In November 2006, Oakland's Democratic Party establishment was rocked by progressive Green Party candidate Aimee Allison's near-upset election victory for Oakland City Council District 4, the seat now held by Patricia Kernighan.
By a thin margin, Allison won on election day with the most votes cast in District 4 but later fell just short after late absentee ballots were counted. With Allison's inspirational victory in mind and the upcoming Nov. 6 general election campaign season set to start, a new Oakland electoral coalition -- the Oakland Progressive Alliance (OPA) -- has been formed to challenge Oakland's entrenched Democratic Party establishment.
The OPA is a citywide coalition of Green Party members, progressive Democrats and progressive independents who seek to fundamentally change -- by instilling integrity and competence -- the city of Oakland's dysfunctional political culture.
The media revelations earlier this year of an Oakland City Council member's alleged misuse of city funds and questionable hiring practices to establish a youth center in East Oakland; the continuing controversy over the police department's actions and behavior toward protesters and citizens; and Oakland's untenable violent crime rate represent a long history of city government conflicts of interest and poor accountability practices.
The staunch opposition to instant runoff voting and council term limits held by several city council members
As of this writing, four OPA candidates are set to contest four Oakland elective offices, including three City Council seats and one school board seat.
The working model for OPA is the policy success of nearby Richmond in the form of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Since 2010, Richmond has undergone what can only be described as a progressive political transformation unmatched anywhere else in the Bay Area.
Since capturing a working majority of the Richmond City Council in 2010, the Richmond Progressive Alliance -- under the leadership of Green Party Mayor Gayle McGlaughlin -- has significantly reduced levels of violent crime and sought to establish social peace on Richmond's streets.
Overall, violent crime in Richmond dropped 14 percent in 2011 from the previous year. Armed robbery and carjackings dropped 33 percent and 35 percent respectively. Attempted robbery is down 65 percent.
This drop in Richmond's violent crime levels is directly linked to an array of innovative crime prevention programs introduced by Mayor McGlaughlin and her progressive city council colleagues.
These programs represent what actually works on the streets of urban communities, including "Project Ceasefire" and the "Safe Return Project," a program that works closely with released inmates returning to the Richmond community.
These successful Richmond crime prevention programs represent one of the cores of the Oakland Progressive Alliance's electoral platform. "Project Ceasefire" and "Safe Return" are proven tools that can work to reduce violent crime and establish social peace on Oakland's streets.
On Nov. 6, Oakland voters have an opportunity to fundamentally change the direction and culture of Oakland's city government by voting for a coalition committed to making a clean break from the current status quo.
OPA's citywide slate includes the following candidates: Don Macleay, City Council, District 1 (North Oakland); Randy Menjivar, City Council, District 7 (East Oakland); Theresa Anderson, City Council, At Large; and Vincente Rafael Cruz, School Board, District 3 (Fruitvale/East Oakland).
Chris Kavanagh is an Oakland Greens member and a former elected Green Party City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner (2002-2008).