Because You Have No Good Options
We're teetering on the edge of an abyss. The planet’s climate is shifting from livable to uninhabitable under our feet, global authoritarianism is ascendant, the U.S. government is headed by a cabal of criminals who have taken over one of our two parties, and the de facto opposition party’s response so far has been … inadequate. Here in Assembly District 15, the best we've mustered for representation is Buffy Wicks, a Democratic Party operative whose campaign was primarily funded by wealthy out-of-district donors.
California is a one-party state that has a GDP higher than most countries in the world, and the level of crushing inequality in our community and neighborhoods has been condemned by the United Nations. The only thing that can stand up to, absorb, and hopefully mitigate the rapidly-escalating crises we face is resilience and strong ties in our community. That is not how the 2018 Assembly District 15 race shook out, and we are weaker for it.
The mechanisms of democratic representation available to us in AD-15, California, and the United States are only truly accessible to those who already have the most resources. Trust me, I know, I’m running a campaign! This is a fucking ridiculous process for any one person to attempt, even though all I really want is to have some direct input on the decisions that affect my community.
So instead we will have to hold each other up. We must strengthen and deepen our commitment to democracy by creating processes of representation where the people don’t have just a voice in government, but a hand in it. Every marginalized community that has a stake in an issue that the state wants to solve should meaningfully participate in the solution.
That can’t happen through electoral politics as they currently stand. That only happens through peacemaking and public participation.
So don’t vote for me to represent you in the halls of power. Vote for me because we’re neighbors, because I got your back and you’ve got mine, because we’re going to figure out how to survive and thrive together.
Why I'm Running
I'm a 34 year-old white lady gentrifier from a suburb of Chicago that's so quintessentially white liberal, someone made a docuseries about how nice-racist my high school is. I moved to Oakland six years ago to pursue a career in filmmaking, rather than continuing to work in retail sales, and all of my privileges cushioned my landing here.
To be clear: The only reason I'm well-resourced enough to run for office in one of the most expensive cities in the world is because of all of the benefits I derive from my identities.
I've spent my time here developing my activism and organizing alongside my film career. I learned to edit video by cutting down a livestream of the Ferguson protests for media distribution. In 2015 I co-organized Bay Area for Bernie, a grassroots volunteer network that took me from Santa Rosa to Sacramento to Santa Cruz to organize Sanders' supporters before the campaign arrived in California.
My experiences have shown me that our systems are built to shut out ordinary people from participation in self-governance. So for this campaign, I'm working with colleagues from the film industry to document it.
I've Got Your Back
I love Oakland. I love that I leave for work with the lingering smell of ocean in the air, and that I have “our beach” where my husband and I walk the dog and watch the changing of the tides and the seasons. Looking up at the redwoods feels like being home in a way that looking up at skyscrapers never did. And the devastation of the fires has sharpened and clarified my intentions, imbued them with urgency, and pushed me into action. I am so grateful that I’ve been able to put down roots here.
Honoring that opportunity requires me to acknowledge who my presence here displaces, and to repair the damage that causes. My presence on this continent, let alone in this district, is a result of colonization, which means that the Ohlone people come first in local politics. I arrived at the beginning of a wave of gentrification in my neighborhood, which means that in policy, unhoused and housing-insecure people’s safety and security are the priority over my own. And I came to this place because of its history of Black, Chicano/a, and Indigenous resistance, while what safety nets support those communities are systematically unraveled by the wealthiest people in human history. Which means eat the rich, seize their assets, and give them back to the people.
My campaign platform is to use my campaign as a platform. In crises, the most important thing any of us can do with the power that we are afforded is to circle the wagons and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. I'll use the brief moment that I have a podium to point you to people doing the most important work in our district.
The Sogorea Te' Land Trust is an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands to Indigenous stewardship.
MOMS 4 HOUSING
Moms 4 Housing is a collective of unhoused and marginally housed mothers whose ultimate goal is to reclaim unused and empty housing units from speculators and developers.
COMMUNITY DEMOCRACY PROJECT
The Community Democracy Project has gathered signatures to put a People's Budget initiative on the ballot in Oakland. It would amend the city charter to allow the people of Oakland to determine each budgetary cycle how much money goes to city departments.
OAKLAND COMMUNITY LAND TRUST
The Oakland Community Land Trust is a non-profit organization that acquires and stewards land in trust for the permanent benefit of low-income communities. The land acquired by the trust can be put to a variety of uses including housing and food production.
PUBLIC BANK EAST BAY
Public Bank East Bay is a bank owned and controlled by the people of the East Bay. The mandate of public banking is that it operates in the public's interest, which lowers taxes by returning money to the general fund and lowers the cost of government projects.
EAST BAY PERMANENT REAL ESTATE COOPERATIVE
EB PREC is a democratic people-of-color led cooperative that takes land and housing off the market to create permanently affordable, community controlled land and housing.