This 20-question questionnaire was designed to give Oaklanders a chance to evaluate, at once, the plans and philosopies of all of the participants in the Oakland Mayoral Race and the Oakland City Council Race for District 2, District 4, and District 6.
This is 2018 Oakland Mayoral Candidate Saied Kamarooz
1. Candidate’s Full Name and current occupation
Saied Karamooz, Chief Operating Officer,
2. Why are you running for office in Oakland?
I am running for mayor to serve, in the best way I possibly can, all the people of Oakland, not just the wealthy few.
My motivation is deeply rooted in my belief in the act of social solidarity that embraces not only feeling the pain, struggle, and suffering of our underrepresented and marginalized residents, but also celebrating their joy, prosperity, and triumphs.
My campaign platform, based pragmatic progressive ideas that advance civil rights, economic justice, and social assurances, offers a unique opportunity to change forever the political trajectory in our city.
A detailed set of my solutions to Oakland’s most pressing problems that are tangible, measurable, and discrete can be viewed on my campaign website at www.EveryonesMayor.org.
3. Have you held an elected position before? If so, please describe.
4. Have you ever served on a public board or commission? If so, please list assigments.
Currently, I serve on the City of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission. In addition, I have been an active member of Coalition for Police Accountability for the past four years, where I have been on the Steering Committee for the past two years.
Since 2014, I have been on the Board of Jack London Improvement District (JLID) where I served in leadership capacities, most recently as the President earlier this year.
5. What endorsements have you received? If so, please list them.
Bay Area Small Merchants Chamber of Commerce [#1 endorsement]
Oakland Justice Coalition (#2 ranking)
Block by Block Organizing Network (BBBON) [#2 endorsement]
Green Party of Alameda County [#1 endorsement]
Oakland Greens [#1 endorsement]
Oakland Post [#3 endorsement]
Oakland Management Related Questions
6. What are your top six Oakland Budget priorities, and why?
1. Dignified Housing for All
Oakland is facing a housing affordability crisis and a concomitant homelessness calamity that demand the city’s highest priority. The city must provide immediately full hygiene facilities, including indoor restrooms, grooming amenities, and laundry services, to its most impacted and vulnerable homeless residents, and follow up by establishing indoor regional “Navigation Centers” on the models of San Francisco and Berkeley. If Proposition 10 (the repeal of the Costa- Hawkins Act) passes, the city must rapidly implement three reforms: (1) an ordinance to create progressive rent control policies; (2) the construction of low-cost houses and apartments for rent or purchase by low-income residents; and (3) promotion of home ownership with interest-free and no-down-payment loans.
2. Secure Jobs for All
To insure a livable wage necessary for workers to meet their basic needs, I am in favor of: (1) increasing the minimum wage to $16 per hour; (2) expanding the Public Works Department to clean, repair, and beautify the city’s parks, streets, and sidewalks; (3) initiating a cancellation of the Waste Management contract and using the savings to fund job training and apprentice programs for the formerly incarcerated; and (4) establishing a “re-entry” fund for work performed by inmates while in custody.
3. Quality Education for All
Oaklanders deserve to have a genuinely free, tax-supported, democratically controlled great public school in every neighborhood, not the illusion of choice of an unaccountable charter school that siphons taxpayer dollars away from the public schools and serves the interests of the corporate school privatization movement. Immediate attention must go to eliminating lead poisoning from all schools, refurbishing all school buildings, and procuring adequate school supplies and equipment. In addition, the city should offer pre-school for 3-4 year olds, summer and after-school programs for all students, and restore vocational training courses, along with arts, music and sports electives and programs. It is with reach of the city to reinvigorate and strengthen all the city’s libraries, to restore adult night-school programs, and implement a tuition-free college program for all who qualify.
4. Real Public Safety for All
. I pledge also to: (1) recruit more residents of Oakland to become OPD officers; (2) withdraw from Urban Shield; (3) declare a day of mourning for every homicide in Oakland; (4)
institute formal restorative justice and community policing programs; and (5) give the selection of the mayor’s 3 (of 7) citizen police commissioners to the community. All of these actions I will do with the recognition that true public safety can be achieved only through the accomplishment of the above listed four priorities, namely, by way of quality education, dignified housing, and well-paying jobs.
