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 Four Candidate Nayeli Maxson
1. Candidate’s Full Name and current occupation
Nayeli Maxson; Executive Director, Alliance for Community Development
2. Why are you running for office in Oakland?
I am running to be the next District 4 Oakland City Councilmember for two reasons: (1) I
know how to better support local problem solvers and entrepreneurs who create community-driven solutions and (2) I have experienced the consequences of moving too slow in preventing displacement and protecting low-income people, and people of color, and know I must act now, with everything I have, to preserve the beauty of Oakland I see in our neighborhoods today.
We are facing an unprecedented onslaught of challenges. Community members are being pushed out of their homes and communities, resilient, multi-generational networks are fragmenting, our elders struggle to survive, our young people have limited access to employment and opportunity, community conflict wherein individuals call police to report non-violent, low level neighborhood issues continues, income and wealth inequality, particularly when looking at income in communities of color and immigrant communities, is staggering.
To address these challenges, I believe the most powerful action is built by a community, for their community. In both District 4 and city-wide, the most compelling, outcome-driven solutions are community-led, community-centered, and community-driven. These solutions take investment of community time and energy, but with that investment comes critical buy-in. I find these solutions are rooted in love for family, friends, and neighbors, and often have inclusion, access, and equity baked in from the beginning.
I have seen this driven, solutions-oriented thinking in two groups: in District 4 problem solvers (resilient, highly organized, resolute volunteer community comprised mostly of older residents, varying in income level) and in the diverse entrepreneurs I have worked with for years citywide (a highly creative, determined, resourceful low-income community seeking economic independence and empowerment). These impact-driven community members have much in common. I have listened to both groups intently over the years and by and large, they are inspiring independent thinkers, frustrated by their interactions with the City of Oakland. When they reach a point in their development when interaction with the city becomes crucial, they express concern that city-engagement will hinder, rather than help them build their vision.
Second, it is most powerful when the individuals sitting in representative government represents the lived experience of the people they are asked to represent. Although District 4 is viewed as a wealthy district, I know from speaking with District 4 residents and getting to know them well that there is financial hardship in this district. We are living in one of the most extreme times of wealth inequality and very few Bay Area residents feel they are safe from displacement. It’s important that the individuals holding these council seats understand through first-hand experience the challenges of housing insecurity, poverty, racism, sexism, and classism. It’s critical that we provide solutions that take these experiences into account and prioritize the solutions we know address these issues.
3. Have you held an elected position before? If so, please describe.
I have not held an elected position before.
4. Have you ever served on a public board or commission? If so, please list
I am a current District 4 appointee to the Community Development Block Grant Board for Oakland’s Central District and was elected to act as its Secretary. I also serve in the following positions:
● Nor-Cal FDC, Loan Committee Member
● Court-Appointed Mediator, UC Hastings Mediation Clinic
● Volunteer Constitutional Law Teacher, Fremont High School
● Board Member, Resilient Wellness
● Vice President of Membership, East Bay Young Democrats
● Advisory Board Member, Oakland Grown
5. What endorsements have you received? If so, please list them.
California Young Democrats
Wellstone Democratic Club (#2 recommendation)
East Bay for Everyone
Block By Block Organizing Network
East Bay Young Democrats
Oakland Rising Action (#2)
California Nurses Association (#2)
Sign and Display Union Local 510
Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 104 (#2)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 595 (#2)
Mark Leno, California State Senator (Ret.)
