East Oakland native James Harris is making his first run for public office, challenging the two-term incumbent for the District 7 seat on the Oakland Board of Education.
District 7 includes the hills and flatlands of East Oakland, from 83rd Avenue to the San Leandro border.
“I truly believe that better public schools are the foundation of a new, better Oakland,” Harris said.
“With better schools, youth will be prepared for jobs, neighborhoods will be safer, storefronts will open and companies will relocate,” he said. “ It all starts with improving our schools and taking care of our kids.”
Harris is a former high school English teacher and owner of his own marketing company. He grew up across the street from Burckhalter Elementary School and attended schools in both Oakland and San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from Santa Clara University.
Harris’ passion for education began at age of 16 when he began working as a teaching assistant at the Aim High Summer program, which is dedicated to preparing middle-school children from low-income communities for success in high school and beyond.
Harris worked at Aim High every summer from 1992 until 2003, holding positions as teacher, master teacher and finally site director.
When he finished his university studies, he decided to become a teacher – staying in the classroom until he made the difficult decision to pursue a lifelong dream, a career in advertising and marketing.
For the last eight years, he has served on the Board of Aim High. He was also a founding board member of Great Oakland Public Schools, a local organization that connects and activates the community to advocate for quality public schools.
Harris and his wife have two children.
“Growing up in East Oakland, I had lots of opportunities to go down the wrong path,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have avoided that fate, but a story like mine should be the rule and not the exception. I feel a responsibility – particularly to young Black boys and girls in Oakland – to make that a reality.”
For more information, go to www.harrisforeastoakland.com.