Berkeleyside recently published an opinion piece by Uche Uwahemu and Leisa Johnson criticizing the judgment of Jovanka Beckles because of her support for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. For many of us in California who supported the platform of the Green Party, support for Jill Stein was warranted. We could proudly vote for a candidate who supported single-payer health care, cuts in wasteful military spending, free college education, and rejection of super-PAC money. Jovanka and I could do this without helping Trump because California was not a contested state. After the primary, I supported voter campaigns for Hillary in other states while using my vote for Jill Stein to help build a movement for issues I believe in.
The Berkeleyside piece also criticized Jovanka for her record of opposing housing development in Richmond. They quoted her as saying “Richmond does not have a housing crisis.” The remainder of the quote, which was omitted, said: “Richmond has an affordable housing crisis.” It should be noted that not all housing plans are designed for needed homes. Some are designed for upscale development, leading to the gentrification that displaces long-term residents. Beckles, along with the progressive wing of the Richmond City Council, has been an advocate for housing that more people can afford. Her view, shared by many, is that adding market-rate housing does not help with housing a large number of people who are displaced when they can no longer afford the rates of an overpriced market. Her commitment to fixing the crisis in affordable housing can be seen in the state legislation that she is supporting. For example:
SB 912 – to direct $2 billion from the state general fund’s surplus to the construction of affordable housing;
AB 2065 – to encourage the use of surplus public land for affordable housing;
AB 2562 – State provision of $500 million in low-interest loan funds to replace federal funds lost;
AB 2923 – to support the construction of 20,000 units at or near BART stations;
AB 3152 – to provide property tax relief for affordable rental housing;
AB 2162 – to fast-track approvals for supportive housing for the homeless
During the time of the progressive city council in Richmond, the city has reduced its crime rate substantially and developed Richmond as a cultural center for its citizens; particularly, its youth. Her emphasis in juvenile justice reform has been to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with measures of restorative justice that have shown to be effective wherever they have been tried.
Regarding the Richmond City Council’s position rejecting cooperation with space-based surveillance, there are many informed sources in the Bay Area who regard this not as a conspiracy theory, but a potentially serious threat to human rights for privacy. The extent of this concern has appeared in a number of articles and books, such as “Loving Big Brother: Performance, Privacy and Surveillance Space” by John Edward McGrath.
There are always ways to express differences in opinion. The particular article faults Jovanka for un-polite or demeaning statements while itself being an example of such rhetoric. Jovanka deserves an invitation to respond to it.