As a note, the video is of the forum is used because I don’t yet have a vlog interview with Ms. Middleton. Once that is done, it will replace the 53-minute forum video.
2018 Oakland Mayoral And City Council Candidate Questionnaire by Zennie62Media
This 20-question questionnaire was designed to give Oaklanders a chance to evaluate, at once, the plans and philosophies 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 City Council District Six Candidate Natasha Middleton
1. Candidate’s Full Name and current occupation
Natasha Middleton – Candidate for Oakland City Council District 6
Current Occupation – Management Analyst with Alameda County Probation Department
2. Why are you running for office in Oakland?
I’m a proud mom and public safety professional with a focus on public policy. I have lived in Oakland for over 20 years and in District 6 for almost 9 years. I went back to school when my son was a teenager and got a Master’s in Public Policy from Mills College. I wrote my thesis on priority-based budgeting for the City of Oakland Budget Advisory Committee.
I’m also a serious problem-solver – and I’m running because we need more problem-solving and less infighting on City Council right now.
I’ve worked closely with our Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils, managed multi-million dollar projects to reduce crime and delinquency among at-risk youth, served on the Measure Z Public Safety Commission, and co-organized a program to share healthy, home-prepared food with homeless people.
I know how to build consensus around complex issues – in order to get things done. That’s what it will take to solve our incredibly complex issues that impact everything from housing to public health to job creation. We must not only get our own house in order, but also work well with our regional partners to solve our challenges. I hope I can earn your support so that we can keep Oakland moving.
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
Yes: Commissioner, City of Oakland Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Oversight
Commission (Measure Z) — Appointed position (2016–2018)
5. What endorsements have you received? If so, please list them.
● Black Women Organizing for Political Action (BWOPA)
● Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County (#1)
● Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (Sole endorsement)
● District Council 16 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (Sole endorsement)
● International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 595 (Sole endorsement)
● Iron Workers Local 378 (Sole endorsement)
● Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104 (Sole endorsement)
● Teamsters, Joint Council 7 (#1)
● Alameda County Democratic Lawyers’ Committee (Sole endorsement)
● East Bay Women’s Political Alliance
● East Bay Residents for Responsible Development
● East Bay Animal PAC
● East Bay Times (#2)
● Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte (#2)
● Block by Block Organizing Network (#2)
● Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club (#2)
● State Senator Nancy Skinner
● State Assemblymember Rob Bonta
● State Assemblymember Tony Thurmond
● Supervisor Nate Miley (#1)
● Lateefah Simon, Bart Board of Directors, District 7
● Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (#2)
● Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington
● Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb (#1)
● Former Port Commissioner Bryan Parker (#1)
● Elaine Brown
● Mayor, City El Cerrito, Gabriel Quinto
● Vice Mayor, City of Alameda, Malia Vella
● Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8, Lori Droste
● Chair, Maxwell Parker Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, Jose Dorado
● Chair, Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Oversight Commission (Measure Z)
● Vice Chair, El Cerrito Planning Commissioner, Carla Hansen
● Commissioner, Oakland Library Advisory Commission, Tyron Jordon
● Former Chair, California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs: Former
President of the API Democratic Caucus of Alameda County, Phong La (#1)
● Secretary San Leandro Democratic Club, Leslie Robertson
Oakland Management Related Questions
6. What are your top six Oakland Budget priorities, and why?
1. Mitigation of the housing crisis
2. Expanding outreach services for homelessness
3. Combating sex trafficking
4. Increasing support for small businesses in District 6 and beyond
5. Cleaning up our streets from abandoned vehicles and illegal dumping
6. Investing in youth by adding more community learning centers with proven after school
I believe these are some of the most pressing issues impacting our city and residents today, and these
will be some of my top priorities when I am elected to City Council this November.
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 support the revenue measures on our local ballot. I also support reforming Prop. 13 so that
commercial property owners pay their fair share. A big priority, for me, is economic development. In District 6, for instance, we are basically stagnant in job growth. That’s why I will work to revitalize our commercial corridors, add more community centers with after-school and tutoring programs, and actively promote District 6 as an emerging hub for nonprofits, small businesses, and tech and community startups. More businesses mean less blight – and more jobs. If we invest in incentives to promote job training and local hiring, we decrease the number of residents at risk of homelessness, increase the number of people who can afford to rent or buy a home, and improve the city’s economy as a whole.
