2020 Election Results
The 2020 election results locally and beyond reflect the values, questions and concerns that voters have – as well as tell a story of how big money tried to buy influence and policies.
Some of our key take-aways from this election are:
We are so proud that Oakland has chosen to uplift the youth voice by passing Measure QQ and overwhelmingly support strengthening the police commission (81%) by passing Measure S1. Oakland also voted to pass Measure Y, which will bring $735 million in strengthening our school’s infrastructure. And, thanks to the Oakland Rising Action field program, Measure W passed by a very slim margin (approximately 1000 votes), to help the county address the homeless crisis while protecting our most vulnerable neighbors: seniors, veterans, families and people who can’t keep up with skyrocketing housing costs and are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.
On the state level, we saw the slim defeat of Prop 15, Schools & Communities First. Prop 15 was a symbol of transformational policy, turning the tide against an era of neoliberalism. So many of us grew up in a time when all “respectable” politicians have bought into the same consensus that starved budgets for public schools, afterschool programs, health clinics, housing, and transit barely scraping by were necessary sacrifices. Prop 15 would have taken the fight straight to the mega corporations reaping the real benefits of California’s broken tax system and racial caste system, reclaimed their billions in loopholes and restored the resources people need to learn and grow, to have shelter and home, and to heal and be cared for.
Prop 15 was also a symbol of a change in politics – led not by the usual power players in Sacramento, but by a grassroots coalition built over years, made up of community organizers, people of color rooted in neighborhoods no one thought had power. We were organizations used to working unnoticed on the margins of the big political plays made by influential people who spent their days in the halls of power. Our strategy was to build organized grassroots voter power to mobilize communities of color that the polls and political commentators never expected to turn out to vote. As California’s demographics changed with a rising electorate of young people of color, we knocked on doors to mobilize millions, transforming once-conservative strongholds into swing battlefields.
Ten years of building this strategy, and right as we geared up for the biggest election of our lives, a global pandemic hit, decimating our door-to-door field operation overnight. No door knocking machine to connect with voters in our communities and defeat the anticipated onslaught of corporate attack ads through face to face connection and trust. No campaign field offices up and down the state buzzing with the chatter of dozens of clipboard-wielding volunteers alive with energy and excitement. Just people sitting alone in their living rooms, plugged in to quietly ringing phones in a world where nobody answers their cell phones for strangers. Yet somehow still we came within just a few percentage points, counting votes for a week after the election. This was the margin of 3 or 4 percentage points that we knew our field campaign would have closed.
Prop 15 wasn’t the only disappointing loss in California’s propositions. In a year of corporate initiative spending unprecedented in American history, prop after prop in CA went for whichever side had more money. We need to fix this deeper issue of money’s influence in California politics. As the state’s economic inequality widens farther and farther, so will our political inequality, reinforcing each other through the corrupt interplay of corporate lobbying and campaign spending and laws that set the rules of the economy. This spiral will keep spiraling unless we say enough is enough and fight for real democracy.
With the election season over, we will now turn our focus to solidifying our relationships with the newly electeds and bringing forth policy priorities that will drive bold, progressive change to weather this ongoing pandemic crisis and emerge as a city that champions our shared values of racial, economic, and environmental justice. We will continue on this arc of justice and fight for an Oakland for All.
Descriptions of Local Measures & Statewide Propositions
City of Oakland Measures
California State Propositions
Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to Vote for School Board
Allows Persons Aged 16 and 17, who would otherwise be Eligible to Vote under State Law, to Vote for School Board.
Our young people are the most effected by the decisions of the school board, and they should have a role in who represents them.
Remove $1000 Limit on Fines for Code Violations
Eliminates a 1000 limit on the fines administered for violations of ordinances or the municipal code.
To fight illegal dumping, the city can currently only levy a $1,000 dollar fine–an amount put in place in 1968. This measure would allow the city council to raise fine limits for specific violations, like dumping, to over $1,000, and put more tools in the toolbox to stop dumping in our neighborhoods. The Council would have to set a new cap after a public hearing. Any ordinances that have specific fine limits would still be in force. For example, if a law says that the first violation is $250 and subsequent violations are no more than $500, that would still be the limit regardless of what the overall cap is in the law.
