District 7 Oakland City Councilmember Treva Reid. Credit: Amir Aziz

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Treva Reid comes from a family with deep roots in Oakland politics. Reid, the daughter of former Councilmember Larry Reid, won the District 7 seat her father held for two decades in 2020. 

In an interview with The Oaklandside, Reid reflected on her first year and a half in office and the work ahead of her in the East Oakland council district she represents. She also shared her perspective as a single mother and addressed a question about her stance on abortion rights, which recently became the subject of news stories. 

This is part of our series of Q&As with councilmembers. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Reflecting back on your first year and a half on City Council, what are some of the moments you are most proud of? 

I would certainly start with the bi-annual budget. Our community has been advocating for more resources, more investment, and more response. Through that budget process, I was able to secure funds for programs and strategies that contributed to helping move East Oakland forward—funding for traffic calming safety measures, housing stability, community parks, small business, senior services, public health, and public safety. 

We held at least eight town hall meetings last year to hear from our community, to uplift the priorities that they wanted us to drive toward to keeping us safe and protected, keeping us working and our businesses open, keeping the city clean and beautiful, keeping our community housed and housed permanently, and keeping East Oakland prioritized. We delivered all of those. Our first 100 days were strong. 

One of the things I am absolutely proud of is the work I was able to lead with our COVID-19 vaccination and testing distribution. We know that in the county of Alameda and in the city of Oakland that East Oakland zip codes had the highest diagnosis and disproportionate effects of the virus. As a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, I helped lead our city efforts with the county and state Office of Emergency Serves to prioritize and more equitably distribute resources, with the Oakland Coliseum being one of two mass vaccination sites. Beyond that we worked to ensure that OES, FEMA, and Governor Newsom delivered a more critical equity approach to ensure the community that was most impacted and that may not make it to the Coliseum have services in the community with partnerships with a number of organizations. 

If I could add one legislative one, it would be declaring gun violence a public health crisis. It really called on Alameda County to deliver resources to the city and violence prevention services. I stood with community-based organizations who were lifting up this cry of saying we have not received support to combat the issue that we are facing with gun violence and shootings. In East Oakland, we have faced the crippling effects coming out of last year with more than 50% of the homicides taking place there and more than 60% of those lives lost were Black men and too many women. That resolution called for deeper investments for violence programs.

Right now there are 752 police officer positions budgeted. But Chief LeRonne Armstrong has been quoted saying there needs to be around 1,100 officers due to the actual level of violent crime and calls for service. Is there a number in your head of how many officers Oakland needs? 

What is adequate now is us reaching the number that we budgeted for. We are woefully understaffed at OPD. Public safety and the housing crisis are the two greatest challenges that we have. Our community is demanding more resources and more response from patrol, community safety presence in our businesses corridors and residential areas, having dispatch available to prioritize just picking up a call and allowing someone to know they are being heard and responded to. Last year and coming into this year, in the area that I serve, we’ve been able to transition with work with Chief Armstrong and the police officers’ association to reorganize where our officers are located so we can improve response times and results in the areas with some of the highest spikes of crime. 

That decision last year was the community’s cry. Community members of color, particularly Black elder members and women, where the data was showing that Black women at the highest rates were calling 911 and retraumatized in the midst of trauma by not receiving a response. We have people calling 911 and not receiving the justice of having someone answer the call, having to wait minutes or hours or days for someone to come to the scene or your home to identify what that threat was. 

For years, Oakland had allocated its police resources into five different geographic areas of the city but recently created Area 6 in order to focus on a high number of calls coming in from East Oakland. What do the numbers show now since the creation of the sixth police district? 

I’ll give you an example. On a recent Sunday, there were 64 calls pending in my area. [911 calls that the police couldn’t immediately respond to.] It’s certainly shifting down from 200 calls. On a recent Tuesday, there were 124 calls pending citywide, 78 of those calls pending in my area. That number used to be 200 daily. Yet there are still people who are calling seeking a response and while we are working to build up our dispatch, we have invested in MACRO, which just launched. We have yet to fully realize what we are hoping will come out of MACRO as we expand it beyond pilot areas, as we work to deploy that team to take those calls that should be shifted from OPD beat officers. 

The MACRO rollout started a few months ago and in early August crews began taking calls from dispatchers. One of the MACRO zones is in your council district. What have you heard so far from constituents and others about it? 

I think people are still learning what MACRO is. We heard from community members that they want to be more engaged with MACRO. They want to have public updates from the MACRO advisory board and the board wants to be more involved in decisions, strategies, and solutions. Those are things we still need to improve on as we are launching the program. We must make sure the community is aware that we have outreach and engagement and that MACRO is showing up doing what it is intended to do. We go out in our districts and we do merchant walks and community canvassing to partner with MACRO. MACRO is just starting and we’ve yet to fully realize the benefit but we know it is the right direction to go. 

