By Lee Hubbard
Oakland’s District 3 political race has been one of the most contested races in Oakland politics.
Current Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who has held the seat since 1996, is not running for reelection. The district includes much of West Oakland, downtown, Lake Merritt and Adams Point.
Political newcomer Derrick Muhammad, a lifelong Oakland resident, is focusing on the issues that are most important to the people.
“People need jobs and safety,” said Muhammad. “Young people especially need access to opportunity through jobs, training and educational programs that will prepare them for a career.”
A graduate of Fremont High School, he is a longshoreman who worked his way through UC Davis law school. He is a commissioner on the Citizens Police Review Board.
One of his top priorities is to expand employment opportunities for Oakland residents through job training, re-entry and apprenticeship programs.
He says barriers to business startups need to be reduced, and the city should do more in support of entrepreneurship and business development.
“Oakland should not be exporting its tax dollars to Walnut Creek, Emeryville or San Leandro,” said Muhammad. “We should be able to spend money where we live.”
The six-candidate race includes Sean Sullivan, Lynette Gibson, Alex Miller-Cole, Nyiesha Dewitt and Oakland Realtor Larry Lionel Young, Jr.
“District 3 needs someone who was born and raised in Oakland and knows the ins and outs of the community as well as the city’s history,” said Muhammad.
Muhammad was not politically active until tragedy struck his family in 2005 when his 23-year-old younger brother was gunned down in an Oakland bar.
“After my brother got killed, I became determined that no other family should experience what my family experienced,” said Muhammad. “That heightened my level of community involvement, to do something to effect change in the community.”
His endorsers include County Supervisor Keith Carson, City Councilmember Desley Brooks, the ILWU and Pastor Gerald Agee of Friendship Christian Center.
“As a guy who grew up in Oakland, Derrick is very sensitive to a lot of the issues taking place in the town,” said Pastor Agee.
Muhammad believes his campaign is catching on with voters.
“People are gravitating to me,” said Muhammad. “This is my first political run, and I am the nonpolitician, and I am genuine. People want that.”