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 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 Election Candidate Mayor Libby Schaaf
1. Candidate’s Full Name and current occupation
Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland
2. Why are you running for office in Oakland?
Born and raised in Oakland, I’m a Skyline High grad and proud mother of two Oakland public school students. I’ve dedicated my life to serving and celebrating our incredible city – as a lifelong community volunteer and activist, non-profit and public sector executive and policymaker. I’m running for Mayor to see my city thrive and to continue fighting racism, protecting our most vulnerable residents and championing Oakland values. I’m running so I can continue to bring people together to deliver results and resources for our city, like our success in securing millions from state government and charities to address homelessness and education. I’m running to scale and sustain the Oakland Promise, which has already sent more than 1,000 Oakland kids to college with scholarships and mentors and is helping our most struggling families with college savings account, financial empowerment supports and, if Measure AA passes this November, free quality preschool. I’m running to ensure we keep the promises of Measure KK, which we got passed overwhelmingly in 2016, to start fixing local roads and public facilities. I’m running to continue to reduce crime, reduce police racial profiling and use of force, strengthen renter protections, build innovative Tuff Shed Cabin Communities, Rapid Rehousing Centers and permanent supportive housing for our unsheltered residents and fight displacement by completing implementation of the 17K/17K Housing Plan. I’m running to make Oakland a more equitable city – with access to preschool for all Oakland youth; safe, trash-free streets; innovative homelessness prevention; Oakland-grown businesses and arts; and much more protected affordable housing.
3. Have you held an elected position before? If so, please describe.
Yes, I was elected Mayor of Oakland in 2014 and was elected to the City Council in 2010. While I was on the City Council, I was appointed Chair of Finance Committee and has served on all six Council Committees.
4. Have you ever served on a public board or commission? If so, please list assignments.
Yes, I currently serve on MTC, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission overseeing billions in regional transportation funding; as well as Co-chair of the Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority. Previously, I was an Appointed Commissioner for the Chabort Space and Science Center Joint Powers Authority, Port of Oakland Public Art Committee and the City of Oakland Community Action Partnership. I also served as an alternate on the Oakland Base Re-use Authority.
5. What endorsements have you received? If so, please list them.
Alameda County Democratic Party
The Sierra Club
The San Francisco Chronicle
East Bay Times
Bay Area Reporter
Stonewall Democratic Club
Brownie Mary Democratic Club
East Bay Women’s Political Alliance
Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club
Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce OakPac
League of Conservation Voters
Oakland Builders Alliance
Building and Construction Trades Council
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 1546
Teamsters Local 70
Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte
Iron Workers Local No. 378
Oakland Citizens for Equity and Prosperity
Teamsters Joint Council 7
East Bay Animal PAC
Black Young Democrats of East Bay
Metropolitan Greater Oakland Democratic Club
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
Governor Jerry Brown
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
State Controller Betty Yee
State Senator Nancy Skinner
California Assemblymember Tony Thurmond
California Assemblymember Rob Bonta
Mayor of San Francisco London Breed
Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb
Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid
Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen
Oakland City Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington
Former Oakland City Councilmember Pat Kernighan
Former Oakland Planning Commissioner Jim Moore
Director, BART Board District 3 Rebecca Saltzman
Peralta Community College Trustee Bill Riley
Peralta Community College Trustee Julina Bonilla
Director, East Bay MUD Bill Paterson
Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commissioner Chris Kidd
Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Former Chair Jonathan Bair
Board Member, California Wellness Foundation; Former Director, Alameda County Public Health Department; Community Leader Arnold Perkins
Former Chair, Alameda County – Oakland Community Action Partnership Gladys Green
Executive Director of Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California Amie Fishman
PolicyLink Founder Angela Glover Blackwell
President of the Greenlining Institute Orson Aguilar
Founder of Code for America & Mini Maker Faire Jennifer Pahlka
CFO, GPB Scientific Lee Aurich
Senior Program Officer at East Bay Community Foundation Dan Quigley
Former Member of the Democratic Central Committee Andy Kelley
Emerge America President and Founder Andrea Dew Steele
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society Director John A. Powell
Education Activist Cynthia Adams
State political director of AFSCME 3299, Julie Waters
World Renowned Sculptor, Bruce Beasley
California Coastal Conservancy, Joan Cardelino
Co-founder Burning Man Festival, John Law
*Titles for identification purposes only.
