Six candidates, including incumbent Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, will vie for the Oakland City Council District 3 seat this fall. Five are seeking to replace retiring District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid, and at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s re-election faces a potentially potent challenger in restaurateur Derreck Johnson. In addition, the beleaguered Oakland school board is in for a major makeover with a large field of candidates in all four open seats.
In an Oakland election season bound to focus on police accountability, defunding the Oakland Police Department, the recession, covid-19, and the fate of the Oakland Athletics waterfront ballpark, McElhaney’s West Oakland District 3 will be affected by each of these issues. And with Oakland’s use of ranked-choice voting, McElhaney’s could be the incumbent councilmember with the toughest road to re-election this fall.
Five challengers hope to unseat the two-term councilmember. Her main opponent appears to be Carroll Fife, the director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Fife’s long-time advocacy for affordable housing in Oakland and accountability for OPD, along with her prolific community organizer abilities, could pose a problem for McElhaney.
Small businessowner Seneca Scott, Meron Semedar, Alexus Taylor, and Faye Taylor, a longshoreman, round out the field of candidates.
East Oakland residents will peruse a ballot on Nov. 3 that will not include Councilmember Reid’s name for the first time since 1992. The longest-serving member of the city council announced his retirement last year. But he hopes to keep the District 7 seat in the family.
His daughter, Treva Reid, is a frontrunner in the race that includes Bob Jackson of the Full Acts Gospel Church, and Marchon Tatmon, a mayoral candidate two years ago who made a positive impression on some Oakland politicos, despite his poor showing at the polls. Marcie Hodge, a former mayoral and council candidate, and Aaron Clay round out the five-person race.
For more than a decade, Kaplan has been busy running for public office, be it, re-election to the city council or runs for mayor. But Kaplan sat out the 2018 election and should be well-rested for what appears to be a strong bid from Johnson, the owner of Jack London Square’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. Johnson’s $116,000 in mid-year fundraising topped the incumbent Kaplan by a large margin.
In addition, Johnson received an endorsement from Sen. Kamala Harris the day before she was tabbed to be Joe Biden’s running mate. As endorsements go, Harris’ backing could be significant in a town where President Trump will be lucky to top five percent at the polls.
Perennial city council and mayor candidate Nancy Sidebotham is back this fall and is the third candidate in the at-large race.
North Oakland District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb is also facing a well-funded challenger in Steph Dominguez Walton in November. Walton reported $93,000 in cash reserves through the most recent June 30 campaign finance reporting period. Over the past six months, Walton raised $77,000, as opposed to Kalb’s $58,000. The third candidate in the race is electrical engineer Tri Ngo.
Councilmember Noel Gallo, the fourth incumbent councilmember on the ballot that was elected during the last major turnover of the council back in 2012, will face Richard S. Raya and Zoe Lopez-Meraz in the Fruitvalle-San Antonio District 5.
Meanwhile, there will be a healthy portion of palace intrigue in the city attorney’s race. Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker will seek her third full term in office (she was appointed in 2011 to replace outgoing city attorney John Russo). Parker’s lone opponent is someone she has likely seen in the lunch room, Deputy City Attorney Eli Ferran.
The Oakland Unified School District Board of Education has struggled mightily over the past decades to improve the city’s schools. This November provides yet another chance at renewal. Four of the seven seats on the board are guaranteed to be new members. Current Board Directors Jody London (District 1), Jumoke Hinton Hodge (District 3), Roseann Torres (District 5), and James Harris (District 7), will not return next year.
Here is the list of school board candidates this fall:
District 1: Austin Dannhaus, Sam Davis, and Stacy Thomas.
District 3: Maiya Edgerly, Cherrise Gash, Mark Hurty, Maximo Santana, and Van Cedric Williams.
District 5: Leroy Gaines, Michael Hutchinson, Sheila Pope-Lawrence, and Jorge Lerma.
District 7: Kristina Molina, Ben Tapscott, Bronche Taylor, Clifford Thompson, and Victor Valerio.