By Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont

Executive Director, Oakland Rising

The beautiful possibility of Oakland is that there is real opportunity for everyone, not just people from some neighborhoods. Working together to build a 21st century Oakland we can be proud to call home means that we won’t leave anybody behind.

But the reality is that too many families in the flatlands are living on the edge of their dreams. Most are without good jobs, education and or opportunity for healthy livelihoods.

History shows we make great progress when we invest in a real partnership between our government and our people. As one of the most diverse cities in the nation, Oakland’s government has to work hand in hand with all communities to address all our people’s needs.

Oakland needs an authentic local democracy to tell elected officials what we want, and hold them accountable for making it happen. We should have votes that reflect our diversity and policies that make it easy for all of us to help make important decisions.

As the city moves to make its’ budgeting process more transparent and accountable, we can’t forget a critical priority for 2013 – redistricting.

Drawing new council and school board district lines after the Federal Census of 2010 is Oakland’s chance to protect neighborhoods and communities of interest while lifting up “one person, one vote” that ensures equal protection and representation.

Since our founding in 2009, Oakland Rising has fought to increase civic participation among low-income, immigrant and voters of color living in the flatlands of East and West Oakland. We have talked to over 50,000 residents and informed them about budget choices that create real public safety, security and opportunity.

Oakland is changing and I am deeply concerned about what I see. Poor, working class and people of color are fighting foreclosure, eviction, gentrification and displacement citywide (especially in West Oakland, Fruitvale, San Antonio and Deep East Oakland).

Flatland voters in these communities deserve better services and respect from city government. But that won’t happen if the city fails to involve residents in redistricting.

Redistricting should be about adjusting district lines in a way that reflect changes in population while keeping communities of interest together.

Building a brighter future in Oakland means nurturing places where we can live, work, play, learn, love, chill, jam, grow and hope together. It means honoring the history of our city, and cultivating trusting relationships between Oaklanders – old and new.

City government should prioritize responsible development that boosts beautiful neighborhoods, strong families, safe parks, excellent after-school programs, local arts, culture, and Oakland pride (without pushing people out). Anything less is not enough for this beautiful town!

That’s why Oakland Rising is partnering with Urban Strategies Council, ACCE, League of Women Voters and concerned residents to engage Oaklanders in learning more about Voting Rights, redistricting, and one person, one vote. Our coalition is honored to have received funding from the James Irvine Foundation to support this work.

You can learn more at or by following #OaklandVotes on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.

2 Responses

  1. Terrence May

    Rising and dreaming together, our voices must be heart in Oakland’s redistricting.

    This interactive street-level City of Oakland map shows the boundaries of the seven Council (also used by the School Board) Districts as approved by the City Council in 2003 using 2000 census population figures. It may look very different when the 2013 redistricting process is completed.

    The 2010 Census total population for the City of Oakland is 390,724. In order to balance the population among the 7 Council Districts, the target population we are aiming for is 58,311 people per Council District.

    The 2010 census has revealed significant disparities between the populations of the districts. These range from District 2 (East Lake/Chinatown/San Antonio) at 7.4% (4,151 persons) under, to District 3 (West Oakland/Downtown) at 12% (6,692 over, the target population. Population will need to be shifted from Consequently, it is necessary to adjust existing Council District boundaries to redistribute population evenly.

    It is essential to have broad-based community participation, clear communication, and transparency throughout this critically important process, which happens every 10 years.

    By participating in this process, you will ensure your voice and the voice of your community are heard.


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