is referring to the allocation of $80 million to increase the capacity of Santa Rita Jail for inmates with mental illness, a measure, according to the Castro Valley Forum, supported by Miley and the Board of Supervisors in 2023.

According to the Castro Valley Forum, the expansion of jail based care came in spite of the Care First Jails Last resolution, adopted by Alameda County in 2021, which stipulated that the county must prioritize funding for social services.

And, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report from April 2021, Santa Rita Jail is the county’s largest mental health service provider, and it has violated civil rights by giving inadequate care to inmates.

Esteen also took issue with Miley’s slowness in creating an oversight commission for police.

“Our Board of Supervisors are dragging their feet on creating an independent police oversight commission. The state passed AB 1185 in 2021 but implementation still has not taken place three years later” Esteen said, according to the Castro Valley Forum.

Esteen noted, “My opponent has been leading the delay as chair of the public safety committee and wants to obscure true independent oversight by assigning the county’s counsel to the body. People are dying in jail while these delays in implementation are taking place in boardrooms.”

According to the Castro Valley Forum, Esteen also pointed to Miley’s long tenure as District 4 Supervisor, emphasizing the need for change.

“The voters feel unsafe and are unhappy with the direction the community is going. And when I point out that my opponent has been at the helm of this ship for almost 25 years, they ask for change,” Esteen said.

In his own interview with the Castro Valley Forum, Miley stressed the importance of public safety. “Public safety is a core responsibility of government. If we can’t guarantee that, we’re not doing our job,” Miley said.

About The Author

Kaveh Nasseri Mashhadi is a recent graduate of UCLA with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. He is passionate about journalism, immigration law, and international politics. He hopes to attend law school and pursue a legal career.

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