Speaking Out...

Elections Matter: Loud Is Not Better

If you've ever wondered about your vote, the misadventures of the past eight months or so, should underscore the importance of the electoral process and why it's so important to know your candidates do you can make informed decisions. Elections have consequences, elections have residual effects. Elections Matter. 
Next spring (Jun18), there is a big election looming in  California Assembly District 15 for a seat being vacated by incumbent Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond). It's going to be a crowded field because open seats n safe districts don't come up very often. Thurmond is vacating his 'safe' seat to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction - a 'gutsy' move for sure. Besides me, there are several local council members, municipal organization board members + several local people (and a few 'outsiders') entering the race to represent this vibrant district. 
One of the candidates that's causing a great deal of controversy is a political consultant (i.e. DNC fundraiser) who moved to the area about a  year ago yet spent most of the time raising $$$ for HRC and is now expected to spend massive amounts of campaign money on this campaign when she's not been engaged in the area at all. Raising money for politicians doesn't count as engaged. That money isn't coming to the community; it's going to candidates and other consultants and her bank. No thanks.
Then there's the others: the council members and municipal officials who are so ingrained in their own corners of the district they made decisions (conscious or otherwise) not to be bothered with other parts of the community - even if it is a few feet away, across a city or county line, outside their chosen area of 'comfort'. Those few ran yet who didn't win a previous election in this area yet, instead of increasing their efforts in the community and showing commitment to the people despite ballot results, they sulked back to their corners of their counties until next election season (now). Those who are just entering advocacy, community work, public service and/or elected office and are still learning the nuances and though unafraid to try, whose wings are still developing. Those elected to office and gained oversized egos along the way, forgetting that public office positions are 'service' positions whereby they should be always thinking 'how can I be of service to the people' rather than exalting themselves above the people or treating these positions as a career substitute to sustain/supplement a lifestyle one could not/cannot manage without the consistent help of taxpayers...
There are already a wealth of strong community activists who do live in the area, been engaged in the area, stay involved in the area - who would make great elected officials - at all levels. All they need is to be asked and supported. 
So, after looking over the cast of declared candidates and not seeing anyone who satisfied me as a concerned district parent-activist-voter-volunteer-mentor, that any would be a strong, unwavering fighter for socio-
economic causes, civil rights, the environment and equality. I made my decision to run.
I have spent 25y working, volunteering, mentoring y engaged in every community in this district. I'm not willing to let just anyone come in and buy/take a seat who hasn't been equally about the people as I have these last few decades. Period. So get your gloves ready; I'll fight to the end.
Then there are those who seem to have made 'politicking' their life's work. Politicking is not the same as 'working' so don't confuse the two. You see, politicking is what people do when they spend more time making their 'rounds' to the perceived 'big' meetings with the 'perceived' 'bigwigs'. That's what these 'newcomers' are doing. The people who think that "if I spend a lot, if continually talk louder or be louder than the next person, if I jump on the mic at the city council meetings - regardless whether my words are meaningless, or if I sit on a city council or a board and 'Charlie Brown' my way through (never making tough decisions or standing out from the pack yet doing the expected b/c a 'group' tells you despite what the community needs/calls for) ..."
I purposely waited to see who the candidates would be to see if there were any qualified persons (from my deeming) worthy of holding this seat...after deciding in the negative, I made my decision. 
See, I'm not a fraud or perpetrator or phony. I don't have time for every meeting. There's only so many hours in a day and as a working woman/mother/wife/advocate, I have to make choices, so I choose where I'm likely to be most needed and most effective at the moment - not where I think some so-called 'big name/bigwig' is going to be or for purposes of political schmoozing. My time is too valuable for putting on a show. 
I'd much rather spend my time in the community, as I've always done. So I choose instead to attend the 'real' mtgs - the school boards, city councils, youth sports, parents clubs/boards, board of supervisors, boys & girls club, Girls Scouts, chamber, NAACP, women's clubs, interfaith councils, etc. 
THAT'S been my focus for nearly 25y since moving to this area in 1992 (El Cerrito then El Sobrante & Albany). I've worked, volunteered, mentored, advocated y toiled for social y economic justice in every city in this district during that time: Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo (Tara Hills), El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules. 