8. How do you propose to solve the problem of the City of Oakland’s unfunded
We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. Other cities are making progress on this issue, like Vallejo and Stockton. We need to increase the amount to pay down the City’s debt.
Oakland Police-Related Questions
9. Does Oakland need to hire more police officers or reduce the number we
have – please explain your answer.
The question is not one of more or less, but how effective our officers are at keeping the peace while maintaining the trust of those whom they serve. We need to change the way we train our police officers, because the current system is not working for many of our residents and disproportionately harming people of color and low-income individuals. I believe OPD needs to increase a stronger connection to the community it serves and be more frequently engaged with community members. When elected to City Council I will immediately add Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils (NCPC) to neighborhoods without one. NCPCs help communities stay informed and connected to OPD by sending out an officer to meet regularly with community members to hear their concerns and provide them with important updates. I believe all neighborhoods in our city should have NCPCs to keep our communities engaged and our police officers accountable, and I will push to implement this when elected.
10.Do you support the work of the current Oakland Police Chief, or is a change
needed? Please explain.
There is always room for improvement. The five district area commanders assigned throughout the City are still the best approach to assessing crime activities and overall coordination.. As City Councilmember I will ensure our police are working to keep the community safe and will work with the area commander(s).
11.Unreported “use-of-force” incidents are a major Oakland Police problem.
How do you propose to solve it?
I fully support our Police Oversight Commission, and when elected I will advocate to bolster the commission, so we have active community members engaged in making sure OPD is keeping their oath to keep our communities safe. Citizens need to feel that their complaints will be dealt with fairly.
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?
Again, I think we have to work diligently to change the way our police officers are trained. We need to continue to ensure that we keep our communities safe. When I’m elected I will consistently hold OPD accountable for their actions and introduce policies that make our police force more trauma-informed and more consistent with the values of our city’s residents.
13.The Oakland Police Department disproportionately stops more people of color, than whites. What’s your plan to stop this problem?
Based on the recent Stanford Study, there clearly need to be improvements made and an assessment of current training standards. Then, reevaluate on an annual basis whether or not any changes have been made to reduce the number of disproportional stops.
14.What’s your plan to stop or curb homelessness in Oakland?
The human cost and public health consequences of homelessness in Oakland continue at crisis
levels. Meanwhile, seniors continue to be pushed out of their homes and families and continue to be priced out of our neighborhoods.
As the next District 6 councilmember, I will fight for more attention to the immediate needs of our district and push Oakland to use its leverage to make real progress on longer term, regional solutions.
My plans are:
● Actively coordinating the handling of immediate needs in District 6 Instituting a weekly
homeless count for District 6 so that we can address immediate needs
● Increasing outreach services to homeless people and improving coordination with county, city and community-based organizations
● Providing adequate housing options for homeless people – temporary and more permanent
options – instead of shifting them from one encampment to the next
15.What’s your plan to cause more affordable housing to be built in Oakland?
My view on affordable housing is the same as healthcare – it’s a right. We need to address that housing is a basic need and affordability is subjective when housing prices and rents are unattainable for current residents of the City of Oakland. Housing should be affordable and accessible for everyone.
We should work to increase affordable housing through Inclusionary zoning requirements with
substantial percentages for affordable units; repeal Costa Hawkins (Yes on 10) and improve rent control; increase tenant protections, especially for unjust evictions; change zoning requirements that effectively discriminate against minorities and lower-income families. I have also called for an evaluation/assessment of D6 housing and property challenges.
