Great Oakland Public Schools, a school reform-minded coalition of families and school employees supported by the Rogers Family Foundation and other groups, has become increasingly involved in Oakland school district policy since its founding a few years ago. Now, for the first time, its board of directors has endorsed school board candidates in the November election, through this process.
GO Public Schools announced today that it had endorsed two of the four candidates for District 3 (West Oakland): incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge and challenger Sheilagh Polk. The organization is also backing one of its founding members, James Harris, who is challenging incumbent Alice Spearman for the District 7 seat (East Oakland-Elmhurst).
Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters will rank up to three candidates in November.
As you can see, the District 3 and 7 races have no shortage of candidates so far. It appears to be a different story for District 1 (North Oakland) and District 5 (East Oakland-Fruitvale). I’ve yet to hear of a challenger for incumbent Jody London in District 1 — or of anyone interested in Seat #5, which is wide open. Noel Gallo, who’s represented the area for 20 years, is running for City Council.
Know of someone who’s running for one of those seats? Let us know.
District 3: Dr. Washington Burns, a GO Public Schools board member (and director of West Oakland’s Prescott-Joseph Center) quoted in the announcement, said Hinton-Hodge has been a “consistent voice for equity.” Another, David Stein, said that Polk, formerly of Education Trust-West, would bring “a vision and level of passion that our school board needs.” The other two candidates for the West Oakland seat are Richard Fuentes, policy analyst for Ignacio De La Fuente, and Vicente Cruz, who posted this You Tube video about his candidacy.
District 7: GO didn’t mention Spearman in its endorsement of her challenger. The announcement described Harris, a former high school English teacher, as “an innovative and strategic thinker” who “will be a force for civility, teamwork, and progress on the School Board.”
Spearman also faces a challenge from Mieko Scott, founder of the Imagine That! education foundation. Speaking of English class, I found this homonym mix-up on the foundation’s website this afternoon: “please bare with us as our site is under construction”.
Candidates don’t officially file for office until mid-July, but you can view many of the various campaign documents, including some of the latest contribution disclosures, on the city’s online campaign portal. (Tip: Search by date to see all of the filings.)
Although the interest may be sparse for two of the seats, it’s an improvement from 2010, when only one of the races was competitive.