Making Your Interest Known

Commentary By: Eddie Dillard

With less than two months before Oakland residents go to the polls to elect a new mayor, many questions remain unanswered.
    What are the real public policy issues impacting the quality of life in Oakland? They include poor schools, high rates of crime, high levels of unemployment in certain ethnic groups, insufficient supply of affordable housing, and poor and often non-existent coordination between social services agencies and the direct needs of the citizens of Oakland.
    The three primary candidates for mayor, Council President Ignacio de la Fuente, former Congressman Ronald Dellums and Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, have participated in numerous open debates, but they all have failed to detail a comprehensive strategy to address the issues outlined above. Focusing on one or two of these issues leaves a huge void in the effort to improve the overall quality of life for Oakland residents and does little to stem the black exodus Oakland is currently experiencing.
    While some candidates have called for public debates in every neighborhood in Oakland, others have relied on press conferences and television media to let their positions on various topics be known to the public. These outreach strategies are not sufficient to inform the masses. Let us know what you plan to do within the first 100 days in office. What are your priories? What resources can you bring to address your priorities?
    We should demand that if a candidate truly wants to lead Oakland to a brighter future, it is necessary for that candidate to present a comprehensive strategy that would elevate and promote a better quality of life for all Oakland residents, black, Latino, white, Asian, young, old, unemployed, employed, students and seniors. Oakland residents should get involved in addressing these issues, which require both immediate attention and long-term strategies.
    Oakland residents should make sure that everyone in each household who is eligible to vote registers and pledges to go to the polls on Election Day. This is making your interest in your community known.

   Eddie Dillard is president of the Black Wall Street Merchants Association (www.blackwallstreet. org) and president of the Oakland Black Board of Trade and Commerce. He can be reached at (510) 706-9005 or edillard@blackwallstreet.org.

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