I’m running because the city council must do better. Frankly, for all its rhetoric about social and economic change, City Hall does a poor job of delivering the basic services that every Oakland resident has a right to expect, especially public safety. We have spent years listening to talk about community policing, beat-officer responsibility and policy changes, but the reality is that violent crime still defines Oakland.
I have been serving on the Oakland School Board for almost eight years – an era defined by innovation, problems and steady progress in student achievement. I led successful efforts to improve classroom reading and save art programs. I’ve wrestled with the problems that come with managing a local school system in state trusteeship. These experiences taught me about the power of an involved community to make progress under even the most difficult circumstances. I am ready to keep working hard for Oakland. But to make the changes we need, our whole community must stand together.
Other urban cities like New York, Newark and Los Angeles are cutting crime; yet our residents feel that they cannot rely on city hall. Even a 911 emergency call no longer guarantees a quick response. Every time the council places a tax on the ballot for more cops, better crime prevention or youth activities, we pass it. Oakland is the most generous city anywhere - yet the continued investment does not improve neighborhood safety.
There are so many more things that can be done – and we only have to look at our community to see them happening. Families, neighborhood watch leaders, and even local motorcycle clubs are bringing a new vitality to Oakland. I have formed coalitions to build new baseball fields; rehabilitate rundown properties. I have solicited professional musicians to teach East Oakland students and created an annual art festival to showcase young student talent.
Imagine what we will do when the City Council is a partner in all of this! Oakland is a city of diverse neighborhoods and lifestyles. This is our real identity.
My husband and I are raising our kids here. We’d like to see them raise our grandchildren here. Two terms on the school board have made me battle tested and unabashedly determined to make city hall perform. That’s why I’m running.
Kerry has served on the Oakland School Board since she was first elected in January, 2000. She is a founding member of the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood School Association and Board Member of the Oakland Parent Organizing Project (OP2).
Kerry formerly served as Chief of Staff and educational liaison for State Senator Don Perata, and worked as a policy advisor for Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris. She currently works as a manager at BART and lives with her Husband, two daughters, and two dogs in the Piedmont Avenue area of Oakland.