By Walter Riley
Oakland civil rights attorneyIn this City Council race, we have an opportunity to elect Richard Raya, a candidate for City Council in District 1, who is progressive like us, but also represents everything our generation has fought for. The son of farm workers, Raya overcame all odds to go to UC Berkeley, graduate with a Masters Degree and become an expert at making local government work. I believe Raya’s life experience, his 15-year career of success in local government and his vision for Oakland, makes him the most compelling candidate to represent District 1. He holds our values and he has actually experienced poverty, racial discrimination, homelessness and the other ills that we progressives seek to cure. Raya would also be the first person of color to represent North Oakland in my lifetime—and perhaps ever. Raya embodies all that I have worked for in my fight for civil rights. He has successfully mediated between the same groups we need to bring together in Oakland—helping community, labor, and business join forces in 2006 to pass a $20 billion school bond. He is also the only candidate in District 1 with experience balancing a large government budget: As budget director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, he oversaw a $120 million budget and 600 employees and found ways to save $6 million every year in tough economic times, allowing the county to maintain vital health services. Raya’s campaign motto says he “Loves this town.” I believe it. His vision for a safer, more prosperous city is one all of us can rally around. His support for CeaseFire—a proven violence reduction strategy that has worked in cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles—reflects a deep understanding of how a community can join hands to face our challenges together. Raya’s experience shows what our progressive community is capable of. Our hard-won efforts over the years have helped put him in a position to succeed: Now is the time to stand behind leaders like Richard Raya as they move ahead to lead our city.