Image for post
Image for post

Oakland Ballot Breakdown

City Council
City council members are elected by district. Find out which district you live in by clicking here.

City Council, At-Large

Rebecca Kaplan (incumbent): First elected in 2008, Kaplan has held the at-large seat of Oakland’s City Council for 11 years. Prior to serving as a council member, she worked as a housing rights attorney. She sits on the Alameda County Transportation Commission and was involved with the No Coal in Oakland campaign. Though she initially sided with the more conservative side of the council regarding policing, supporting minimal reform rather than defunding, she reversed her position after community pressure and voted to defund the police this summer. Kaplan is endorsed by SEIU 1021, the Sierra Club, the California Nurses Association and Our Revolution East Bay, among other groups. She has also received individual endorsements from D2 Council Member Nikki Bas, former mayoral candidate Cat Brooks and D3 Council Member candidate Carroll Fife.

Derreck B. Johnson: A third generation Oaklander, raised in the Acorn housing projects, Johnson’s platform focuses on strengthening the city’s Black community. Among his policy goals, he mentions increasing protections for renters, demilitarizing the police and redirecting responsibility away from police for calls related to individuals experiencing mental health crises and strengthening Black business. His climate change and climate justice policies aren’t very detailed, but he mentions creating safeguards to help residents hold large polluters responsible for their actions and effects on the health of Oakland communities. Johnson has received $100k in funding from Lyft and has received some criticism for being tied to corporate interests over people. He is endorsed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Senator Kamala Harris, among others.

Nancy Sidebotham: Specific policies not available.

District 1

Dan Kalb (incumbent): Kalb has been a climate leader on the council since first taking office in 2013. Formerly the California policy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Kalb successfully championed banning coal in Oakland and divesting Oakland’s investments from Fossil Fuels while on the council. He advocates increasing green jobs in tandem with fighting climate change. Kalb also supported the measure to defund the Oakland Police Department, and advocates for increased affordable housing and tenant protections and improving public education. The Sierra Club, Oakland Rising Action, Oakland Tenants Union and Mayor Libby Schaaf are just some of those who endorsed Council Member Kalb.

Tri Ngo: Raised in Philadelphia and Atlanta, Ngo’s entry into politics was through working on President Obama’s campaign in 2008. Ngo moved to Oakland four years ago and currently works for a solar inverter company. The planks of Ngo’s platform include increasing affordable housing by building more middle class housing and implementing a vacancy tax, creating a four-step pathway for unhoused individuals to transition to permanent housing over 2–3 years, and shifting funding toward addressing the root of crime and minimizing the use of armed police as much as possible. Ngo doesn’t list any policies for addressing climate change and climate justice.

Steph Walton: Walton, a third-generation Californian and Latina woman, enters the race from a background in broadcast journalism. Walton’s climate policy proposals include creating more transit-oriented housing and efficient public transportation, infrastructural support for electric vehicles and the electrification of buildings. She supports keeping coal out of Oakland, as well as reducing use of natural gas. Walton also intends to prioritize approving affordable housing projects, strengthening tenant protections and revising the city’s zoning code to allow for more multi-family units. When it comes to police, she supports a ban on tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades, and states she will “budget[] the resources they need to protect all of our communities equitably and justly.” Walton is endorsed by the East Bay Young Democrats, Planned Parenthood, and a number of local unions, among other groups and individuals.

District 3

Carroll Fife (Endorsed by Sunrise Bay Area): Sunrise Bay Area is proud and excited to endorse Carroll Fife in this race! Fife has a long and successful history in both politics and organizing work; she helped found Moms 4 Housing, is the executive director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), founded the Black Women in Elected Leadership PAC and is a member of the 2020 Platform Committee for the DNC, among many other accomplishments. The two biggest planks in Fife’s platform are defunding OPD and providing immediate housing, mostly in the form of currently empty apartment units, to homeless individuals in Oakland. Fife also supports a Black New Deal and the Oakland Climate Justice Plan and strongly opposes the proposed coal terminal in West Oakland.