This was my primary concern when watching the parade of individuals announcing their candidacy these last months and a degree of my prime motivation when realizing not a one of these individuals have been engaged or vested in this community for the long haul (save their own corners/bubbles/niches). We are already coming off a rep having used the position as a stepping stone and seemingly not vested enough in the community at large for the long term... this is not a social experiment; we deserve better. 
Much better. This diverse community which runs from Oakland to Hercules boasts the eleven cities with a variety of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious sectors, all co-existing in one of the country's most scenically aesthetic  areas. So, it stands to reason such a diverse community deserves representation by someone that reflects the very nature of that diversity - not just the look, the thought, the approach, the innovation, the culture.  I happen to be the very reflection of this district's beauty in my multiculturalism, multi-ethnicity, multilingualism, creativity, and engagement in interfaith activities across the entire district community. 
Because this community, this district, is bigger than one city or area, more important than one demographic or niche splinter group. This district and the individual hired to represent the people of the district should be involved and engaged across the entire spectrum of the district rather than presuming each city, each area is the same. 
One cannot be mole-holed in their own bubble and then expecting everyone to just blindly trust that they will do 'something somehow' or should let their past actions in one area of the community translate to the entire district or buy in to flawed presumptions that 'I'm good for you; believe me' without the individual having been actively engaged over the entirety of the district for extended periods of time. We've heard those (false) promises and election  pamphlet rhetoric too often before. 
Case in point: Of the many community, advisory, school board, council, municipal, county meetings I've frequented and actively participated in over the past years, I have rarely encountered many, if any, of these elected officials or wannabes. Now, let there be a camera or reporter? They would clamor for attention and recognition. Attending and participating for the sheer meaning of 'putting in the work' or staying involved/engaged? That didn't/doesn't seem to equate...
For instance, none have been around through the mess at Richmond housing when the residents were living in squalor (they called a small group of us because they knew we would show up without the selfish fanfare; and we did show up, I showed up with a couple of my fellow NAACP Board members and concerned cItizens, alerting our media contacts to draw attention to the situation and challenging the city council to be accountable for this human rights catastrophe. I showed up and continued to show up to help residents decipher legal contracts y relocation processes until we were all satisfied the situation was properly controlled). 
I was there when Portola MS students had race y sexism y harassment issues years ago - where were they? Not present. 
How about the Oscar Grant issue at BART and the aftermath including ongoing solution-building? Not there.
WCCUSD racism, sexism, discrimination in education, abuse of power, misappropriation of district funds, school closure debates? I was there sitting on the advisory council & bond oversight committees, speaking out demanding accountability &!action  - where were they?! Not present. 
Even more recently, during the highly-
publicized racist, sexist, xenophobic y homophobic issues at Albany High (then Piedmont High)? That was just this past spring semester through the end of the school year when several of these candidates had already declared and/or knew of their intention to declare. Where were they?! Again, not present; I was there. I'm still there. I was there at the board meetings with the administration & staff, there helping the students try and make sense of what was happening and get through it, there at the committee and subcommittee meetings, all while others were elsewhere - more recently at an event 'schmoozing'... 
So, if you want to know the difference, if you want to figure out who will actually 'talk' and who will actually 'DO'; who will feed you the party line and who will be 'actively listen' to you & be honest with you in all dealings; 
who is here to simply try & buy their way and who is truly vested & engaged in the community  and committed to serving for the long haul; who is puppeting recycled party rhetoric and  who will actually listen & work right alongside the community to get things done? THIS is the diff... 
Some of us actually get in the trenches, fight and scrap and DO the work that others talk about or allude to...I'm that fighter, that scrapper, that doer...
I know what this is about. I know what's at stake. AND I know it takes ALL of us to make it happen. 
Join me let's make it work ToGETHer elected! 
Paz, CS



When you keep electing/permit election of the same profile of people then wonder why you keep getting the same results, you must wonder whose crazier: them or you?! Why are we so complacent?! They've had their turn, failed miserably and keep returning for more.

It's time for true revolutionary change by those of us whose lives and whose children's lives are directly effected. It's our generation's turn AND responsibility to do the right thing NOW. Pathetic slogans & partisan politics doesn't work. None of us care about that anymore.

So, pull up your pants, & get ready to put up or go away. If you are not ready, either step aside or be supplanted and be ready to deal with the after math and the crumbs. No excuses or complaints accepted. Who is ready to step up? 🙋🏼 Ma Salaama.