Happy Mother’s Day to all those who mother, whether birth mother, adopted mother or caregiver to a child you hold dear. As I step up to take on more leadership in our beloved city, I’ve reflected on how motherhood has prepared me to serve Oakland.
We mothers are creative; we find solutions when the well-being of our child is at stake. When my daughter was born 14 years ago, I struggled with childcare options when I had to return to work and she was just a few months old. It was hard to imagine leaving my first child in someone else’s care. Wasn’t there a way to band together with other moms to create our own childcare? I figured out how to form a childcare collective with four other families and dear friends. I learned how to become an employer so we could hire a caregiver together and follow the rules so that she received the benefits she deserved. Our kids were born in the Year of the Monkey so we called ourselves the Laughing Monkey Collective. We rotated responsibilities so that each day a different parent cared for our kids together with our caregiver.
We mothers nurture our kids and share our values. When my daughter was in elementary school, we formed our own Girls Scouts Troop. Of course we wanted them to have fun, and we also wanted to create a supportive environment for them to develop relationships and learn about the world around them. I took them to the African American Museum and Library to learn about Oakland’s history, and one of the girls got to show us photos of her great-great-grandfather, Oakland's first Black firefighter, and her great-great-uncle Lionel Wilson, Oakland's former mayor. I led a hike in Joaquin Miller Park to appreciate nature and introduce the concept of stewardship of our land and resources. I brought them to City Slicker Farms in West Oakland to learn about community gardening and the importance of access to healthy food. Another mom organized donations to a homeless shelter and volunteer work at the animal shelter. The girls had fun, built friendships, learned about their community, and also began to share their moms’ values: to care for our neighbors and environment.
We mothers want the best possible world for our kids. We don’t settle for anything less than the best. Would you trust a doctor or a teacher that is just okay? No, we want exceptional people to care for and teach our kids. In that spirit, I want the best for my town, all of our people and seven generations more. I love our community and it breaks my heart to witness family after family losing their home, even on my own block. I want to collaborate with you, my neighbors, to find creative solutions to the crises of housing and homelessness in our city, and lead us forward, fighting like a mother for her child - because real lives are at stake.
I’ve waged a fight like this for good jobs in Oakland. While heading the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), I led my team to ensure that our old Army Base would be developed into a project that would benefit the surrounding community, alleviating high unemployment. We built a coalition of community organizations, youth groups, faith leaders and unions to call on the city and developers to sign a contract with the community to create good jobs for Oaklanders. I remember the day we launched the campaign with 100 people at City Hall. It was eight years ago and my daughter had just finished kindergarten. I asked the crowd what future she and her classmates would have when they graduate in 2022. I still worry about their future - what jobs will be available, will they afford to live here? I’m proud that my coalition efforts led to a precedent-setting agreement that is putting Oaklanders to work to build and operate the warehouse complex that will serve the Port of Oakland. We won policies for local hiring and living wages, and innovated new policies to provide a fair chance to formerly incarcerated people, create a job resource center and ensure community oversight. Today’s task is continuing to make sure more Oaklanders have access to family-sustaining jobs, that small business can thrive, and that housing is affordable and available to all our residents.
As a mother, trust is important to me. I expect integrity and independence from my elected representatives. As I campaign to be your next City Councilmember, I will not take contributions from corporate donors. I vow to be an independent voice that will listen to and represent all of my constituents; I will make decisions rooted in my values of integrity, equity, accountability and most of all, love
Here’s to celebrating the mothers in our lives!
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