Lynette McElhaney (incumbent): McElhaney has served as the council member for District 3 for the past eight years and is another progressive candidate, though she does not lean as far left as Fife. Where Fife wants to rapidly defund the police, McElhaney advocates for more gradual changes and voted against this summer’s proposal to defund OPD by an additional $2.75 million. She did establish the Reimagining Public Safety Taskforce with the longer term goal of redirecting 50 percent of the OPD budget toward Black and Brown communities. McElhaney’s website does not list specific issue stances, but does include some of her accomplishments while on the council, including founding the Department of Violence Prevention, building new affordable housing units and leading the charge to stop the development of a coal terminal in West Oakland. Her endorsements include Mayor Libby Schaaf and the East Bay Times,

Meron Semedar: Semedar made Oakland his home in 2013 after leaving Eritrea as a refugee and living in Sudan and then South Africa before immigrating to the U.S. The policy stances listed on his website include redistributing the police department budget, increasing oversight of OPD and reducing its responsibilities, as well as addressing the issues of affordable housing and houselessness. Semedar does not list any climate-related policy stances or proposals.

Seneca Scott, Faye Taylor, and Alexus Taylor are also running for District 3 but have limited to no information available online.

District 5

Noel Gallo (incumbent): Gallo has served as District 5’s council member since 2013 and was a member of the Oakland Board of Education for 20 years prior to that. His priorities include increasing the production of affordable and workforce housing units, creating more houseless support programs and investing in neighborhood businesses, as well as providing resources for the community as it recovers from COVID-19. Gallo does not list any climate justice-related priorities on his website, though he is endorsed by the Sierra Club. He voted against defunding the Oakland Police Department but his website does not include his stances on policing overall. Gallo is endorsed by East Bay Democratic Club, OakPAC, and Teamsters Joint Council, (1st Choice) among others.

Zoe Lopez-Meraz: Lopez-Meraz is a progressive candidate with strong stances in favor of defunding the police budget by 50% to put $132 million toward public services instead, immediately housing Oakland’s unhoused individuals, endorsing the Black New Deal and advocating for a Green New Deal at the local level. She also intends to support the creation of Climate Resilience Hubs and to consult with Indigenous land protectors regarding public lands if elected.

Richard Santos Raya: Raya, himself a Sunrise Bay Area member and co-host of our podcast Sunrise Bay Radio, grew up in Fruitvale and has returned after graduating law school to fight for progressive policies in his hometown. Raya supports defunding the police to invest in community services, endorses the Black New Deal, and plans to address Oakland’s housing crisis by instituting aggressive city-wide affordable housing requirements and converting existing empty housing units into deeply affordable housing units, among other tactics. Raya is endorsed by the East Bay Young Democrats, Oakland Rising Action, Block by Block Organizational Network and SEIU Local 1021, among others.

District 7

Aaron Clay: An East Oakland public school teacher and founder of a community solar energy, Clay is running to create inclusive economic development and job opportunities in District 7, reimagine public safety by investing in solutions to poverty and mental health needs, and increase affordable and transitional housing options. Clay does not list any climate-specific policy proposals or stances.

Marcie Hodge: Hodge is a lifelong Oakland resident and the executive director of the St. John Boys Home there. She is calling for police reform and increased accountability and training, intends to create a coalition on homelessness with nonprofits and county programs, and increase job opportunity in District 7 by attracting “businesses that invest in the future.” She also does not list any climate-specific policy proposals or stances.

Bishop Jackson: Jackson, a pastor and bishop, considers himself to be a longtime leader in Oakland. His priorities include reducing the wealth gap in District 7 by increasing job opportunities and apprenticeship pathways toward good work, constructing more housing at all price points to increase affordability, and supporting community policing models while moving police funding toward services that can address issues of mental health, homelessness and domestic violence. His only climate-related policy proposal is to increase use of mass transit and make it easier for people to work close to where they live to reduce traffic pollution in the district. Jackson is endorsed by a number of pastors and other religious leaders in Oakland.

Treva Reid: Reid had a history of advocating for housing policies, gun violence prevention and legislation for incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals in District 7 during her time as a Senior Field Representative for former Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner. She intends to continue to prioritize those issues as a council member, listing increasing funding for violence intervention and healing programs, passing and enforcing tenant protections and increasing affordable housing among her policy proposals. She does not include climate change-related stances on her website. Reid is endorsed by Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland Rising Action, the Sierra Club and Black Young Democrats of the East Bay among many others.

