Democracy Dollars are coming to Oakland Elections!
“We’re already hearing from reformers in other cities who are inspired by our victory … in Oakland. Democracy Dollars represents the future of campaign finance reform, and I’m proud that Oakland is helping to lead the way.”
-- Jonathan Mehta Stein, California Common Cause
In future elections, Oaklanders will fund candidates with Democracy Dollars. Residents will receive $100 in vouchers that they can give to their chosen candidate(s) for local public office. Candidates will then redeem the vouchers for public funds to run their campaigns.
Measure W puts the implementation and oversight of Democracy Dollars in the hands of the City’s Public Ethics Commission and provides for additional staffing and funding to support its expanded responsibilities.
Measure W is modeled on a program in Seattle that has proved increasingly successful over three election cycles. This has meant more candidates unconnected to large donors have been able to run successful campaigns. And it has encouraged a more diverse set of voters to participate in campaigns.
Replicating Seattle’s success in Oakland will take ongoing involvement and outreach. COUNT ON IT - the League will be there collaborating with our partners and the City to implement Measure W.
What the League of Women Voters is Doing About Redistricting in Oakland
What is Redistricting?
Redistricting is the process by which we draw lines around electoral districts, determining who
votes in each district for city council and school board representatives. In 2014, Oakland voters approved a ballot measure placing future redistricting processes in the hands of a citizen commission rather than elected officials. 2021-22 was the first time the law was implemented allowing a citizens’ commission to redraw the district lines.
Why do we redistrict?
Redistricting occurs every 10 years to account for changes revealed by census data. District lines are redrawn to ensure equal numbers of residents in each district.
Oakland’s population grew by 50,000 over the past decade, with increases to the city’s Hispanic, white, and Asian populations, while the Black population shrank, according to Census Bureau data released last week.
Oakland now has a total population of 440,646, up 12.8% from the 2010 total of 390,724. The city is 28% Hispanic (up from 25% a decade ago), 27% white (up from 25%), 20% Black (down from 27%), and 15% Asian (down from 16%), the census data shows. (The number of Asian people living in Oakland grew by 7.3%, even though their percentage of the total population fell slightly.)
The city’s overall gains are due largely to growth in the Hispanic and white populations, which increased by 28% and 18.6% respectively. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of Hispanic people living in Oakland jumped by 27,775, from 99,068 to 126,843.
How Has the local League been involved?
The League supports independent redistricting commissions at national, state and local levels. Oakland’s League joined these efforts and participated in the writing of Oakland’s 2014 ballot measure. In the run up to the recent redistricting effort, the League spoke up for adequate funding to support the first citizens commission.
Since late 2020 when the commission was formed, the League has attended meetings and advocated on how to best manage the process when it seemed the legislation’s original intent was not being honored or when problems emerged.
We will continue to follow the process through analysis of the commissioners’ own report on how this first citizen-led effort transpired. We will write our own report informed by our observations in Oakland but also by League wide reflections at the state level. The goal is to keep fine tuning the process so that it improves by the next round following the 2030 census. In particular, we will seek clearer guidelines for commissioners regarding how Oakland assets such as Lake Merritt, the Coliseum, the airport, and the Port Of Oakland should be addressed in redistricting.
Redistricting efforts in 2021-22 offer an example of how the League promotes citizen engagement to improve the transparency, effectiveness and responsiveness of local government while providing a trusted source of information for the public. This League work continues under the guidance of the LWVO Action Committee. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
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