Oakland City Hall in conversation series

I asked you earlier about some of your proudest moments. Are there any regrets so far in your first term or any initiatives that you haven’t been able to achieve? 

The Emerald New Deal. It was a community-driven proposal for a ballot measure this November that sought to funnel 100% of the city’s [cannabis] tax revenue to Black and brown communities in East and West Oakland. It was designed to repair the harm done to our most impacted communities caused by the war on drugs. It would have delivered an estimated $160 million in cannabis tax dollars to improve the lives of thousands of residents, with a transparent and dedicated funding path to support affordable housing, re-entry services, workforce development, and other restitution. Our data that we have on the impact of the war on drugs through our department on race and equity was very clear. We had over 12,000 Oaklanders that were arrested between 1995 and 2015 for crimes related to cannabis—77% of them were Black and 15% Latino. 

That was significantly impactful to family stability and housing stability. It has disrupted lives. We are living in the angst of many of those systematic and structurally racist decisions. Our records show that Oakland’s African American population has more than double the rate of unemployment compared to other counterparts and more than seven times the poverty rate that we can trace back to the war on drugs. 

This ballot proposition was birthed out of Sobrante Park in District 7. It takes a lot to get folks to show up because they’ve been disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned for so long by our government. This was a time they rose up collectively with 40 organizations citywide to bring together a blueprint to city leaders to create a path to support our community members who have been impacted. That was not supported by all the council colleagues. 

It met resistance from the majority of the City Council and failed to make the ballot. What in your view was the motivation behind that resistance? Was it political? 

The community felt that it was personal and very political. All they were asking was to put it out and let the voters decide. They’ve done the work for two years to bring this forward. And yes there is still work to be done and they are learning how to get it done, learning how to bring ballot measures to the table. 

They felt shut out of the process. They felt that city leaders wanted to silence them and even felt targeted with words being used back at them like “criminal.” That’s harmful. That’s hurtful. It doesn’t help us to support organizing and mobilizing our community to overcome racially inequitable impacts from the war on drugs or the decades of devastating outcomes in East and West Oakland. We will keep working with them to find paths to restore our community. We have felt the weight of crippling impacts of disinvestment, systematic injustice, and racial disparities. It certainly felt political. They felt the weight of the barrier. Mr. Charles Reed [one of the ballot measure’s advocates] even shared at the press conference that he felt battered and bruised from baseless accusations in his first fight coming out as a returning citizen. He felt the clear weight of politics and what I called “poli-tricks” that have allowed us to not affect policy for the people. 

If you could change one big thing about the way that city government here works, what would it be? 

I believe it’s what we just did this week in East Oakland. We launched an incredible community safety task force and held a day of action. It’s showing up to meet the community where they are. Listening to them. Hearing them. Responding to them. And developing a budget that strives for equity and solutions and outcomes with the community at the table. They are not coming to City Hall. Most of those I serve are not coming to City Council meetings. What we did we showed up with 20 community-based organizations and met them with resources and with information on housing support, nutrition, wellness services, personal protective equipment, workforce training, and offering jobs on eight blocks in East Oakland between 82nd Avenue to 90th Avenue on International Boulevard. 

Those blocks represent one of the most negatively impacted areas of Oakland, where they have been burdened with open-air drug markets, traffic safety issues, illegal dumping and blight, services needed for unhoused residents in homeless encampments, gun violence and shootings, business closures. It’s a corridor that has experienced so much. We are working in these eight blocks to impact how we can collectively come together and show up for our community where they are. We have got to get out of City Hall and break down the walls of City Hall. 

I hope what we are doing in East Oakland can be modeled throughout the city to help us truly recover. 

Councilmember Treva Reid attending the inaugural block party showcasing the best in East Oakland’s food, arts, tech, and culture during Juneteenth weekend 2022. Credit: Amir Aziz

What do you think Mayor Libby Schaaf’s legacy will be? Where do you align with Libby? In what ways are you different? 

I think she’ll have to determine her legacy. That’s something for her to reflect on—based on what her commitment to the community was and the goals and priorities she set. I’m not being dismissive. I am not able to speak for what her legacy will be. 

I’m a connector. I’m a bridge builder. I bring people together. And that started from being born into a large family. Our family is deeply rooted and when you love someone you take care of them and make sure they have the basics. We have never had family members put out—I don’t care what the dysfunction may have been or what the dynamics were, we show up for those that we love. That’s what my values of leading and serving are deeply rooted in. Before I even came on council I served on boards and committees. I worked for Nancy Skinner. I am on the only person in this current race that has the ability to build coalitions and partnerships statewide to deliver legislation and funding and to understand how you can strategically determine funding formulas that benefit Oakland. I bring a sense of let’s come together, let’s work together, let’s build together, let me meet you where you are and let’s get it done. 

