OAKLAND — Two people are challenging 16-year incumbent Desley Brooks for her District Six City Council seat in East Oakland.
Brooks, who was elected in 2002 and currently chairs the Public Safety Committee, has garnered both support and criticism in recent months following a December civil jury finding that she committed elder abuse in a 2015 altercation with former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. The jury ordered the city to pay Brown $3.75 million and Brooks to pay her $550,000 in punitive damages.
The most recent candidate to announce her candidacy is Natasha Middleton, who works as a management analyst for the Alameda County Probation Department, according to a news release from her campaign. The Mills College graduate and mother has served on the Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Oversight Commission, which oversees Measure Z spending. In the past, she has sat on the boards of the Family Violence Law Center and the League of Women Voters. She was also Mayor Libby Schaaf’s community liaison when Schaaf was a council member.
“She’s frustrated at the lack of progress on many of our most chronic challenges: Seniors are pushed out of their homes, families priced out of their neighborhoods, young girls bought and sold for sex on International Boulevard, shootings never seem to stop, and many young people of color need jobs, even though Oakland’s economy is booming,” her website said. “It’s time to stop fighting each other and start fighting together for solutions.”
District Six spans from Interstate 880 into the Oakland hills, bordered between Redwood Road /Kingsland Avenue/Bancroft Avenue/51st Avenue and Keller/82nd/69th avenues. The general election will be held Nov. 6.
Joaquin Miller Elementary Parent-Teacher Association president Loren Taylor has also announced his candidacy. The businessman sits on the executive board for 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, a nonprofit in which volunteers mentor youth, among other things.
“As a third-generation Oaklander, I am frustrated that the benefits of our city’s growth have not translated to improved city services and improved opportunities for Oakland residents,” Taylor said on a crowdfunding website raising money for his campaign. “The growing lack of confidence that residents have in city leaders to improve Oakland is well-deserved and has merit. Why do the same leaders get re-elected for decades when their districts don’t improve?”
Brooks, in her four terms in office, has “dedicated her energies to improving public safety, increasing economic development, improving the physical environment of District Six and advocating on behalf of children and youth,” her profile on the city’s website says.
She spearheaded a city program that gives people of color and people who have had marijuana convictions opportunities in the local cannabis industry, as well as the Oakland Police Department’s Crime Analysis and Mapping project, which collects and analyzes data on police activity and other public safety initiatives.