Oakland Management Related Questions
6. What are your top six Oakland Budget priorities, and why?
My top six budget priorities are 1) housing, 2) homelessness, 3) safe and clean streets, 4) education, 5) public safety, and 6) tackling Oakland’s unfunded liabilities.
Addressing Housing Affordability & Homelessness: Oakland is facing a housing affordability crisis. That’s why we came together in 2016 to pass city and county measures that protect affordable housing and expand new affordable construction. And that’s why I launched the 17K/17K plan, which is on track to provide 17,000 new units of housing and protect 17,000 residents from displacement by 2024. We’re pulling in regional partnerships to bring an end to homelessness. This includes preventing homelessness in the first place with emergency rental assistance, as well as building more permanent supportive and affordable housing for our lowest income residents. I am incredibly proud that we announced on Monday, October 15th a brand new, $9 million fund to provide emergency rent assistance to low income residents and free legal representation to tenants fighting eviction. Residents can now access this help by simply dialing 2-1-1. The solution to homelessness also includes an effective and compassionate approach to street-level homelessness, including mobile outreach and sanitation services, opening a new Rapid Rehousing Center, as well as innovations like our Tuff Shed Shelter program. I am incredibly grateful that the residents of Oakland came together in 2018 to approve two bond measures, A1 and KK, that together will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for affordable housing construction and preservation.
I am committed to ensuring everyone lives in a beautiful neighborhood with safe, clean public spaces and streets by working towards putting an end to illegal dumping in our city. We’ve added more pick up crews and added more trucks and specialized equipment to remove trash from dump sites and stepped up enforcement. We have added new pedestrian crossings and miles of bike lanes to make the streets safe for all road users. This summer we repaved more of Oakland’s streets than ever before, thanks to Measure KK, an infrastructure bond measure I successfully championed in 2016. I have and will continue to work closely with our partners at BART and other transit agencies to ensure that safe, affordable, and comprehensive transit service is available to all Oakland residents.
As your Mayor, I have worked to employ all proven best practices to ensure more children in Oakland get the expectations, resources, and skills they need to ensure success in college, community and career. Education is strong social determinant of health and driver of economic empowerment. Historically, only 10% of OUSD 9th graders were earning college degrees by age 23. This was clearly unacceptable, and in coalition with our partners in OUSD and the community, we launched the Oakland Promise to address this issue. We’ve raised millions of dollars to send thousands of Oakland kids to college and community college with scholarships and mentors. We’ve eased the stress for our most struggling parents by giving them college savings accounts, immediate financial assistance and financial coaching and, if Measure AA passes this November, free quality pre-school. And it’s working — with double digit increases in college enrollment for our African American and Latino students.
Public safety has also been a major focus of my administration, and that means investing in community-driven programs like Ceasefire, which connect those most at risk of committing violence to education and job opportunities. During the past five years, shootings in Oakland are down more than 50%, and independent evaluations of Ceasefire have shown it to be a major factor in this decline. Public safety also means investing in education and job opportunities, as we have with the Oakland Promise and the Mayor’s summer job program for youth, which has provided jobs and internships to thousands of Oakland students.
Finally, no discussion of our budget priorities would be complete without making sure Oakland stays on top of its pension and retirement obligations and keeps its promises to its retirees. This is why for the first time in years, my administration has set aside funding in the budget to pay down our unfunded liabilities. We have also begun setting aside money in a rainy day fund to prevent devastating service cutbacks during the next economic recession.
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 have been a strong champion of increased revenue measures during my time as Mayor, including Measure KK in 2016. I also supported the measure to increase additional revenue for the library system this past June. I have committed to work with stakeholders to update our Lighting and Landscaping Assessment District in a 2020 ballot measure to ensure that we keep up with the costs of our lighting, infrastructure, and urban forestry expenses. We will also continue to support the growth of local small businesses, as we have through the Kiva loan program to Oakland-grown entrepreneurs, to help grow our sales tax base and create quality local jobs.
8. How do you propose to solve the problem of the City of Oakland’s under-funded pension liability?
The complexities of stabilizing Oakland’s finances is a challenge I’ve been unafraid to take on since entering public office nearly 8 years ago. I wrote Oakland’s first Rainy Day Policy, which has started — for the first time ever — putting excess real estate transfer taxes into a vital services stabilization fund and paying down our future unfunded liabilities. This fiscally responsible step was among the reasons why S&P recently upgraded Oakland’s bond rating to AA. It is critically important that we keep our promises to city employees, and during my second term as Mayor I look forward to working with the city unions to negotiate a comprehensive long term plan to finish bridging our pension gap, based on an independent study that is currently underway. In the East Bay Times’ recent endorsement, they said I was the only candidate in the race who understood the city’s finances, and I will use this knowledge to ensure we have a healthy city budget at all times.