Scott Weiner, California State Senator
Dan Kalb, Oakland City Councilmember, District 1
Jane Brunner, former Oakland City Councilmember and Council President; civil rights
Malia Cohen, President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
Roberta Achtenberg, former Commissioner on U.S. Civil Rights Commission and former
San Francisco Member of the Board of Supervisors
Jean Quan, former District 4 City Councilmember and former Oakland Mayor
Jeanne Woodford, former Director of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation and former warden of San Quentin State Prison
Ed Gerber, Chair of the City of Oakland Budget Advisory Commission; longtime District 4
María D. Domínguez, Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women
Martin Matarrese, Vice Chair of the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District Citizen’s
Advisory Committee; former Parkland Resources Supervisor for the City of Oakland*
Ivan Garcia, Commissioner, Oakland Youth Advisory Commission
James Anthony, former Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission Member representing
Noah Frigault, Oakland community member; former Oakland Rent Board Member
Matt Haney, Commissioner of the San Francisco School Board; Eviction defense attorney;
Former Executive Director of the UC Student Association*
James Chang, Commissioner, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
Buffy Wicks, Candidate for Assembly District 15; Community Organizer
Robbie Neely, Executive Director, Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association*; District 4
Stan Dodson, Community leader; Dimond merchant; Oakland parklands steward
Sue Piper, President of the Oakland Firesafe Council*; former Chair of the Wildfire
Prevention Assessment District Citizen’s Advisory Committee; Former District 4 Oakland
City Council staff
Michael Tigges, Founding Member of Block by Block Organizing Network*; Chairperson of
Montclair Neighborhood Council; District 4 resident
Nicholas Vigilante, Secretary, Montclair Neighborhood Council*; Oakland Firesafe Council
Amelia Marshall, Metropolitan Horseman’s Association historian and board member*
Oakland Heritage Alliance*; Author “East Bay Hills: A Brief History”
Jennifer Joey Smith, former Dimond Improvement Association Co-Chair*; District 4
Harriet Schlader, District 4 resident and leader for over 50 years
Pamela Drake, Oakland Community Leader
Rashidah Grinage, Oakland Community Leader
Phong La (#2) President of the APA Democratic Caucus of Alameda County*
Stan Weisner, Member of Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association*, Youth Alive!*
Toni Gomez, President, East Bay Young Democrats
Alison Grady, Policy Director, East Bay Young Democrats
Ken Lupoff, community leader; Executive Director of Oakland-based nonprofit;
Carolyn Burgess, Oakland resident and community leader
Carolyn Winters, former Chair, Montclair Neighborhood Council*
Daniel Enking, Oakland community member
Bruce Nye, Oakland mediator and attorney
Hadar Aviram, Professor at UC Hastings College of the Law
Jody Colley, Oakland community member
Joyce Meyer, Learning Disabilities Specialist; District 4 resident
Kathy Kahn, community leader and 30-year District 4 resident
Ken Benson, Secretary and Board Member, Oakland Firesafe Council*
Robert Vaughan, District 4 community leader; retired deputy sheriff
Veronica Vaughan, District 4 community leader; retired deputy sheriff
Matthew Shoemaker, District 4 community leader
Pam Jones, Bay Area community leader
Shannon Lankenau, environmental attorney
Ali Schwarz, District 4 resident, 21 year City of Oakland employee
Linton Johnson, business leader; Chief Strategist with Bay Area Rapid Transit*
Jackie Hunter, Business Owner, Kelly’s Corner
Kathleen Caldwell, Owner of A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair
Nina Johnson, longtime District 4 community member and business owner
Shawn Choy, founder of The Food Foundry
Destiny Iwuoma, Oakland entrepreneur
Barbie Penn, entrepreneur, lifelong Oakland resident
Christopher “Zeke” Swepson, entrepreneur, CEO of CodeWalker Institute
Jim Silva, entrepreneur; Principal, Unlock Your Potential!
Frank Mak, entrepreneur; community member
Fatenah Tabar, Owner of Le Rouge in Montclair
Chinmay Singh, CEO of SimplifiMed, Inc.
Laurie Silverman, founder of Culture Lab
Saphonia Foster, founder of La Fostera Co.
Oakland Management Related Questions
6. What are your top six Oakland Budget priorities, and why?
The city of Oakland is obligated to ensure everyone lives and works with dignity, comfort,
and resilience, but it is not currently meeting this obligation. My top six priorities all revolve around this commitment.
● Housing for all
● Public safety
● Fire safety
● Streets and transportation
● Business promotion and empowerment
● Environmental stewardship
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.
It is critical that we begin the conversation by growing our budget over the next 3-5 years by investing in the expansion of our local economy through small business development and entrepreneurship. This investment may be challenging to win support for initially, but with a strong base of community support, and with clear data on the return on investment in terms of both a growing tax base and in terms of anti-displacement efforts, I am confident that we will see a more sustainable growing local economy that will alleviate some of this scarcity.
