A City Council for All of Us

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

Yesterday, I had the fortune to launch on Zennie62 and also, get respond to some queries on Love, Health and Advocacy. I first met Tanya Love when she came to a house/store party I had in Uptown at Inkwell Tattoo Studio in February. I have been excited to watch how she has covered the Oakland council through Twitter. She left Wednesday night’s forum with more questions than answers and asked three more questions on her blog. I will be responding to them over the next few days. Here is what she asked & what I said first about what I can only describe as the Oakland City Council Meeting Mess.

What is your response to restricting access, how Council is currently handling meetings and would you do things differently if elected in November?

The current restrictions are terrible. In this situation, locking the public out in response to public unrest over the failure of government to respond is exactly the wrong thing to do. If these actions do not violate the Ralph Brown Act, they certainly violate the spirit of them. We need an open government that is accessible and accountable to the people. Removing seats, clearing chambers, limiting access is the opposite direction to go in.

Doing Things Differently-Oakland needs to provide greater opportunities for dialogue in the first place. I have committed at my nearly 40 house parties and at candidate forums to a robust engagement of district 3 residents if I have the honor of being elected. From 7 am coffee meetings in Adams Point on your way to work to evening meetings in out door venues in West Oakland, we will discuss the issues facing our city and gain strength from a diversity of view points. But it’s not enough to be open, we must be responsive at the difficult times to heal wounds and prevent further conflict. If I am elected, I will have a standing order with the police in my district that I should be contacted immediately at every officer involved shooting and any homicide.

The city needs a new approach to governance. Our city currently functions to keep the status quo lumbering along. It plagues our budgeting process, public safety service and starves our neighborhood’s of essential services. If elected, I could be one of three new council members. I hope together we will shift the philosophy of governance to a citizen focused model. As Paulette Hogan, the great Oakland based HIV activist and public watchdog, used to say with some spirit, we need it where “Customer Service in Oakland is an attitude not a department!” That starts with the attitude of the Oakland City Council.

Sean Sullivan is a candidate for District 3 on the Oakland City Council. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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