Oakland Police-Related Questions
9. Does Oakland need to hire more police officers or reduce the number we have – please explain your answer.
First off, I would like to make it very clear that public safety is about so much more than policing. This is why during the past four years I’ve tripled the number of life coaches available to help those most at risk of violence and why we have created college and career centers in schools across Oakland to ensure that all young Oaklanders have the opportunity to imagine and plan for a bright future.
As for the number of police officers, I believe we should hold the current budgeted amount at 794 and focus on filling the authorized positions we currently have. We must never sacrifice quality for quantity, so our focus will remain on identifying and recruiting the best candidates to fill our force to authorized levels. At this level, we have enough officers to respond to 911 calls, investigate crimes, and maintain critical special assignments such as the neighborhood-assigned Problem Solving Officers and officers tasked with tackling human trafficking and getting illegal guns off the street.
10. Do you support the work of the current Oakland Police Chief, or is a change needed? Please explain.
I support the work of our Chief Anne Kirkpatrick as she is making a positive impact in changing the culture of our police force and in ensuring effective community based policing strategies in Oakland. She continues to be a key partner in our work to further reduce racial disparities in policing practices, and has been an active and responsive listener to community concerns.
11. Unreported “use-of-force” incidents are a major Oakland Police problem. How do you propose to solve it?
Our police data and statistics must be trustworthy and beyond reproach. Constant training, policy review and audits are a critical need to ensure that our data is accurate and that we are analyzing it and taking the action it calls for. Our current auditing process by the Office of Inspector General revealed the recently discovered discrepancy in low level use of force reporting, showing just how important this function is. I look forward to continuing to work with the Police Commission to ensure that all residents have faith in the complaint process, as well as an independent Inspector General. Making better use of auditing body camera footage is another method of auditing practices and ensuring accurate reporting as well as identifying new policy needs.
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?
My goal is simple: ensure that we have an effective police department that is trusted by the entire community and is the most progressive and has the most racially unbiased practices in the country. Our work with Stanford’s Dr. Jennifer Eberhart, data collection and analysis, early warning systems, risk management monitoring, policy changes, training and other strategies is working towards this goal. A natural consequence of the work underway will be to satisfy all the benchmarks of the settlement agreement and finish federal supervision.
13. The Oakland Police Department disproportionately stops more people of color, than whites. What’s your plan to stop this problem?
This is a complicated and serious problem that requires multiple strategies. During my time as Mayor, Oakland has partnered with Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt to study how the police interact with the community and identify the best ways to change officer behavior. Chief Kirkpatrick’s precision policing policies have led to dramatic declines in the numbers of African Americans and Latinos stopped. The next step will be to modify our policies around stopping persons on probation or parole. We also have comprehensive training programs for officers about implicit bias and procedural justice, and have one of the longest police academy programs in the country for new recruits. We are also working hard to increase the proportion of officers who are Oakland residents through aggressive recruiting outreach in local schools and community colleges.
Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Quality of Life In Oakland
14. What’s your plan to stop or curb homelessness in Oakland?
Tackling homelessness requires a combination of solutions — emergency care, rapid rehousing, permanent affordable housing and homelessness/displacement prevention.
First, we need to provide immediate assistance to those on the street, which we have already begun to done through partnering with Lava Mae to provide mobile showers, as well as by establishing the Tuff Shed Cabin Communities program to get the homeless off the street and into a safe and secure residence that they have the key to (and are free to come and go whenever they want). Although we are on track to open Oakland’s first year-round homeless shelter by the end of the year, the Tuff Shed Communities are better for many homeless residents because they include room for the residents to store their possessions and because they help transition the homeless into permanent supportive housing. Thanks to an unprecedented $8.7 million allocation from the state budget that I directly helped secure, we will be expanding this successful intervention to help hundreds more unsheltered residents. We are also partnering with the faith community to create supported safe parking sites for those living in their cars or RVs.
We are also opening by the end of the year a second Rapid Rehousing Center to help transition more homeless residents into permanent supportive housing. Our current Henry Robinson Rapid Rehousing center operated by Bay Area Community Services has an 88% rate of exits to permanent housing.
