Alameda has the coolest school board member in the East Bay

Newly-appointed Alameda School Trustee Gray Harris.

ALAMEDA SCHOOL BOARD | Alameda’s newest school board member is striking at first glance. With a set of evenly placed tattoos from her shoulders to her elbows and two-toned shocks of blond and copper hair, Gray Harris draws attention. During an interview at a Park Street coffee shop in September, patrons often glanced up from the computers to catch a glimpse of the statuesque school board member recently appointed to replace the late Niel Tam. “The look,” as she calls it, represents individuality and a timeline of her personal history.

Most like her tattoos, she said, but some are critical of her distinctive look—an assemblage of stars each with differing portraits, including a vintage car, a mermaid, and a drawing of her mother as a cowgirl. Some people tell her, “ ‘You shouldn’t look like this, if you’re going to be on the school board.’ I’m like, why? I don’t understand, as long as you take your job seriously and are professional about it, it shouldn’t matter.”

Harris’ body art is also a way to express herself, she said, along with being a library of the memories associated with her tattoos.

It can also be advantageous for Harris in the typically staid world of school board politics. “People can be dismissive of women,” Harris said. “Why does Hillary Clinton have to wear those weird suits? Because she’s a female candidate, and if she just dresses like whatever, she wouldn’t have a chance. There’s this idea of how women should be, and I don’t think it’s true.” She believes her look can be intimidating to some. “If I wasn’t confident and didn’t have my own thing going on, I think it would be easy for some people to discount me. I use it to my advantage.”

Those who understand the local dynamics of Alameda politics know not to discount Harris and her extensive resumé. Few people have their political ducks in better order than Harris. It’s a background with ties to the local Democratic Party apparatus, Alameda Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and various powerful unions that make her formidable, not only as a school board candidate but also as a higher officeholder one day. On that matter, Harris said she is focused only on the school board and campaigning for re-election next year. Her appointment fills out the remaining year of Tam’s term.

But it’s not hard to extrapolate the fundraising power and access to campaign foot soldiers she could tap, thanks to a stint as Alameda Education Association union president and through leadership with the statewide California Teachers Association. For the past two years, Harris has also served as co-president of the Alameda Democratic Club. And there is another connection that rankles some of Alameda’s more moderate-to-conservative residents: Harris is also romantically connected to firebrand Alameda firefighter’s union president Jeff Del Bono. It’s a fact that anti-union voices derisively cite as Harris literally being in bed with the unions…


Categories: Alameda, Alameda Firefighters, Alameda Magazine, Alameda School Board, California Teachers Association, education, Gary Lym, Jeff Del Bono, Niel Tam, Rob Bonta, teachers union, Trish Spencer

3 replies

  1. Tavares I have a big tattoo on my big ass and I am the barista in Alameda. Can you do a story about me. You can call it:

    Coolest Baristas: Starbucks and Tats of Alameda


  2. đồng tâm
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    Bất quá Bạch Vũ lại hiểu lầm hắn, e là hắn lại muốn như đêm qua, thi triển ngũ trảo cầm… ‘nhũ’ của nàng. Bạch Vũ không đồng ý nói: “Nói cái gì thì nói ở đây cũng được mà.”
    Quả nhiên là nghi ngờ nhân phẩm của ta. Lưu Phong cảm thấy buồn bực. Bất quá suy nghĩ lại thì hành động đêm qua của hắn mà muốn nàng tin tưởng thì cũng thật là khó. Nhưng việc hôm nay tuyệt không thể đứng đây mà nói được.
    “Tiểu muội, muội đừng hiểu lầm. Hôm nay huynh và muội sẽ nói về một chuyện rất quan trọng, có liên quan đến sự việc giữa Ma giáo và Bạch gia của muội.” Lưu Phong nghiêm trang nói.

    Bạch Vũ do dự một chút cuối cùng cũng đồng ý theo hắn vào phòng.

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    Tiểu Linh nhi bĩu môi, ý không vui nói: “Không phải là đại ca ca, mà là ba ba, ba ba đã đáp ứng làm cha của Linh nhi.”


  3. By MW:

    While she might be very neat, cool, with it, and hip, or at least by East Bay standards, however I seriously doubt that she is nearly as neat, cool, with it, and hip as some of the politicians that in recent decades have infested San Francisco.

    But than Alameda County, and in recent decades as it has gotten more and more corrupt, and started to at least resemble SF somewhat, and to the point that we ought to rename Alameda County San Francisco South, is still the minor leagues compared to SF when it comes to fraud, corruption, sleaze, surface charm, and phoniness, and although in recent decades we have been making a lot of “progress” in approaching SF in those categories, and I suspect that in another ten or twenty years AC politics will very likely be just as sleazy and corrupt as SF's.


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