Oakland Politics – or to be clear, politics in Oakland, California – has always been marked by wild, turbulent events and eras that left the city vastly different than it was before. Arguably, this first started with the Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of the Black Panthers, which gave birth to a non-profit community watchdog tradition. A habit reflected in the actions of organizations like OCCUR, for “Oakland Citizen’s Committee For Urban Renewal.” Oakland now has a long history of politics as political dissent. A history continued with the Occupy Movement.
Occupy Wall Street gave birth to it’s more militant brother, Occupy Oakland. Occupy Oakland is a movement such that its proponents claim it’s not political, but one political group has flurished because of it: The Oakland Green Party, which had its campaign kick-off today in front of Oakland City Hall.
For the first time in some years, The Oakland Green Party presents more than one or two people running for office in Oakland. The Greens have four candidates: Theresa Anderson will run for the Oakland City Council At-Large Seat currently held by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan; Donald McCleay, who ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, is running for the Oakland City Council District One Seat; Randy Menjivar is taking on Oakland City Council President Larry Reid in District Seven; Vicente Cruz II is running for the Oakland School Board District Three Seat.
The Oakland Green Party circa 2012 is supportive of the basic idea of the Occupy Oakland Movement, and wants to channel its more constructive message of helping those who need assistance into a more supportive urban policy. That’s certainly clear in the message of Ms. Anderson, who says her reason for running is her concern for Oakland’s youth and her assertion that not enough is being done to make Oakland a healthy place for them. That’s a platform that could work for the long-shot candidate, who’s going up against a person, Kaplan, who has made running for office an art form, and ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, coming up third place in a close race defined by Rank Choice Voting.
Where the Oakland Greens go in 2012 will be marked by how well Theresa Anderson does. If she can stir the kind of grass roots excitement the Occupy Oakland Movement seems to have created, and is now looking for a candidate to back, she and the Greens could alter Oakland’s political course for some time.