I’ve done it in Fortune 500 companies professionally. I launched my own business to show up for single mothers like me, who have endured things I have endured like housing insecurity, overcoming intimate domestic partner abuse, and experiencing the deep trauma of losing our son Brandon to gun violence. 

What I bring in my leadership is lived leadership that brings a level of empathy and compassion to understand where people are. 

Your past and present views on abortion have become the subject of news stories. Can you take me through your position on abortion, how it changed over time, and the timeline of that evolution. 

I think you will see from the news article, it is personal, it is a painful journey of not just what I’ve endured but what many women have endured. The decision to overturn Roe V. Wade was shocking. It was troubling because it puts women at risk. I felt the weight of that having been a woman who has supported a woman’s right to choose. 

It was frustrating to be attacked in the midst of processing publicly, like so many other women, this very harmful decision for all women and especially for women of color who are disproportionately impacted and faced with that personal decision. I walked that out and it was a struggle for me. I came from a family that is deeply rooted in our faith. We didn’t talk about sex, let alone abortion. 

I wasn’t able to share what I was experiencing in an incredibly abusive relationship and trying to walk through this by myself. It’s been a process and the Roe decision has brought me into a more public place. I remember speaking in the church about my experience having an abortion. I remember sitting in church thinking how many other women are feeling what I am feeling that they don’t have a voice in a place they are supposed to feel safe in. I began trying to find that path in the church to bring to the forefront the issue that many had been facing and didn’t want to speak about. 

At one of those churches where I was speaking and sharing my journey, there was a woman in her 80s who pulled me to the back of the church and said I have never shared this in my life, not even with my husband. She spoke about her abortion. That was a light that went off. This woman has lived for 80 years. She’s a woman who is a Democrat, comes from a party where being able to speak openly and publicly about being pro-choice, yet she had not been to speak about it for decades. At that moment, she found a safe place because I had the courage to share my story in a place that hasn’t always been and still is not a place where women of faith can ask for help and talk about their experiences without being judged.

I was learning and going through that process myself. I was learning how to process what my faith was saying, what my community of faith was saying, and how to engage with other people on an issue that had been so personal. I was learning how to open up my mouth and come into a place of freedom. 

There was a process of evolving through that. This is something for years I never talked about. I never told anyone. Here I am this Democratic woman growing up in this pro-choice movement and yet like many in the Democratic party not knowing how to speak to this issue because it is so personal and painful. 

On the Howard Terminal ballpark proposal, what commitments do you need to see from the A’s to make you feel comfortable approving the plan? 

As much as the A’s want to hit a homerun, we want a deal that delivers for the city of Oakland. The A’s committed that the stadium would be financed by them. I want to help them, but I want to hold them to the commitment that this is not going to be a ballpark funded by taxpayer dollars, that we are going to hold ourselves accountable to make sure we are protecting our general fund. We do not have the financial deal before us, so we have been moving along this path of negotiating to understand how this project can be of benefit for the A’s to stay and for the city to maintain our commitment to staying whole with our general fund. We don’t have enough funds to deliver critical municipal services. 

We have to make sure we protect that for our residents. We have to do more to present what we can share legally and the status of the project. We need to ensure there’s greater outreach and awareness with where we are with community benefits. We need to make sure the project creates affordable housing, local hire job standards, anti-displacement support, pedestrian and cyclist safety, traffic congestion and seaport mitigation, air quality protection, and small business support. The benefits should be felt from Howard Terminal to deep East Oakland.  

Speaking of East Oakland, the city entered an exclusive negotiating agreement with the African American Sports & Entertainment Group to develop the A’s current home. What would you like to see happen at the Coliseum? 

We are looking to build up the Coliseum and ensure an economic engine there is realized. I believe East Oakland will rise and thrive. My office is excited to help drive that vision forward and a part of AASEG’s vision is to deliver on 30,000 jobs in Oakland. I shared earlier that we have experienced the highest unemployment rate. We’ve also had some of the highest rates of business closures. In 2020 alone, over 500 businesses closed in the zip codes I represent. 

The development at the Coliseum should bring a pipeline of jobs, workforce development, school mentor partnerships, deeply affordable housing, and this transit corridor we’ve realized can already benefit. It should be an opportunity for generational wealth. We should see more living wage jobs and community ownership in this project to preserve East Oaklanders from further displacement. 

David DeBolt reported on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.