The purpose of RR is to give the city an effective tool to enforce our code–especially against egregious offenders. For example, repeat illegal dumpers or businesses who repeatedly ignore the municipal code requirements could be subject to larger fines, which we hope will deter the problematic behavior. Currently, businesses often just pay the fines as the cost of doing business because the fines are so modest.
Strengthen Police Commission
Create Office of Inspector General to Review OPD Practices and Allow Police Commission to Hire Attorneys
As the task force that the community won forms to cut the Oakland Police Budget by 50% next year, this measure would move accountability measures like the office of inspector general outside of the police department. They’ve proven that they can’t hold themselves accountable- voting yes will give us a better chance.
County of Alameda Measures
Continue Pitching In on Utilities In Unincorporated Areas
Extends an existing tax on utility users in unincorporated areas for 13 years
Power companies should be paying these taxes, but continuing this tax is an important revenue source for the county.
Fund Mental Health, Housing, & Job Training
Establishes a half cent sales tax to raise $150 mil/year for 10 years for general public services
The measure will address Alameda County’s homeless crisis, protecting our most vulnerable neighbors: seniors, veterans, families and people who can’t keep up with skyrocketing housing costs and are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.
Very low-income individuals and families already at risk of becoming homeless are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure will help keep people who are risk of homelessness in their homes and shelter people who are experiencing homelessness.
Housing prices are out of control. Seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and others living on a fixed income can’t afford rents.
82% of those who are currently experiencing homelessness in Alameda County lived here before losing their home. This measure will help prevent local residents from becoming homeless in the first place.
Borrow Funds to Fund County Fire Department
$90 million bond for Fire Department
In the midst of increased climate fires and reduced budgets, adding resources for the fire department is a good idea.
Borrow Funds to Repair & Upgrade School Buildings
Yes, our schools need the funds but we need systemic change to our tax system that addresses these needs instead of continually adding bond measures to cover.
California State Propositions
Increase Bond Funding for Stem Cell Research
Borrows an additional $5.5 billion in government bonds for stem cell research.
Proposition 14 is a bond; money that would come from the state’s general fund. This funding would allow the continuation of stem cell research for treatments of a wide variety of conditions. Funding from the 2004 Proposition 71 brought many world class scientists to California to research treatments and cures for conditions including cancer, infectious diseases, and Alzheimer’s. This proposition also includes a Treatment and Cures Accessibility and Affordability Working Group, which creates policies to address affordability concerns of cures found through this research.
Put Schools & Communities First
Commercial property would be taxed based on the current market value, rather than the purchase value, for people with more than $3 million in commercial property holdings.
A 1978 Tax Limitation Initiative, also known as Proposition 13, limited property taxation to no more than 1% of purchase value. This has created a corporate property tax loophole that allows large corporations to pay property taxes at much lower rates than those of other large cities. This proposition is estimated to increase funding for local governments and school districts by $6.5 to $11.5 billion across the state.
End the Ban on Affirmative Action
Prop 16 would allow for the consideration of race, ethnicity, and gender in hiring and admissions processes. This would reverse Proposition 209, which banned the use of affirmative action among state institutions.
Proposition 209, which was passed in 1996, prohibited the considerations of race and sex in hiring and admissions processes. Proposition 16 would reverse this restriction. Affirmative action accounts for systemic and systematic barriers for entry into workplaces and schools. Race, ethnicity, and gender consciousness in admissions and hiring processes promotes equality and diverse learning and work spaces.
Free the Vote for People on Parole
Would allow those who are currently on parole to vote. Currently, one must complete their parole sentence before they are eligible to vote.
Bay Rising firmly supports the right to vote, and this proposition would restore the right to vote to Californians who are currently on parole. Currently, there are about 50,000 people on parole in California who would regain the right to vote with this proposition.
Allow 17-year-olds to Vote in Primary Elections
Allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will have turned 18 by the general election.
This would allow 17-year-olds to participate in the primary prior to that specific general election if they are to turn 18 in between the two dates. Prop 18 also allows for 17-year-olds to vote in special elections should they turn 18 by the next general election.
