Kenzie Smith, target of BBQ Becky, is running for Abel Guillén’s council seat

Kenzie Smith just wanted to enjoy a barbecue with friends at Lake Merritt last month before his life was changed. Video of a woman calling police to break up the party went viral as a ludicrous act of racism in Oakland, and was later immortalized online as #BBQBecky.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan then nominated Smith to the city’s Park and Recreation Advisory Commission. But Smith appears to have eyes on a bigger prize–Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillén’s District 2 seat. On Monday, Smith filed an intent to run in the November election.


Although Smith is a political novice, is has already shown a knack for bringing attention to issues such as racism in Oakland and homelessness. In addition to the BBQ Becky incident, Smith also helped shine a light on video showing a Oakland resident at Lake Merritt, later dubbed #JoggerJoe, angrily throwing a homeless person’s belongings into the trash and partially into the lake.

Smith is also the founder of Dope Era Magazine, which chronicles music and culture in the Bay Area.

The deadline for officially qualifying for the fall campaign is Aug. 10. In addition, to Guillén, who is running for re-election for the first time, Smith joins housing activist Nikki Bas Fortunato as early candidates.


Bas Fortunato made her own splash earlier by raising $43,000 through the first two months of her campaign last year, a total that suggests Guillén’s re-election could be vulnerable. During the last half of 2017, Guillén raised $55,000 in contributions, according to finance records. The addition of Smith, may further upend the math in District 2 because of the city’s Ranked-Choice Voting system.

Categories: Election 2018, Oakland, Oakland City Council, Uncategorized

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7 replies

  1. All Abel needs to do is to show up to win this. Neither of these two are worth worrying about. That being said, Oakland certainly is strange. That is an homage to Jim Morrison.


  2. Isn’t Guillen the guy who auctions off City-owned Warriors tickets to the biggest campaign contributor?
    throw the bum out!


  3. Abel has been the darling of the unions in Oakland. He has consistently been the recipient of their unqualified support. Read that as cash. The unions have bought and paid for Abel. The local LBTQ groups have also provided him with continuous support. The supporters/jockstraps for Jean Quan also supported him. Now, unless he does something really stupid he cannot fail to win again. Look at who is running against. Throw the bum out for whom?


  4. Guillen looks less and less secure. Many of the unions and community groups that supported him in 2014 have decamped to support Nikki Fortunato Bas.

    Now there’s an ethics violation charge against Guillen that could bring him down. Even if he didn’t technically break the law as he claims, he took money from people associated with the luxury developer for the East 12th St. parcel, then voted again and again to support this market rate housing. And he turned his back on the proposal of the East Lake neighbors group for affordable housing. This is not what our community needs!


  5. Eddie, from what I have seen so far, The Unions have not yet abandoned Guillen. He had a lot of heavy hitters contributing massive dollars. So far I have not seen them moving their money to support Fortunato Bas. This will certainly heat up come September.


  6. theomordha, SEIU 1021, UNITE HERE!, IUPAT, CNA, ATU, IFPTE, etc have all gone for Fortunato Bas, not to mention ACCE Action, Bay Rising Action, APEN, etc. – most of progressive Oakland. True Guillen is pulling in more wealthy developer money, but maybe that’s why all these folks have moved over to Bas.


  7. The Unite Here! was a dual endorsement wasn’t it? Thereby nullifying them. Guillen has plenty of labor support. To paint it as all of labor united around Ms. Bas is inaccurate.


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