Marchon Tatman: Tatman is an Oakland native who currently works with the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank to help feed thousands of local families, has formerly worked with Clean Water Action and is a doctoral candidate for a PhD in Public Administration. Tatman wants to increase pathways to employment, especially for formerly incarcerated individuals and youth, ensure housing for all, and implement restorative justice programs in the city, among many other ideas listed on his website. When it comes to OPD, Tatman advocates for increased community trust with the department and employing Oakland residents on the force, as well as increasing police support to decrease response times. Tatman does not list any climate-related proposals.

City Attorney

Barbara Parker (incumbent): City attorney since 2011, and serving in the City Attorney’s Office for a total of 20 years, Parker has championed tenants rights, housing justice, racial equity and environmental justice. Among her environmental efforts, she filed a lawsuit against five of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to hold them accountable for their role in climate change, which was recently reinstated by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and has helped keep coal out of Oakland. A long list of Parker’s cases can be found on her website. She is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Oakland Tenants Union, renowned civil rights attorney John Burris, Councilmember Dan Kalb, among many other groups and individuals.

Eli Ferran: Ferran, who grew up in New Orleans and now lives in District 6, served as a Deputy City Attorney for Oakland from 2011 to this June. He intends to reevaluate the City Attorney’s Office’s equity lens and shift its focus from punitive to restorative justice, protect tenants and hold big polluters accountable. Ferran also hopes to streamline building approval processes and provide strong government and police oversight. His endorsements include East Bay Young Democrats, the Coalition for Police Accountability and Carpenters Local 2235.

Oakland School Board

School board directors are also elected by district. Click here to find out which school board district you live in.

District 1

Austin Dannhaus: As one of the founding partners of Friday, a consulting firm for community services and education based in Oakland, and a former third grade teacher, Austin Dannhaus is running on a platform of advocacy experience and dedication to equity and financial responsibility. Dannhaus supports evidence based school mergers provided there is proof of improvement of educational opportunities for students involved, citing Oakland Tech as an effective, large school. He supports a Moratorium on charter schools, though uses softer language than the other candidates around existing Charters. He supports a diversity by design approach to ending school segregation and points to Austin, TX as a good example. He is endorsed by GO Public Schools, Libby Schaaf, and Jody London among others.

Sam Davis: As a former teacher in district 5 (Fruitvale) and an education analyst working to represent historically underserved communities at UC Berkeley, Sam Davis is running for the Oakland School Board on a platform of equity and community inclusion for OUSD. He supports hiring more staff who are people of color and creating/improving pathways for Oakland residents to become teachers in Oakland Schools. Davis plans to use former policing funds to take a restorative approach to discipline, including a clear plan for what happens when 911 is called from a school site to limit police involvement. Davis proposes an “equity formula” for school budgets. He also supports a moratorium on charter school creation and holding existing charter schools to inclusivity requirements in AB1505. He advocates a zero-based budget for the administration, the same standard that individual schools already use. Davis is endorsed by The Oakland Education Association, Oakland Rising, Bay Rising, Carroll Fife, a number of local unions, and many more.

Stacy Thomas: Stacy Thomas is a 20 year resident of Oakland who hopes to combine her experience as a bookkeeping professional and her volunteer work with the Youth Court restorative justice program to ensure that OUSD is able to achieve diversity and financial stability. She is against mergers unless requested by a simple majority of teachers and parents and hopes to reopen Kaiser Elementary. Thomas is a proponent of utilizing excess district property for administration housing at below market rate. She would like to bring charter schools back into the OUSD System and supports a Moratorium on all new Charter Schools.

District 3

Maiya Edgarly: Raised in West Oakland, Edgarly now works for the non-profit Bridges from School to Work, where she helps students with disabilities transition into jobs. Her priorities are ensuring college access for Oakland students and closing the digital access gap. She is endorsed by GO Public Schools and Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Cherisse Gash: Oakland native Cherisse Gash comes from a family of educators, many who have worked in District 3, and is a health educator and caretaker. Her priorities include stopping all public school closures, increasing budget transparency, placing a moratorium on charter schools, improving graduation rates and giving students a voice in policy decisions. She also intends to help dismantle the school to prison pipeline within OUSD and she has taken the No More Cop Money Pledge. Gash is endorsed by Oakland Rising (#1), Action 2020 and Oakland Not For Sale.

Mark Hurty: Hurty is a former special education teacher in Oakland Unified School District and former Teach for America director. He now works for EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit focused on improving internet access in public schools. His priorities as a school board director include improving district-wide reading levels, bridging the digital divide and addressing other equity issues. Hurty is also endorsed by Mayor Libby Shaaf and GO Public Schools, as well as the East Bay Times.