5. A Better Oakland for All
I am committed to ensuring that everyone lives in a neighborhood with clean, safe, and attractive streets by first putting an end to illegal dumping, abating widespread tagging, and eradicating all unused railroad tracks in our city. I am committed to planting oak trees to create a beautiful canopy throughout all public areas and spaces and to improving all gateway entrances to the city. We have the ability to revitalize the 16th Street Station and Kaiser Auditorium. In addition, Oakland must modernize traffic corridors to prepare for the transportation (e.g., driverless cars, ride-sharing, EVs)
revolution. Finally, I am in favor of making Oakland one of the first cities in the nation to create a municipal bank that would hold the city’s deposits — in contrast to having them held by Wall Street Banks as currently done. A public banking option would make fiscally responsible loans in the best interest of all the residents of Oakland — in contrast to Wall Street banks’ record in our city of risk, ruin, and predatory lending.
6. Responsive and Trustworthy Government for All
To make the mayor’s office accountable to the ordinary citizens of Oakland, the first step is to eliminate the corrosive impact of campaign financing on its politicians. For this reason, I am refusing all dirty-money donations from corporations, non-Oaklanders, or in excess of $45 to avoid being indebted to anyone other than the people of Oakland. In addition, when elected mayor, I will attend all city council meetings, publish my meeting calendar, issue quarterly progress reports on my campaign promises, reduce the number of signatures needed for placing Initiatives on the ballot, and institute a participatory budgeting process so that Oaklanders have a direct say in how their tax dollars are spent.
7. There is a projected deficit for the City of Oakland through 2020. Residents want to close the budget gap via raising revenues. What would you do to raise more money for the City of Oakland?
I intend to apply my professional skills to generate 10-15% productivity gains in city operations, including the city’s largest department, the Oakland Police Department (OPD).
In the private sector, cost reduction is achieved through job elimination, and the savings are passed onto shareholders as stock buy-back or dividends and paid to executives as cash bonuses and equity grants. In contrast, as mayor, I would maintain the same funding level after productivity gains and apply the excess funds
. In the process, we will achieve much better public safety results with this approach
than with the status quo.
8. How do you propose to solve the problem of the City of Oakland’s under-funded pension liability?
I would begin with not demonizing the labor unions and their leadership. Then I would engage with them on a collaborative, not combative, basis to analyze the city’s revenues together and to chart a course to restore the health of our pension liabilities.
Oakland Police-Related Questions
9. Does Oakland need to hire more police officers or reduce the number we have – please explain your answer.
Maintain the current level. However, to achieve , we must invest in the foundational pillars of Housing, Jobs, and Education.
10. Do you support the work of the current Oakland Police Chief, or is a change needed? Please explain.
The chief has not made bringing the Negotiated Settlement Agreement to closure a priority, nor has she made any progress since coming to Oakland.
The chief has violated Oakland’s sanctuary city ordinance by cooperating with ICE in August 2017 and lied about it.
Public Safety has not improved under the chief’s watch in the last two years.
Conclusion: The chief has been ineffective in her capacity to lead Oakland Police Department.
11. Unreported “use-of-force” incidents are a major Oakland Police problem. How do you propose to solve it?
There are two proposals currently before the California Legislature that I support to help solve the problem of unreported “use-of-force” incidents. The first is Senate Bill 1421 that would honor the public’s right to know about confirmed officer misconduct and serious uses of
force. The second is Assembly Bill 931 that would require that police use deadly force only when there are no alternatives.
Because transparency of police operations is imperative, I would work in partnership with the city’s Independent Citizen’s Police Commission to develop strategies to counteract what are far too many times unnecessary uses of force caused by implicit bias against Oakland’s citizens of color. I would rely on the advice of experts who have examined policies that have successfully minimized the so-called “oppressive footprint” of policing in communities of color. We know, for example, that recently adopted new pursuit and chase polices can reduce the likelihood of the use of force. Ideally, in regard to the use of force, all police departments throughout the state should adopt the same restrictions, reporting techniques, and police training.
12. The Oakland Police Department is in its 13th year of federal oversight. What’s your plan to get OPD away from federal government watch?
The fact that no mayor for the previous has been able to get OPD out from under federal government oversight is more than disgraceful; it is literally an ongoing community humiliation in- and-by itself that I am pledged to end as part of my campaign promises.