That being said, there will certainly always be competing demands. That is the reality of any budget process. At the Alliance, one way that I have managed budgetary decisions is by looking at the revenue streams moving forward, investing in those, and thereafter looking at where early-stage investment prevents larger costs at a later date. For example, providing spaces for youth in libraries and parks provides a positive space for young people to engage. Cutting these costs is not logical if you want to increase impact. In terms of large public safety costs, I see the shift in emphasis from sworn to non-sworn personnel and a shifting vision of what policing may look like moving forward (more below) as a key element of decreasing costs without resulting in less safety.
My revenue-generating policies include: (1) Increasing investment in small business development and entrepreneurship support for business districts: people of color, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, low-income individuals; (2) Exploring community benefits agreements with a broader set of constituents here in Oakland; and (3) Identifying the smallest fees in the city and reviewing the identify of the individuals who pay those fees to assess whether or not increases are feasible and equitable.
8. How do you propose to solve the problem of the City of Oakland’s under-funded pension liability?
My father is a public employee who is retired, and as such my family directly understands the importance of long-term retirement security. Pension and health obligations are not merely contractual obligations but moral obligations, which must be honored.
Within unions, we need to take a hard look at the fees the retirement system is paying. These fees can add up significantly.
I believe the union should consider and provide input into the reasonableness of the discount rate due to real market conditions. Our economy is faring well for the moment, but will not necessarily maintain these levels. The discount rate shifts the burden back on the taxpayers and the employees, which we have some control over. We don’t have control over the market. If discount rates are too high, there is a problematic incentive for pension managers to take more risk.
Oakland Police-Related Questions
9. Does Oakland need to hire more police officers or reduce the number we have –
please explain your answer.
Our current policing model expects confrontation, even as so many of our day-to-day safety issues need far different approaches, revolving around social problems, mental health, and substance use.
We need to invest our public safety resources not just in officer headcount, but in staff and
training targeted to our needs: crisis intervention, de-escalation, social work, and
behavioral health intervention and treatment.
I see a path where we may have less than 800 sworn officers, but we see an increase in
non-sworn, civilian employees who support community safety with training in crisis
intervention, de-escalation, social work, substance use treatment, and mental health
treatment. Re-envisioning the roles of “police officer” to be more specific to particular
community needs is a large portion of my vision.
10.Do you support the work of the current Oakland Police Chief, or is a change
needed? Please explain.
I am concerned about some of the specific decisions Anne Kirkpatrick has made to date,
such as the level of disclosure around the events leading to the death of Demouria Hogg.
At the same time, OPD leadership has been in major turmoil, and I believe anyone in this
position needs time to have a fair chance to turn the organization around. I also think a
woman in leadership is a unique asset given the cultural problems we know OPD
management has; experienced women police leaders are notoriously hard to find. I
support carefully monitoring the OPD’s policing outcomes and restructuring, and
empowering the civilian police commission to participate in policymaking, not just
oversight, but would not seek a new police chief unless there is no alternative.
11.Unreported “use-of-force” incidents are a major Oakland Police problem. How do
you propose to solve it?
I support equipping of OPD officers with body cameras for the entirety of their
public-facing shifts, subject to restrictions to protect civilian privacy and officer privacy as recommended by the ACLU. With proper supervision, oversight, and training, I know OPD
officers can be a responsive group for whom use of force is the final resort.
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?
Changes in the entire process from recruitment to selection, from hiring and promotion
decisions to training and incentives for advancement, are in dire need within OPD. We
have a tremendous amount of research available to us around how to best recruit female
officers, how to best train individuals to be interveners in conflict as social workers and
mediators, as opposed to armed warriors, which has been the predominant national
culture within law enforcement.
Simply put, the current prevalent model of policing does not function to serve the community’s needs. For a large percentage of police activity, we need individuals trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution, mediation, communication, and other human behavior-oriented practices. For a smaller percentage, there may be moments in which the more traditional officer training of learning to quickly fire a firearm is appropriate. This ratio, however, and the culture which places disproportionate emphasis on firing of weapons, is not appropriate for our community. In my experience, even individuals within the policing community understand this and are open to seeing changes.
13.The Oakland Police Department disporportionately stops more people of color, than
whites. What’s your plan to stop this problem?