Prevent Deeper Housing Inequality
Allows veterans, people who are disabled, and people over the age of 55 to keep their low property tax rate when moving.
For veterans, people with disabilities, and people over the age of 55, this proposition would allow them to keep their current property tax rate if they move to a new property of equal or lesser value. The current rate of taxation is no more than 1% of the assed value of the property as of 1976, up until there is a change of ownership, upon which the taxation rate rises to up to 2% inflation adjusted. This also limits tax breaks for those inheriting property, with excess tax money from this increased tax revenue being allocated to wildfire response.
Protect Progress We’ve Made to Undo Mass Incarceration
Reclassifies repeated theft as a felony, enables tougher penalties for those violating parole multiple times, and limits early parole.
Allows some types of theft and fraud to be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies rather than just as misdemeanors. Currently, the parole review board allows nonviolent offenders to be eligible for early release after serving a length of time equal to their longest sentence. This proposition would require other factors to be considered before the potential to be released on parole. Additionally, with 51 crimes being reclassified as violent, people serving sentences for those crimes would no longer be eligible for parole review.
Allow Local Communities to Expand Rent Control
Allows cities to impose and expand rent controls on properties that are older than 15 years old.
This proposition is set to replace the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, thus allowing local governments to institute rent control on properties older than 15 years old.
Protect Gig Workers & Make Sure Drivers Get A Fair Share
Reclassifies gig workers for companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Instacart as independent contractors rather than employees.
This proposition would distinguish app-based gig employers from other California employers. Although an hourly minimum wage and other benefits would be instituted, it would create an exemption from standard work and wage restrictions for these companies. With this proposition, gig workers would lose state-mandated benefits for employees, such as “minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.”
Regulate Kidney Dialysis Clinics for Safety
Dialysis clinics would be required to report infection data to the state and have at least one physician on site at all times.
Reduces access to dialysis treatment for low-income patients.
Protect Your Data from Tech Corporations
Reduces privacy restrictions that have been put into place and allows tech companies to gather more data.
Consumer groups have found many problems in the fine print of this measure such as allowing tech companies to ignore a universal “do not sell my information” electronic signal and making consumers notify every vendor individually.
Switch Cash Bail with System Based On “Public Safety Risk”
Approves a state law that bans cash bail; a “yes” vote signifies ending cash bail while a “no” vote opts to keep it.
Cash bail, a horrific system that keeps people in jail only because they are poor and keeps many Black and brown people locked up, needs to end. However, this initiative puts forward a solution that would replace the cash bail system with one that applies a “risk assessment,” an algorithm that attempts to forecast whether someone is likely to end up back in jail and which is likely to reinforce the racial disparities in our jails. The “risk assessment” also puts more power in judges’ hands to keep people locked up away from their families while awaiting trial. Oakland Rising has allies and partners on both sides of this issue: those who think that ending cash bail is the highest priority, and those who think the new system will have damaging consequences that will be harder to undo.
Oakland, CA 94612
Oakland Rising and our collaborative partners are united in our vision for a city that embodies health, happiness, safety, and equal opportunities for all. Our goal is to create a model of progress and sustainability that showcases the possibilities for American cities in the 21st century. We are committed to dismantling the barriers of racial, economic, political, environmental, and educational inequities that have divided us, and instead, embracing the collective strength found in our city’s diversity. We firmly believe that Oakland can achieve its full potential when every resident, student, and bus rider has the ability to shape our city’s future. This vision is attainable and we are determined to realize it through our collective actions, whether it’s through voting, meetings, or call to actions.
Every year, we release a Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform (VIPP) which outlines the annual policies that we and our eight partner organizations prioritize in order to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice in the Town. Our collaborative’s agenda encompasses a range of critical initiatives, from expanding affordable housing to creating a more equitable democracy through campaign finance reforms. These priorities are designed to provide vital protections and innovative solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community. As we continue our efforts to promote these policies, we hold conversations with thousands of voters, lead and co-host impactful town hall meetings, educate and mobilize residents and voters, and undertake various other initiatives.
To gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to resist, protect, and advance in this political moment, we invite you to explore our 2023 Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and just Oakland, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of change, one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.
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Oakland Rising is a project from our hearts for the people of Oakland. Thank you for your contribution!