Laura Thomas volunteers for the Alameda Justice Alliance.
Island Progressives Comprise Majority
Alamedans elected a progressive and social justice-oriented majority on the City Council in 2018. It was an achievement for a city that calls itself the city of “homes and beaches,” a slogan that probably originated with the business and real estate interests. For decades, this slogan seemed to suit our idyllic town, and many people, but not all, benefited from this perspective.
Unfortunately, the high-tech boom and the aftermath of the 2008 mortgage debacle have fueled the desire for high profits in real estate and rents to a point where such investment no longer appears benign but tears right into the heart of a community.
In Alameda, we have responded to this social crisis, fueled by a strong sense of community, to defend our neighbors by pushing for rent control, for minimum wage, for the creation of affordable housing and the care of the homeless. We fought back in 2018 by electing our current Councilmembers and Mayor and defeating a ballot measure attacking renters. In 2019, we supported the establishment of a medical respite facility for frail and largely homeless seniors.
We are a compassionate community but must not let down our guard. Just as the Trump agenda to smash progressive policies nationally are hidden behind voter fraud allegations, attacks on public education and unions, the assault on Alameda’s new majority is hidden behind attacks on the Council’s alleged incompetence and corruption.
The attempt to tarnish the reputation of the Council dates back to early 2018. Supporters of the “homes-and-beaches” narrative took their first assault on Alameda’s progressive Council and its support of renters by sponsoring Measure K. Alamedans beat back Measure K and that’s why the cries of corruption continue.
We must be able to discern between a perceived lack of judgment and major corruption. We must scrutinize these allegations based on their substance and their source before jumping on an “anti-corruption” bandwagon.
Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor John Knox White and Councilmembers Malia Vella and Jim Oddie, have each demonstrated a willingness to put a face to the actions of bolstering the community. All four declared their support of the city’s renters before their elections and, this year, they acted in unison to enact just-cause eviction and other renter protections as well as responding in a crisis to aid some of our city’s most vulnerable by modifying the city’s ordinances to prohibit discrimination against Sec. 8 tenants.
They are outspoken on many issues that interest Alamedans from improving transportation and traffic safety to taking on more difficult national issues such as gun control. The commitment of these Councilmembers to building affordable housing is long standing. Their attention to the issues of equity in adopting a climate protection plan is extremely important. They are working to make sure that “Everyone is Welcome Here” is not another empty slogan but one that proves our city’s aspirations towards justice and equity — long deferred — are finally taking shape.