Many of the factors leading to disproportionate stops are well understood: we need more
local recruiting, hiring practices ensuring a diverse workforce, screening and training
against implicit bias are needed. Specifically around police stops, the threshold for stops
needs to be clearly articulated and implemented in policy (“medium-height black male” is
not a description), and monitored. At the same time, community engagement has to be a
major part of the solution. When they are neither connected to their community nor
well-resourced, the workload on well-intentioned police officers will still push them to make
indiscriminate stops as the only measurable output they can achieve. We need to redirect
resources and add civilian support to the point where police can move to the beat model
where they know their neighborhoods and build some connection with them.
We must also follow the lead of Black Lives Matter policy thinkers and overhaul our
quality-of-life legislation. Loitering, jaywalking, loud music, and other activities that
threaten public comfort but not public safety need to be addressed, but not in the “crime”
framework, but under a social model; indeed, criminal enforcement is ineffective in ending
Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Quality of Life In Oakland
14.What’s your plan to stop or curb homelessness in Oakland?
Housing as a human right means everyone, regardless of their social or economic situation, deserves access to a home. In the short term, to take immediate action to make sure everyone is housed in some way, I will invest in, and solicit city partners for, seed funding for proposals which are innovative and scalable, along the lines of the work of local entrepreneur Adam Garrett Clark and his company Tiny Logic which assists wililng property owners and unhoused community members to develop immediate housing solutions on empty portions of existing property.
In the long term, I plan to put increased emphasis with our private sector funding sources
on the root causes and prevention of homelessness, as it is far more efficient with limited
dollars to invest in keeping an individual in their home than paying for the services for a
larger and larger population.
To return people to housing, Oakland needs to sharply increase the support it provides,
from both public and private sources, to supportive, transitional, and affordable housing.
We are seeing that when supportive housing is available unconditionally, people have a
greater ability to marshal their personal resources and embark on recovery, and Oakland
has the potential to make this universality a reality. When looking at models for this
comprehensive recovery effort, I would invite my former colleagues at Options Recovery
Services to the table, as their model is holistic and tested.
I will also support the creation of a homeless person’s bill of rights which would establish a floor in terms of what we agree as a community is acceptable, humane treatment for any
person who is unhoused in Oakland, including suspending or repealing the laws that
effectively criminalize homelessness.
15.What’s your plan to cause more affordable housing to be built in Oakland?
The Bay Area rental and real estate market is increasingly prohibitive due to a lack of
supply and relentless demand. This issue follows a nationwide pattern, but the Bay Area
is on a uniquely high cost trajectory. Other major cities have invested heavily into
affordable housing, or multi-use mixed units, and as a result, prices have decreased. Bay
Area municipal governments do not invest in affordable housing at all, or not nearly at the
rate of other cities. Instead they invest the few incentives available into mid-to-high-end
developments, and as a result rents and house prices continue to climb, creating the
asymmetries we see today in the housing market. In addition, the Bay Area has prevented
the building of market rate housing to keep up with demand, a potential source of tax
dollars to pay for an increase in affordable housing.
For local policymakers to pretend as if this issue is purely macroeconomic, and largely an
unsolvable problem, is just untrue. We must shift our focus from a mindset of scarcity and
look critically at the assets and resources available to us as a city, rezone as necessary,
and increase density around transit hubs.
Building and maintaining affordable housing is critical to solving the housing crisis. I
support a policy that makes use of Oakland’s public land for building deeply affordable
housing, seeking the maximum number of affordable units feasible overall.
In Oakland, energy for affordable housing is drained away by the piecemeal approach the
city takes, forcing activists to fight battle by battle. The current public lands debate is a
start at a new approach, but we need more. Rather than battles over individual CUPs, I
will look toward structures and standards that make affordable projects simple and easy to
pursue without extra approvals, such as more housing-friendly zoning and a dynamic
project template available to such projects.
Maximizing units at all affordability levels across all citywide development requires a
Councilmember who prioritizes relationship development, who is a highly skilled
negotiator, and who has insight into the realities of running a successful business. I bring
all three of these qualities to the table, more so than any other candidate in this race.
I favor interventions to make housing construction/renovation faster and easier and
believe that more proactive and simplified governmental systems will naturally have a
positive impact on market-rate housing. This includes more rational and housing-friendly
zoning, responsive and predictable services from city staff, and working with unions to
increase training in the skilled trades, especially mechanical trades, whose high demand and low supply currently slows projects and makes them more costly.