We also need to prevent homelessness in the first place. This is why I just launched a $9 million eviction prevention fund by the end of the year that will enable residents to catch up on back rent and stay in their homes. This is also why we have come together to raise hundreds of millions in funding for affordable housing to expand Oakland’s supply of affordable housing, as well as passed Oakland’s first Impact Fees, so the new housing you see being built today must either include affordable units, or pay to build them elsewhere.
I have also been a strong supporter of measures to expand tenant protections to owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes, as well as passing Prop 10 so we can pursue more aggressive tenant protections.
This is also a fundamentally regional issue, which is why I continue to work with local leaders around the Bay Area and state leaders to pursue a regional solution to this issue through my leadership of CASA: The Committee to House the Bay Area. I also am a founding Mayor of Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment, which is lobbying federal policy makers to improve housing funding and programs.
15. What’s your plan to cause more affordable housing to be built in Oakland?
Upon becoming Mayor I convened our first Housing Cabinet, which launched the 17K/17K plan to protect 17,000 Oakland households from displacement and produce 17,000 new units of housing. Thanks to the generosity of Oakland’s voters, we came together in 2016 to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in bond funding for affordable housing with measures A1 and KK. During my time as Mayor, Oakland instituted its first ever affordable housing impact fee, which will raise millions of dollars more. I have also strongly advocated for more affordable housing funding at the state level and am glad that our lobbying helped result in the placement of a multi-billion dollar affordable housing bond, Proposition 1, being placed on the November ballot.
I’ve prioritized the conversion of existing unprotected housing into protected affordable housing — we’ve converted more than 300 units over the past two years — and will be introducing state legislation this year to make more conversions easier. We’ve also launched an only-in-Oakland landlord incentive program with the Oakland Housing Authority that has doubled the number of families who successfully found section 8 units in Oakland this year.
In addition to raising these funds for new affordable housing construction and protecting existing affordable housing through deed restrictions and stronger rent control provisions, we have promoted the construction of more naturally affordable housing by loosening the rules for adding in-law units (changes which has led to hundreds of new units being permitted). In my second term, we will also revisit the zoning in some single-family neighborhoods to allow for by-right conversions of houses into duplexes, which is a great way to add affordable housing in areas it is not currently found.
16. What’s your plan to stop or curb illegal dumping in Oakland?
Everyone deserves safe, clean streets. The explosion of illegal dumping in East and West Oakland is completely unacceptable and threatens residents’ public health. I am committed to ensuring everyone lives in a beautiful neighborhood with safe, clean public spaces and streets by working towards putting an end to illegal dumping in our city. We’ve added more clean-up crews and new equipment to remove trash and stepped up enforcement on people who pollute our neighborhoods. We recently launched a landlord education campaign, as well as our popular Bulky Block Parties to give Oakland residents free, convenient ways to dispose of large items. This increased dumping and trash abatement efforts will be instrumental in both improving the quality of life for our citizens and for upholding Oakland’s obligations to keep trash out of our waterways and Bay. We are bringing back Litter Enforcement Officers to investigate and hold more dumpers accountable. We’ve contracted with an advertising firm to develop an educational campaign to discourage unacceptable behavior. We renewed our county contract so that people working off fines can help us clean up our city. And we’re launching a Adopt a Hot Spot program, where organizations take on some of our worst dumping hot spots, using special tactics. The first one of these will be adopted by Supervisor Nate Miley.
Economic Development In Oakland
17. Share with us your economic development plan and policy for Oakland.
I fiercely believe that right now we have a unique opportunity to grow Oakland while keeping the Oakland we love and know intact. Many people from around the Bay Area and beyond are seeking to move to Oakland, and while this creates certain opportunities it also generates considerable affordability pressures on long-time residents and businesses. We need to pursue development strategies that accommodate growth while protecting the people who make Oakland so extraordinary. Our recently released Economic Development Strategy is all about keeping Oakland Oakland.
A key part of this effort is finding a sustainable way to accommodate more housing and commercial development, and this means we’re going to have to continue pursuing infill office and residential projects like the ones we have already seen in progress downtown. However, when new housing is built and new companies move in, we need to make sure it also helps the people who are already here.
We focus our attraction efforts on companies that share our values — including mission-driven companies, with minority founders, who have a tangible commitment to a diverse workforce and supporting the local economy. Many of these are home-grown. As Mayor, I’ve facilitated attracting and growing these tech-done-right companies through our participation in www.oaklandstartup.org., led by the Kapor Center for Social Impact.
