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How and why we made this guide

What this is:

This guide is an in-depth look at candidates running for office and measures on the Oakland ballot for the November 3, 2020 election. Our goal is to present as many facts as we can about the folks running and the policies they are trying to push so you can easily digest it, make your own choices, and vote. There are no fully comprehensive, accessible voting guides in Oakland, so we wanted to make one for you. Although we obviously have opinions, there are no endorsements on candidates because we don’t all agree on who would be best in every race.

What do we want:

While we don’t agree on everything, we do agree on three major principles:

  1. Black Lives Matter
  2. The City of Oakland should be transparent, honest, and accountable to the public
  3. The City should adopt a budget that prioritizes tenants rights, more affordable housing, public schools, defunding the police and moving toward transformative justice more generally

We used these principles to evaluate candidates and ballot measures. If you think we’ve missed something big or done something wrong, don’t hesitate to let us know. We are committed to being accountable too.

How we did it:

We made a deliberate decision not to reach out to candidates or ballot measure advocates for this guide because we know that what politicians will say when filling out a questionnaire in an election year is often very different from what they’ll do once elected. Instead, we read between the lines of official campaign websites and social media accounts. We listened in to as many hours of government meetings as we could to pick up patterns and personal tendencies. We read campaign finance documents, old news articles, and ancient tweets. Unlike many of Oakland’s local journalists, we don’t need to stay on these candidates’ good sides by repeating lies from “both sides,” and we’re able to give you our unvarnished opinion of how these candidates feel–their vibe–to us.

Why we did it:

Watching Oakland City Council meetings made us realize that what we were reading in the papers about Oakland politics was drastically different from what is actually happening. Understanding Oakland politics is a big task that’s impossible to do in the weeks between the day ballots drop and the polls close, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to hear what candidates and elected officials are really doing. Before voting, we committed to investigating for ourselves what each candidate stood for and how they were likely to vote on issues we all really care about, like policing, housing, and high-profile public land sales. We wanted to share our work with other Oakland voters because we think a better-informed democracy is a better democracy.

Who we are:

The #oakmtg (Appreciation) club is a group of friends and neighbors across Oakland who came together after the murder of George Floyd to try to make changes in policing at the city level, and we have been hooked on city politics since. Some of us have been involved in understanding Oakland’s political landscape for the better part of a decade; some of us are significantly newer to the area. We have our own favorites, and we don’t all agree on who will be best for Oakland.