Maximo Santana: Educator Maximo Santana is running to increase financial accountability in the school district, bring all school services online, increase diversity in school staff and teachers through more equitable pay. He does not have any listed endorsements.

VanCedric Williams: Public school teacher VanCedric Williams is running on the platforms of increasing budget accountability and transparency, using a social and racial justice lens to improve equity in the schools, and establish more Community Schools. He is endorsed by Oakland Education Association, Oakland Rising Action (#2), John George Democratic Club and many other organizations, unions and elected officials.

District 5

Leroy Gaines: Leroy Gaines comes to the race with a strong background as an educator, including work as the principal at ACORN Woodland Elementary School where he was awarded Principal of the Year for his work improving literacy. He believes that in order to improve the financial situation of OUSD they must focus on a few basic issues consistently, particularly reading levels and literacy. He believes that charter schools have a place in the district and that his job at OUSD would be to represent parents of all children in the district (40% of which attend charter schools). Gaines is open to closing schools and is opposed to opening any new schools, charter or district. He is endorsed by Libby Schaaf, Noel Gallo, Jody London, and a number of Principals across the district, among others.

Mike Hutchinson: A community activist and lifelong resident of District 5, Mike Hutchinson is running on a platform of Social Justice in schools. He lists four actions he wants the school board to take: end ‘Blueprint for Quality Schools’ and stop plans to close or co-locate schools, enforce AB1505 to close underperforming charter schools, promote Authentic Community Engagement, and achieve ‘Sustainable Community Schools’. With regards to policing, now that OPD is out of public schools, Hutchinson would like to fully implement the Black Organizing Project’s plan for police free schools. He supports equitable resources rather than integration efforts as Oakland schools are already diverse. He is endorsed by the Oakland Education Association and the Alameda Labor Council among others.

Sheila Pope Lawrence: Sheila Pope Lawrence is a 29 year educator, school counselor and parent of children in OUSD. She is running on a platform including expanding the ethnic studies curriculum and introducing career training in high school for jobs in public service, health, engineering, and education. Her plan to improve the financial situation of OUSD is to support leasing and selling of unused OUSD administrative properties and by setting measurable financial goals. She plans to improve teacher retention with better salaries, simpler HR onboarding processes, longer contracts, and a pipeline to hire existing educators as teachers such as americorps volunteers. Lawrence is endorsed by the iron workers union and planned parenthood advocates Mar Monte as well as numerous individual endorsements.

Jorge Lerma: Jorge Lerma is a former principal who is running primarily to increase representation of Black and Latino Teachers at OUSD. He believes in a reduction of standardized testing and a focus on formative testing instead. Lerma supports the continued closure of in person schools until a vaccine is available. He opposes charter schools saying, “Charter schools should have no role in OUSD”. Lerma believes in providing equitable resources rather than continuing to focus on arbitrary diversity goals.

District 7

Kristina Molina: Activist Kristina Molina is campaigning on the goals of preventing budget mismanagement through increased oversight and a yearly independent audit, improving and supporting special education programs and implementing more culturally relevant curriculum in public schools. She is endorsed by Mark Williams, director of Alameda-Contra CostaTransit District and Oakland School Board Director Shanthi Gonzalez and Oakland Rising (#1).

Ben “Coach” Tapscott: Former educator, coach and educational administrator, Tapscott has been advocating for racial justice throughout his life. He helped expose the lead contamination at McClymonds High, has fought against school closures and hosted many community meetings. His main priorities include conducting a quarterly independent audit of the OUSD budget, making literacy a top school priority, and stopping school closures and putting resources back into neighborhood schools. He is endorsed by the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America, Alameda Labor Council AFL-CIO and the Oakland Education Association, among others.

Bronché Taylor: Bronche Taylor is running with experience as an arts and theater teacher at McClymonds and Castlemont High Schools. He opposes measure Y because there wasn’t enough community input and it doesn’t raise enough money. Taylor supports charter schools as a way for parents to be able to exercise choice. He supports school mergers when appropriate and believes that there are too many schools in the district. He wants to utilize the excess property owned by OUSD to generate more revenue for the district.