And we’re nurturing a local, diverse tech workforce through our launch of www.techhireoakland.org . Also our $7 million partnership with Salesforce.org, which has doubled the number of middle school students receiving computer science education each of three years, and launch of www.oaklandpromise.org are all about ensuring that Oakland youth are prepared to take full advantage of employment opportunities in the tech sector.
When Uber decided to move part of its headquarters to Oakland, I refused to give them tax breaks and sent them a public letter laying out my expectations for how they should support our community and values: having a diverse and inclusive workforce and leadership, actively helping to train the future diverse tech workforce from Oakland, purchasing goods and services from local, minority-owned and social impact companies, facilitating local employee volunteering and giving generously to local nonprofits.
I’ve often talked about this concept as “techquity” — providing equitable access to top-notch training and jobs for our residents and fostering our local technology sector’s growth so it leads to shared prosperity. As well as the promise that technology can be a tool for achieving social equity.
We connect tech companies with socially-responsible small Oakland businesses that can provide their goods and services — like Red Bay Coffee, a worker-owned cooperative employing mostly formerly incarcerated workers.
We are strengthening these Oakland-grown mission-driven companies with a range of supports, including our innovative www.kiva.org/oakland zero interest crowd-sourced lending program. I’ve been excited to lead Kiva’s most successful partnership with a US city. Thanks to Kiva Oakland, more than 565 Oakland entrepreneurs who could not access traditional financing have received zero-interest loans through this partnership — more than 70 percent of whom are women and 90 percent of whom are persons of color.
In my second term, I intend to pursue additional opportunities to ensure development fits with Oakland’s priorities, such as the creation of “cultural district” zoning, as well as requirements and incentives that will help prevent the displacement of Oakland’s small businesses as well as cultural and nonprofit organizations.
Along with these initiatives, we must continue to pursue new opportunities to support walkable and mixed-use neighborhoods in Oakland. We have already made considerable progress with the approval of new housing development near certain BART stations and with the expansion of bicycle lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to promote mobility, safety and neighborhood cohesion. In my second term, we should build on this progress by looking at opportunities to support new higher density development around Oakland’s other BART stations and by exploring ways to accommodate additional housing in our low-density residential neighborhoods.
18. What industry should Oakland focus on developing, and why?
I believe that Oakland should develop a variety of industries to ensure that we have a robust economic base that is resilient against economic downturns in any single industry and that provides good jobs to all Oaklanders. This is why I have supported the use of our zoning regulations to protect our traditional industrial spaces and uses from encroachment by newer industries such as the marijuana industry. At the same time, we have worked aggressively to develop the marijuana industry in an equitable way that ensures that those most negatively impacted by the drug war are able to benefit from legalization. Healthcare, construction and food manufacturing are all strong job creators that offer living wages for our residents and have a strong presence now as well as growth opportunities. Tourism remains a major industry in Oakland due to our outstanding cultural and natural amenities, and we have launched successful outreach through Visit Oakland to bring even more visitors to our city. The Port of Oakland is one of the busiest entry and exit points for goods on the West Coast, and supports thousands of quality jobs. We will continue to remediate the environmental impacts of the port while ensuring it remains an economic hub. Finally, we should continue to work with the arriving technology and professional businesses to have them contract with socially responsible Oakland small businesses for their needs. In doing so, we can ensure that the arrival of new tech companies and offices is a boon for the small businesses that drive the Oakland economy and employ so many of our local residents.
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?
I am primarily focused on keeping the A’s in Oakland and on ensuring that the new privately-financed ballpark will be responsible to all stakeholders and enhance the vitality of whichever neighborhood it calls home. I have a slight preference for Howard Terminal because I believe it would be a world-class location that would provide a great experience for the fans and help anchor new residential and business development in that area, but I will be just as happy celebrating opening day in 2023 at a new ballpark at the Coliseum.
20. What should the future of the Oakland Coliseum be, and do you have a plan to share with Oaklanders?
I am glad that we have completed a Coliseum specific plan that has cleared the environmental approvals for a mix of affordable housing, retail, hotel, entertainment and business uses. The precise breakdown of housing and employment uses should be determined after a rigorous community-driven planning process that ensures that the needs of locals are properly incorporated into the final plan. Assuming for a moment that the new A’s stadium is located at Howard Terminal, I personally like the idea of including a youth sports development facility at the Coliseum site because it would be a good source of jobs and would preserve the sporting heritage of the site. Any plan for the future of the Oakland Coliseum site should be sure to provide accessible, quality employment opportunities for Oaklanders and robust community benefits.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media