As previously mentioned, the first step I will take as mayor will be to work with the police chief, along with the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, beat officers, and community stakeholders, to terminate within 24 months of my administration the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA).
13. The Oakland Police Department disporportionately stops more people of color, than whites. What’s your plan to stop this problem?
This problem is intertwined with all other OPD misconduct problems that have resulted in OPD remaining under federal oversight for over fifteen years. I have committed to bringing the NSA to closure within 24 months, which entails ending all racially-biased practices of OPD, including disproportionate stops of people of color.
Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Quality of Life In Oakland
14. What’s your plan to stop or curb homelessness in Oakland?
I would earmark funding for no-interest loans to at-risk households so that they can pay for rent, utilities, and taxes to prevent homelessness.
With regard to providing housing for the currently homeless resident, I would take the following discrete, actionable, and measurable steps:
1) Short Term (2-6 weeks). Meet the immediate needs (i.e., hygiene, wellness, safety, storage, and mailing address) of our homeless
2) Medium Term (within 180 days). Provide humane (i.e., converted containers, NOT Tuff Sheds & Port-a-Potties) temporary housing in 6- 8 locations (with 300-400 residents per location) with full navigation services at each site, and
3) Long Term (within 24 months). Embark on a housing construction initiative to provide affordable homes (for rent or purchase) to low- income families.
15. What’s your plan to cause more affordable housing to be built in Oakland?
Expecting [or attempting to strong-arm] greed-motivated developers to build an adequate supply of affordable housing is a fool’s errand. As stated in the previous answer, .I would embark on a housing construction initiative to provide affordable homes (for rent or purchase) to low-income families.
16. What’s your plan to stop or curb illegal dumping in Oakland?
I would begin by expanding Oakland Public Works so that . dumping sites are cleaned up before Oaklanders wake up each morning all illegal Illegal dumping in Oakland is directly caused by the Waste Management contract that was negotiated in 2014. I will begin to unwind that contract and in-source trash disposal and save $25M-$35M per year in the process.
Economic Development In Oakland
17. Share with us your economic development plan and policy for Oakland.
Addressing climate change is the ultimate responsibility of our
As such, I will devote significant time, resources, and attention to ensure that the City of Oakland is on the forefront of this endeavor.
I will commit to the following initiatives: 100% renewable energy by 2028. To achieve this goal, I would modernize our streets to promote alternative modes of transportation that are no powered by fossil fuels.
Conservation. Reduce energy and water consumption throughout Oakland and installation of solar panels.
Air Quality. Reduce air pollution in areas of Oakland that are highly polluted due to excessive truck traffic.
Rising Sea Level. Protect low-lying areas that are in imminent danger of flooding in the next few decades.
. Drought will return inevitably and our city is doing for it. Establish an innovation center to attract
water desalination industry though leaders to implement facilities in Oakland not only to meet Oakland’s water supply needs, but also to become world renowned for our expertise in water desalination capabilities around the world, just as silicon valley is to the digital industry.
Waste Reduction. Two-pronged approach:
– Business. Implement re-use of packaging material. There are many businesses that discard packing material (e.g., boxes, pallets, Styrofoam) that other businesses purchase to shipping their products. By setting up this program, we can have a profound impact on reduction of waste generated by businesses.
– Residential. Implement localized composting services with incentives to increase separation of composting material from landfill waste so that transportation of compostable waste does not cause further emission of greenhouse gases.
18. What industry should Oakland focus on developing, and why?
See response to prior question on industries to pursue in support of the economic development plan.
The Coliseum and The Sports Industry in Oakland.
(A special section because Oakland has a multi-billion-dollar facility called The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex.)
19. Where should the Oakland A’s new ballpark be: Coliseum or Howard Terminal?
Howard Terminal! Howard Terminal is one-of-a-kind location that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It has the potential to be the iconic ballpark in all of MLB. In addition, the city should work with regional transit entities (i.e., BART, Amtrak, and AC Transit) to make Howard Terminal the East Bay Transit Hub.
20. What should the future of the Oakland Coliseum be, and do you have a plan to share with Oaklanders?
There are many ways that the Oakland Coliseum can be re-purposed. However, the #1 priority in determining its future should be involving the immediate surrounding communities. As such, I would spearhead a series of town hall meetings to seek input from the surrounding communities.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media