Clifford Thompson: Clifford Thompson is a former Oakland Tech and Community School for Creative Education principal and current elementary school teacher in Richmond running on a platform of enforcing existing school board policy designed to solve equity issues. He cites BP 6005 and 6006 for his plan for quality schools and BP 5032 for his equity plan. He supports charter schools and proposes that rather than comparing charter versus no, the school board should be focused on whether or not schools are working well. He believes that removing police from OUSD entirely went too far. He is endorsed by individuals including Carl Lee Tolbert, Cynthia Adams, and Jamoke Hinton Hodge.

Victor Valerio: Victor Valerio is an SFMTA Project engineer and East Oakland native running on a platform of community engagement. He proposes more vocational training in high school as well as more supporting services for students health and academic success. He wants to establish an office for student enrollment and improve district oversight bodies in order to better finance the district. Valerio claims that while charter schools have a place in OUSD, there are too many of them and supports a Moratorium and better regulation of charters through AB1505. On Police, he supports the decision to separate police from OUSD though he does believe there still needs to be a relationship between schools and the police department for the protection of students and teachers. He is endorsed by Oakland Rising, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Roseann Torres, Dr. Stan Oden and others.

BART Board of Directors

Depending on where in Oakland you live, you might be represented by BART District 4 or 7. District 7 director is up for re-election this year but District 4 is not.

District 7

Lateefah Simon (incumbent): First elected to the board in 2016, Simon was elected to serve as president of the BART Board in 2020. She is a champion of reform for the BART Police Department and has challenged the paradigm of the powerful BART Police Union. Simon is an advocate for civil rights, racial justice, and juvenile justice who centers her work around core values of equity, accessibility, and public safety for all. Though Sunrise did not vote on an endorsement in this race, Simon’s values and initiatives more closely align with the fifth Green New Deal principle of promoting justice. She is endorsed by Bay Rising Action, Berkeley Progressive Alliance, the Sierra Club and many other organizations and elected officials.

Sharon Kidd: Kidd is running on a platform to ensure BART is clean, reliable and safe. She wants to ensure public accountability on policing, but she is backed by the police union and according to the San Francisco Chronicle she “described a platform that would largely preserve traditional law enforcement, adding police officers to quell crime and keeping ambassadors to make trains more welcoming.”

Local Measures

Measure QQ — Youth Voting

This measure would give greater electoral power to young people, as it would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 in school board elections. This measure aligns with Sunrise’s commitment to building people power through youth empowerment. Measure QQ is endorsed by Causa Justa, Oakland Rising, and many more progressive Bay Area organizations.

Our recommendation: SURE.*

*No official endorsement.

Measure RR — Removing Fine Limit

Measure RR would eliminate the current $1,000 limit on fines for breaking any ordinance of Oakland’s municipal code, and require the City Council to set a new limit after a public hearing. This measure appears to be aimed at addressing illegal dumping, so penalties could be made harsher for repeat offenders and businesses who choose to just pay the fine instead of comply with the laws. It is important to note that fines can disproportionately impact lower income folks, so it would be up to the City Council to adjust fines for code violations in a way that avoids further burdening low-income people and communities. Oakland Rising recommends voting YES.

Our recommendation: SURE.*

*No official endorsement.

Measure S1 — Amending Powers of Police Commission

Currently the role of inspector general, which provides analysis of the Oakland Police Department (OPD)’s policies and procedures, is within OPD. Measure S1 would create a separate Office of the Inspector General, which would have the authority to review police misconduct investigations and provide written reports to the Police Commission and City Council. A yes vote would increase police department accountability by creating independent oversight of police activities. Measure S1 is endorsed by the California Democratic Party, the Coalition for Police Accountability, and Oakland Rising, among others.

Our recommendation: SURE.*

*No official endorsement.

Sunrise Bay Area Guide
San Francisco Ballot Breakdown
Berkeley Ballot Breakdown

This guide was written and edited by:
David Berney-Needleman
Gershon Bialer
Phoebe Bisnoff
Naomi Flagg
Malcolm Flint
Laretta Johnson
Massimo Lambert-Mullen
Jimmy Le
Jordan Lowe
Molly Morabito
Garrett Nichols
Charlotte O’Keefe Stralka
Ahlad Reddy
Sasan Saadat
Jamie Sheasley
Adam Singer
Noah Tenney
Melina Tessier
Elliott Wong

Written by

We’re the Bay Area hub of Sunrise Movement — building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store