As Policy Analyst and Community Liaison in the District 4 office, I worked with community
members to help unstick their development projects. In one case, I helped a property owner who needed to redraw a parcel map to build more units on two parcels in the hills of Montclair. In another case, I helped a community organization on moving forward re-zoning in the Dimond business district, but this stalled after my departure from the D4 office; I support continuing this re-zoning effort.
16.What’s your plan to stop or curb illegal dumping in Oakland?
Illegal dumping is one of the most salient items affecting quality of life I hear about
repeatedly going door-to-door in all parts of my district. We urgently need new action and
funding preventing it, and I support movements in that direction, including Measure W
(vacancy tax). At the same time, there is a grounded historical and continuing inequity in
how much people in different neighborhoods expect the city will respond to their requests.
This leads to disproportionate requests coming from the more affluent parts of the city,
and therefore disproportionate service to those neighborhoods. I believe I can be part of
the advocacy and collaboration that turns around this vicious cycle of city service and leads to people everywhere being equally willing to call the city.
In the short term, as we increase anti-dumping resources, we must be conscious of this problem, avoid a dispatching pattern that is 100% complaint-based, and add more city patrolling and monitoring of all neighborhoods.
We must also approach the problem from the prevention point of view, as when the new waste services contract added more large item pickup service, but which services still need expansion and outreach – this added enforcement must not result in more inequitable policing, which a purely penal approach predictably risks. People being evicted and out of options, for example, should not be subject to further fines.
Economic Development In Oakland
17.Share with us your economic development plan and policy for Oakland.
Oakland’s greatest economic assets are our people, our ideas, our intellectual property,
our creativity, our diversity of thought, our culture. Investing in training and capacity
building for these individuals – the core of our essence – is how we demonstrate our strength and build on what is most important to us at the end of the day. This is what
spurs economic growth, grassroots growth that benefits a broader cross-section of the community. This type of growth is connected to reductions in poverty, reductions in
homelessness, reductions in displacement, reductions in crimes associated with poverty, and more of the social challenges we see.
My economic strategy is to redirect existing city resources to help our own community
invest and build wealth equity, which allows community members to stay in their
communities, increase local jobs, and increase city revenue. I was part of a coalition
together with 20 other business support providers which submitted a 40-page report to city
leadership laying out challenges and recommendations for how to better serve all local
business and support all entrepreneurs, specifically aiming to better serve women, people
of color, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ individuals, veterans, and young
people. As a Councilmember, I would continue to support this cause.
18.What industry should Oakland focus on developing, and why?
I believe the educational and technical base in the Bay Area is strong and broad enough
that we do not need to build up one industry. We certainly have strong assets that will help
us in knowledge industries like information technology, biotechnology, creative
enterprises, and clean energy, construction, and renovation. However, I believe Oakland
has a unique ability a model of economic development that is local and human-centered
rather than driven around short-term profit, a model the 21th century needs to survive.
The Oakland tech industry, for example, should not be one that “innovates” by driving
wages in existing jobs to the minimum. I have collaborated in the past in fostering the
growth of socially responsible enterprises such as worker cooperatives and collectives by
developing a city ordinance regularizing their legal status and hope in the future to give
such organizations equitable treatment in city procurement.
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?
Both have pros and cons and I am not settled on either. The Howard Terminal area is
already close to downtown, and could work well with more transit-oriented development.
However, its redevelopment could reduce good Port jobs the city ought to keep. At the
same time, the existing Coliseum area already has this usage as well as a development
plan. If they pick the Howard Terminal, the team should be expected to clean up existing
industrial pollution on the site they choose, mitigate impacts on wildlife, prevent
displacement in associated developments, etc.
My firmest commitment regarding sports stadiums is that they must be built without public
money. National sports is a hugely profitable industry, enjoying government-granted
monopolies, and it can and must stand on its own; we will not be bullied into giving away
resources to line private pockets.
20.What should the future of the Oakland Coliseum be, and do you have a plan to
share with Oaklanders?
Whatever happens with sports teams, the Oakland Coliseum as an area is shamefully
underused given its proximity to transit and its great potential. The Coliseum Area Specific
Plan was adopted in 2015 but has moved forward very little in actual ground being
broken. The broader Coliseum area should combine dense housing surrounding BART
with a high threshold of affordable units, street-level retail, major tenants, and community
spaces into an organic community that accommodates everyone. We should explore ways
to make this vision a reality that are adaptable to different sports location outcomes.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media