"As a 30-year Oakland resident, I have dedicated my life to making government work for its residents -- linking people to resources, empowering residents to make changes in their neighborhoods, and creating policy and institutions that help our youth, seniors and families thrive."
Oakland is my home. My family has been part of this city for over a century, since my great-grandfather, grandfather and his two brothers took the ferry to Oakland after the 1906 earthquake to become a part of the new Chinatown.
Jean As a Student Organizer
My husband, Floyd, and I met as student activists at UC Berkeley in the middle of the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, and we helped found Asian American Studies and initiate programs like OASES and Asian Health Services that continue to serve Oakland communities today. I also worked in West Oakland setting up tutorial programs for students and classes for parents who needed help to pass the test to get jobs at the Main Post Office.
My children, William and Lailan, were raised here, attended Oakland’s public schools, graduated from Joaquin Miller, Montera and Skyline High School, and continued on to college at Princeton and Columbia before coming back to the Bay Area to serve as a doctor at SF General and youth organizer working with students to transform the Oakland public school system.
Jean's Family at Oakland Peace March 2007
I jumped into Oakland politics as a parent activist to save our music and arts programs in 1989, and ever since then I’ve been working together with other concerned residents to make our public institutions work for us. I served on the School Board for three terms, working on the ground with principals, parents, teachers and students to energize and improve our schools. I also led state and national organizations advocating for urban and immigrant students.
After seeing the disconnection between City Hall and what was happening in the neighborhoods and schools, I ran for City Council to bring this grassroots approach to organize Oakland’s resources to improve quality of life for all residents, in the flats and the hills.
Having served two terms on the Council, I know that we can take this community-based politics to the whole city, and this is why I’m running for Mayor. I truly care about what happens in Oakland and proudly stand on a solid record of fighting for our schools, our libraries, our youth and our neighborhoods. Oakland needs and deserves visible, hands-on leadership, and I have the on-the-ground knowledge, the leadership experience, and just as important, the passion the job of Mayor demands.
On the Record: A Commitment to Community-Building
Over my two terms on the City Council, I have built strategic coalitions and led major initiatives to save libraries from closure, give the City new powers to focus on problem properties, bring police staffing to the highest levels in City history, expand programs for youth and partnerships with schools, protect our homes from firestorms and earthquakes, and support our cultural and arts institutions.
Rally to Save Libraries & Pass School Bonds
As chair of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee for the past three years, I have led the process to balance one of the toughest budgets in decades. I rejected following the state’s lead of going into debt, and unified employees and citizens around tough but fair cuts that saved police positions and critical services for our most vulnerable residents.
Without a strong sense of community, neighborhoods deteriorate and ultimately fail. To help create bonds so essential to community well-being, I’ve worked to:
- Close down crime magnets like the Hillcrest Motel and the M &W Liquor Store at Fairfax & High
- Organize merchants to form local Business Improvement Districts, bringing in Farmer Joe’s and other new businesses to the Dimond and Laurel
- Preserve open space like Butters and Castle Canyons in the Oakland Hills for all residents and future generations to enjoy
- Pass Measure Y to ensure that beat cops get to know our communities and to bring youth workers and violence prevention programs to our neighborhoods
- Organize hundreds of Earth Day projects, National Night Out parties, and neighborhood beautification and improvement projects
- Nurture many new CORE (Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies) groups and trainings for residents
- Strengthen neighborhood councils, watches and groups
- Expand the arts by supporting neighborhood festivals, school programs, public arts projects, sponsoring the Sunday's in the Redwoods Concerts, and authoring Hotel Tax to support the Zoo, Museum, Chabot Science Center and artist programs.
National Night Out 2009 on Culver Street
As a result of these efforts, our neighborhoods are stronger and safer than they have been in decades. I believe that every block in Oakland should be organized in this way, and that it should be the Mayor’s highest priority to galvanize community action.
A Real Chance for Real Change in Oakland
I have met with more than a thousand Oakland residents at small house parties all over the city over the past year, and what I’ve learned is that Oaklanders believe that a long due citywide revitalization is finally within reach. I share this belief. With the mayoral election on November 2, 2010, we have a historic opportunity to realize the vast potential tucked away in so many pockets of our city.
I am asking for your support today to keep Oakland moving forward.
You can download Jean's Accomplishments on the City Council here:
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