District 7 councilmember-elect Treva Reid Credit: courtesy Treva Reid

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Treva Reid will be one of two new members on Oakland’s City Council when she’s sworn in next January to represent District 7, which encompasses the deep East Oakland flatlands and hills. Her father, outgoing councilmember Larry Reid, held the same seat for 24 years. But during her campaign, Treva Reid told The Oaklandside that she’s different from her father and will bring new approaches to solving long-standing problems in the district such as lack of affordable housing, business development, and crime. Now that enough ballots have been counted to deem her the winner, we decided to follow up with Reid to learn more about her plans for Oakland’s easternmost district.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

All of the votes have been counted and it looks like you’ll soon be confirmed as the new D7 councilmember. How are you feeling?

I am overwhelmed, grateful, and in awe. Honestly, I’m just truly humbled by this moment. It is an exciting time for us nationally, and to be a part of this time locally—with women leading and Black women leading—I’m grateful to be a part of this time in our history.

Back in August, you told us about some of your plans if elected. You mentioned housing, policing, the crime rate, and land development as big issues. Which of these will you tackle first, and how?

I think when I look at the overarching challenges, all of those are critical issues. Certainly we need housing, now, for people. In the midst of a heartbreaking increase in gun violence and violent crime, that needs to be addressed as well. We need to have sufficient funding revenue and strategies in order to execute plans that have already been laid out prior to me coming into office. We’ve had plans that we’ve not fully funded for housing and for public safety.

According to the 2020 Housing Element Annual Progress Report (for the year 2019), the city of Oakland has only built 14% of our affordable housing needs. Our affordable housing goals cannot be met with the current funding sources and we must rethink our strategy to address our housing crisis. The 2019 Semi-Annual Staffing Report from the Housing and Community Development Department saw 19 full-time employee vacancies. That is unacceptable for the department helping us with our housing goals.

Regarding public safety, violence interrupters and life coaches are significant credible messengers to mentor our youth and young adults. We realize it’s more challenging for them to show up and engage with the community during COVID, however we must maintain creative approaches with our violence prevention and intervention strategy.

We also need to ensure that we’ve got the revenue to fund those needed programs and to maintain wages for our workforce. We need to ensure that we’ve got economic and racial equity addressed and are looking through the lens of how we create opportunities in those areas that have been barriers for people of color, especially, as the data shows, for Black people. We need to make sure that the magnitude of unemployment due to COVID-19, business loss, and lack of housing are addressed.

So, it’s going to be me coming to the table with the new and current leaders, and strategizing to make sure that I champion programs and funding to benefit East Oaklanders.

You’re taking over the council seat your father occupied for over two decades. In what ways will you follow in his footsteps, and what will you do differently?

While we both have a core heart of serving from that place of fighting and advocating for our community, it will show up differently based on my life and professional experiences. Generationally, the lens that I lead out from is different from the lens that he leads out from. I believe that my perspective as a woman leading will also be very different from his perspective and his lens as a male leader.

I mean, I don’t know too many people who say they do things exactly like their parents. There’s wisdom that I’ve gleaned from my father and that wisdom that I’ve gleaned is helpful for where we are right now. I have a whole other group of wise counsel and mentors and leaders that I’ve always been connected with outside of my parents.

Even though I am coming into his seat, we differ now, in how he leads. We differ now, in his perspective as a council member. But you may not have heard that because I also have sought to honor my father, and honor the fact that he is his own leader.

How do you view the gun violence problem that’s disproportionately harming East Oakland residents?

It’s alarming, it’s disheartening, and it grieves me to see the magnitude of violence and the loss of life. We lost my daughter’s oldest brother Brandon, who I loved as my son, to gun violence. So my perspective on loss of life, it comes from that place of that trauma, the deep trauma that we continue to heal from. Following Brandon’s murder, I volunteered and supported a program at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center mentoring and helping to positively impact and influence the lives of young men. I certainly prayed, ‘God, what is the strategy?’

Seeing the violence that is before us as a public health crisis, one of the things we haven’t done enough of is invest equitably into East Oakland to show our youth and our young adults how much we really care for them. I believe that we need to show up in this community with our youth and young adults, not attacking them and talking about where they may or may not be in their mindset. I think it’s our responsibility to show up strong in this community with a strategy of love.

We’ve not helped to remove barriers for trauma care and treatment. I advocated at the local, state, and national level through my work with Youth Alive! on a number of matters, including support for AB 767, a bill on victim compensation with a focus on treating victims of police violence.

We have a bunch of people that may not have what we think is a value for life, because we have not shown value and care and investment in their life. We have not helped to make sure those who are experiencing the tragedy of gun violence are okay. I’m here to find pathways and to advocate and fight for the help that they need, like my children needed as well coming out of their trauma. And when you’re in trauma, you don’t often make the healthiest decisions. We have not fully expanded resources and services and programs so we have hurt people crippled by the ripple effects of trauma and loss of life.

You were endorsed by several faith leaders. What roles do faith leaders and religious institutions play in District 7 and how will you work with them?

I’m fortunate that those who endorsed me were a very diverse and inclusive group. Those faith leaders that did stand out with me publicly have lots of credibility in the community from the incredible work that they’ve led, like doctor Reverend Martha Taylor and Reverend Cheryl Lord with Allen Temple Baptist Church.

I believe that it’s going to be critical for us to work with our faith leaders on restorative justice and trauma-informed outreach, engagement, and care that we’re talking about as we’re reimagining public safety. Our faith leaders need to be at the table because they have the relationship, they have the credibility and their organizations have been doing some deep work, and they’ve also not been funded. As we’re talking about how we reallocate and reimagine our public safety dollars, we need to look at how we also invest in community partners. We need to invest and target funds for those who have the relationship to engage with community members, where OPD may never have that same measure of credibility. Church and faith leaders do, some of the community-based organizations do.

There’s a large Latino population in D7 yet there were no Latino candidates running for council. Did you engage with this community during your campaign, and how will you work with them moving forward to ensure their needs are met?

We have to meet with them. We have to hear from them. I’ve been out there with our Latinx community, particularly our business merchants. I’ve done merchant walks to hear from our small businesses who’ve been impacted by COVID-19. I’ve been in some smaller community circles with our Latinx neighbors, and we need to broaden that. They are demographically the majority of District 7, and so their voice is powerful. Their impact is powerful and they need to have a seat at the table. We have not done a good job of that.

What will be your approach to working with the other councilmembers?

I will champion the needs of our D7 community, engaging our leaders to get out into D7. In the areas where we’ve not been shown the care, attention, resources, investment, and opportunity, I’m going to fight and champion that so we’re not forgotten. That’s a matter of communicating and saying, ‘How do certain decisions benefit us, how does that benefit East Oakland and District 7?’

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He has spent the last two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the hyperlocal news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, joins us through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. Rodas will be reporting on small and immigrant-owned businesses in Oakland.