So it's a time of transition for a district that has had horrible problems, and the board needs experienced, level-headed leadership.
We're impressed with Jody London, a parent with children in the public schools who runs a small environmental consulting firm. She has been active in the district, co-chairing the 2006 bond campaign that raised $435 million and serving on the bond oversight committee. She has a grasp of fiscal management, understands the challenges the district faces, and has the energy to take them on.
Her main opposition is Brian Rogers, a Republican who has the backing of outgoing state senator Don Perata and is a big fan of private charter schools. Tennessee Reed, a young writer and editor, is also in the race, and we're glad to see her getting active. But on balance, London is the clear choice.
School Board, District 3
OLUBEMIGA OLUWOLE, SR.
Not a great choice here we're not thrilled with either of the two contenders. Jumoke Hinton Hodge, a nonprofit consultant, is too willing to support charter schools. Oluwole, who works with parolees, has limited experience with education. But on the basis of his community background (he's on the board of the Oakland Community Organization) and our concern about Hodge and charter schools, we'll go with Oluwole.
School Board, District 5
Noel Gallo, the incumbent, is running unopposed. He's been a competent member of the board, and we see no reason not to support his reelection.
School Board, District 7
Alice Spearman, the incumbent, isn't the most inspiring member of the board and she's known for making some ill-considered and impolitic statements. But her main opponent, Doris Limbrick, is the principal of a Christian school and has no business running for the board of a public school district. So we'll go with Spearman again.
Alameda County measures
Utility users tax
Measure F extends and slightly increases the utility tax on unincorporated areas of the county. It's not the greatest tax, but it's not terrible and it provides essential revenue to pay for services like law enforcement, libraries, and code enforcement. The parts of Alameda County outside any city boundary have been dwindling as cities expand, but the county provides the only local government services in those areas. And, like every other county in California, Alameda is desperately short of cash. So Measure F is crucial. Vote yes.
Oakland Measure J
Measure J would update a 40-year-old tax on phone use that goes for local services. The tax law applies only to old-fashioned land lines, so cell phone users get away without paying. This isn't the world's most progressive tax, but Oakland needs the money and Measure J would more fairly share the burden. Vote yes.