OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | DISTRICT 6 |
Rarely do you see Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks shrink from a good fight. But, running against three challengers who are all vigorously ringing the bell of change for the downtrodden East Oakland district, Brooks was left scampering for suitable responses during a candidates forum last week.
” Johnson's performance caught many by surprise last Thursday night for being measured, intelligent, but also forceful. No better example of Johnson’s rhetorical talents were on display last week than when he creatively pivoted on the word “change” in reference to a question on the city adapting to climate change. The response was akin to Johnson pinching Brooks under the table while smiling for the audience. “For us to actually affect change we need to make a change in District 6,” said Johnson. He added the city doesn’t have a suitable policy for fighting climate change. “Since we don’t have one, we can’t expect to get one from where we’ve been and how to get to where we want to go. The first thing we need to do is recognize, if we don’t have something and it’s been there for a long time, then you can’t expect that to happen going forward.
”Next, Johnson pounded away at the district’s lack of fresh grocery options. “District 6 is the economic donut hole that exists in Oakland. Development is going on all over Oakland, but not District 6,” said Johnson. One grocery store serving a community of 55,000, said Johnson, “suggests that we have negligible quality of life.” Johnson’s statement appeared to rattled Brooks, whose answers from thereon were delivered in a rambling fashion. The pace of her speech quickened only making her answers seem unsure and less effective. Brooks boasted of creating community gardens in the district and, in fact, has been working on bringing national chain grocery store to the area, she said, but the dissolution of redevelopment agencies by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago scuttled one plan for three stores.
“What we allow is what will continue,” Johnson continued. He recalls having restaurants and places to play in East Oakland. “What in the world has happened to District 6?” said Johnson. “I have lived in this community for 50 years…no one needs to tell me how things use to be, I was there.”