I am actively campaigning and taking public positions along the following:
● Reform our zoning laws to allow more density where it makes sense – without further
● We do not have to destroy neighborhood character to find places to build more housing. But
we do need creative thinking and political will to get it done;
● Build on the good starts we have with our inclusionary zoning law, affordable housing trust
funds and Measure KK bond – including supporting Mayor Schaaf’s 17K/17K plan;
● Intentionally work toward regional solutions – either through partnerships with other cities and counties or through pushing for action at the state level. For example, one of the candidates for assembly in AD15 has proposed creating regional housing trust funds, that would be funded by cities and counties who fail to meet their affordable housing obligations (e.g., Marin County) and benefit jurisdictions like Oakland that are eager to build more affordable housing. Ensure that Alameda County’s Measure A-1 allocations are accessible to D6;
● Preserve existing affordable housing by enhancing anti-displacement efforts;
● Look at our city budget from a priorities viewpoint. And to clarify, I am not proposing the
standard political answer about cutting waste (though we should always cut waste). I am
talking about auditing our resources and, together as a city, taking a hard look at our priorities and making sure our investments reflect them.
And, of course, I have publicly advocated and am publicly advocating for the repeal of Costa Hawkins.
16.What’s your plan to stop or curb illegal dumping in Oakland?
In order to make our streets safer, we first have to make them cleaner. This means Identifying and removing abandoned vehicles and illegal dumping from our neighborhoods. In just one weekend this summer, OPD towed over 350 abandoned vehicles in the city. This is unacceptable, and when I’m elected I will make sure we expand efforts to get these abandoned vehicles off our streets. Illegal dumping is also littering our streets. In the last five years, illegal dumping in our city has doubled. The Mayor has responded by increasing enforcement and implementing an illegal dumping pick-up crew. I want to expand efforts to fight illegal dumping, including incentives for local transfer stations to increase pick-ups, increasing participation in the bulky waste collection program, improving the efficiency of cleanup efforts and getting smarter about identifying violations. I also want to continue
expanding beautification efforts in District 6 and addressing blight and reducing the number of empty lots.
Economic Development In Oakland
17.Share with us your economic development plan and policy for Oakland.
If our leaders put aside the distractions and focus on moving District 6 forward, we won’t have to wait for more opportunity; we can make it happen ourselves by investing in our people and creating a vibrant community in which small businesses can thrive.
My plan includes:
● Investing in people
○ Adding more community and learning centers with proven after school and tutoring
○ Supporting cultural centers such as the Black Cultural Zone
○ Fostering partnerships with schools, businesses and Labor to create more opportunities
for job training and increasing youth employment
○ Attracting more community-based organizations to locate in District 6 so that important
services are more accessible to local residents
○ Making District 6 a model for equity-based entrepreneurial opportunities. Actively
working to promote equity in emerging opportunity industries such as cannabis
● Helping small businesses
○ Helping existing small businesses in District 6 grow
○ Improving the Business Sustainability Program to help small businesses survive
disruption and loss of revenue from construction of the Bus Rapid Transit Line on
○ Actively promoting District 6 as a place for new small businesses
○ Actively promoting District 6 as a potential community, tech and innovation hub
○ Increasing the number of business improvement districts, which will lead to more jobs
and vibrant and viable communities
○ Actively coordinating with all chambers of commerce, neighborhood groups and the
business community for input and workable solutions
18.What industry should Oakland focus on developing, and why?
I want to promote District 6 as a potential community tech and innovation hub. For instance, I’d like to see youth training tech organizations in our district which trains residents and gives them the job readiness skills they need to succeed in today’s job market. As City Councilmember I will support local tech startups and advocate strongly that they hire locally and provide training and soft skills to boost our local economy. If we invest in incentives to promote job training and local hiring, we decrease the number of residents at risk of homelessness and increase the number of people who can afford to rent or buy a home. Oakland has the potential to be a huge hub for technology and innovation while still maintaining our diversity and cultural identity. We can do this (and have done this) by requiring incoming tech businesses to hire locally to give back to our community and respect our history and
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
Keep the A’s in Oakland. Oakland cannot afford to lose another sports team.
20.What should the future of the Oakland Coliseum be, and do you have a plan
to share with Oaklanders?
At this time and since the Coliseum is located in District 7, I do not have a plan for
the Oakland Coliseum. However, if the A’s end up at Howard Terminal, the area definitely needs to be occupied. The job losses would be devastating to not only District 7, but also potentially nearby District 6 residents..
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media