A view of the East Oakland flatlands as seen from the hills. Credit: Amir Aziz

Election 2022: community voices

We teamed up with our friends at Oakland Voices to survey residents on the issues they care about most pertaining to this year’s elections for the OUSD school board and City Council in districts 2, 4 and 6, and mayor.

Read the other articles in the series so far:

OUSD voices

District 2 voices

District 4 voices

District 6 is home to some of Oakland’s most notable and iconic landmarks: the historic 170-year-old Mills College campus (now a part of Northeastern University), a large portion of Redwood Regional Park, and even the antiquated but locally-cherished Oakland Coliseum. 

The district, which includes parts of both the East Oakland hills and flatlands, has also long been a destination for families hoping to find an affordable place of their own in one of the East Bay’s most bustling and expensive cities.

This November, D6 voters will choose between four candidates competing to represent them on the City Council: Yakpasua Zazaboi, Kevin Jenkins, Kenneth Session, and Nancy Sidebotham.

Oakland Voices and The Oaklandside teamed up to ask D6 residents what issues most matter to them, heading into election season. Our reporters interviewed people from various neighborhoods and spoke with patrons at a high-traffic gas station in the heart of D6 on the corner of Seminary and MacArthur Boulevard. Most of the people we spoke to said they enjoy the district and described their neighborhoods as places where they can relax and get to know their neighbors. There’s much they’d like to see fixed, however, and their concerns include the area’s schools, the lack of nearby grocery stores, dilapidated roads and sidewalks, road safety, and gun violence.

Read on to see what they had to say, in their own words. All of the responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Terry Lovett

Terry Lovett outside of the Homies Empowerment building in East Oakland. Credit: Ricky Rodas

I was born in Highland Hospital and spent time living in Brookfield Village, and lived all over East Oakland. I currently stay on 68th Avenue [in Havenscourt]. We have a lot of activity going on in Oakland, lots of shootings. I’ve been here on my block for 13 years though, and it’s very quiet. The neighbors—we don’t know each other by name— but when we see each other, we’re friendly. I wanted to live in a quiet area because my children were still living with me at the time, so I tried to pick an area where there wasn’t too much activity going on. 

One of the issues I care about are the road conditions. They’re not safe for your car. They’re not safe to ride a bike. I recently tried teaching my granddaughter how to roller skate on the sidewalk and I couldn’t because of all the cracks. I don’t remember if the roads were as bad when I was a teenager because I wasn’t driving at the time. I do remember though that we could roller skate and we could jump rope, and now the streets aren’t safe enough for kids to do that. Illegal dumping in this area is also bad. Oakland looks like trash, period.

Andrea Warren

Andrea Warren in the East Oakland hills. Photo courtesy A. Warren

I am in Eastmont Hills, and I’ve been here for six years now. [Me and my partner] have been happy here, we love it. We had moved a lot recently and were thinking about purchasing a house. We were priced out of locations with more access to transportation—there’s not great access, if you take BART regularly—which is partly how we ended up here. Honestly, in the past years that we’ve lived in this neighborhood, we’d probably be priced out here also if we were looking to purchase a house now. 

There aren’t many services out here. It’s definitely noticeable that we don’t have many grocery stores. I have to go to San Leandro or Montclair. Since I’ve lived here, there have been attempts, like the neighborhood farmers market they had on Mountain Boulevard a couple of years ago. There is The Deep, a deep East Oakland-based group that’s been trying to find a location in the area to start a food cooperative. 

I don’t have children, but having access to schools in the area is an issue too. I’ve been loosely following how the OUSD school closures have predominantly been in certain areas (one of the closed schools, Parker K-8, is in D6). Kids not being able to walk to school from their homes is a big travesty. 

Devonna S.

Homies Empowerment volunteer Helena Brantley hands out food donations on MacArthur Boulevard in the Eastmont neighborhood in District 6 on July 21, 2020. Credit: Pete Rosos

The potholes in my neighborhood are the main issue I’d like the new D6 representative to focus on. Both illegal dumping and vehicle safety are problems, but dumping in the neighborhood is a big problem. I live in a house with a yard and every day I have to clean up what other people have dumped. I think there should be more public trash cans or something.

I don’t have any issues getting access to fresh food though. They have the new thing going on where they have the refrigerators outside and they’re also giving away food on certain days. That has really worked for me.

Brenda Banks

The new D6 City Council representative should focus on crime and homelessness.  Anybody that knows Oakland, knows how bad it is. We need better officials that are really going to represent us instead of themselves.

Kim Banks

A view of High Street looking towards the Oakland Hills in District 6. Several D6 residents who spoke to The Oaklandside said reckless driving is a concern they’d like to see elected officials address. Credit: Amir Aziz

I lived in Richmond for about 18 years and then purchased a home in Oakland in 2016. I originally moved here with my daughter and my mother who is 90 years old. I wanted us to be somewhere safe where she could be outside with her walker and not have any issues. We moved to Maxwell Park in 2020. 

People have been in this area for a really long time. Some of the neighbors that we’ve met have been here for 30-plus years. We met one neighbor who publishes a little neighborhood newspaper and she brought us some older copies, and it’s very interesting. It was a very family-oriented area, so it’s really interesting to see it now.

I think probably the biggest issue that I’ve noticed is the speed of the cars that drive up and down the streets. In the two years I’ve been here, there have been multiple accidents on my street. There was a really bad one where we had an ambulance called, but the others have just been people driving too fast and not paying attention. There are no stop signs on my block and people don’t stop, they just fly down the street. They’re going 50 miles an hour down the street, and it’s a little bit of the hill. If they have to stop, it’s a problem, you know?

Dale Boyer

Illegal dumping has been an ongoing frustration for many residents in East Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

The issues I’d like the new D6 representative to focus on are reckless driving and crime, for sure. Reckless driving being first, and crime being second.

I have to go [to] downtown Oakland to shop [for groceries], so I need to actually leave my neighborhood to make that happen.

I haven’t had issues with illegal dumping on my block, but on International Boulevard I see a bunch. It was way worse when I lived in West Oakland though because there’s more open ground over there where people just dump everything. It’s a lot better in East Oakland. 

My message to the incoming D6 representative is to actually come out here and speak to your residents more often.

Paul Dodge

Cars drive down Bancroft Avenue. A number of Oakland’s most dangerous corridors for drivers and pedestrians are in East Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

Roads are a major issue in D6 [and] driving is a major one. We have people running red lights and doing sideshows every night. I live on 65th Avenue. They recently put new pipes down on our street but instead of fixing the street, all they did was patch it. We were told they were actually going to fix it but they did not. We even have a school on our street for handicapped children, which brings a lot of buses, but we must literally zigzag on the street because it’s uneven and patchy. They should come check it out, it’s really, really bad.

My message to the new D6 rep is to come out here at night. Go to the intersection on Foothill and 73rd and see how many people run that red light.   

Lauren Janelle Richardson, an East Oakland resident & founder of BypassTV, is a multi-tiered media producer that specializes in capturing stories through video, photography, journalism and audio productions. She also is a legal apprentice.

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team 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.