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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City Council, District 3 — City of Oakland

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About this office

Members of the city council draft and vote on city laws and appoint certain municipal officers and employees.
This office uses ranked-choice voting, or “instant run-off voting.” When marking your ballot, instead of voting for just one candidate, rank up to three candidates in order of your preference.See the Voting info section for more.
You must select at least 2 candidates to compare them.


You can vote for 3 of these 2 candidates.

Lynette Gibson McElhaney

Oakland City Council President
Top 3 Priorities
  1. HOLISTIC PUBLIC SAFETY: Through the establishment...
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Noni D. Session

Assistant Librarian
Top 3 Priorities
  1. FIGHT TO END THE HOUSING CRISIS - Implement Real Renter...
  3. CREATE COMMUNITY-BASED SOLUTIONS - Build neighborhood...
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Oakland City Councilmember
13,147 votes (56.5%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • HOLISTIC PUBLIC SAFETY: Through the establishment of a dedicated Department of Violence Prevention invest in crime prevention and restorative justice programs that will radically reduce homicide and domestic violence
  • AFFORDABLE HOUSING & EQUITABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH: By increasing housing production, strengthening local hire, expanding international trade, redressing homelessness and chronic unemployment and supporting small business enterprise
  • PROTECTING DIVERSITY & IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE: Protecting Oakland's historic cultural institutions, supporting Oakland artists and arts organizations and redressing blight and environmental harms



Profession:Oakland City Council President
Councilmember, District 3, City of Oakland (2013–current)
Board Member, Alameda County Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP) — Appointed position (2013–current)
Executive Committee / Board Member, East Bay Economic Development Alliance — Appointed position (2013–current)
Executive Committee, Board Member, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) — Appointed position (2013–current)
Advisory Board Member, Boys & Girls Club of Oakland — Elected position (2016–current)
Executive Director/CEO, Neighborhood Housing Services of the East Bay (2001–2015)


UC Berkeley B.A., Political Science (current)


As a West Oakland resident, I know too well the personal toll exacted upon or families suffer as a result of decades of systemic government neglect and indifference.  We endure environmental and economic injustice, high unemployment, high crime, inadequate policing and know the pain of both displacement and disinvestment.  As hordes of our family members and friends left in search of safer neighborhoods and better schools my husband and I were determined to stay to make Oakland better.

I am dedicated to public service. For two decades I dedicated my life to developing affordable housing and advocating for the needs of low income residents. In 2012, with no prior political experience, I ran for office to bring my skills and experience as a non-profit affordable housing administrator to work on challenges confronting my community. While others made big promises of rapid change, I humbly committed to work build consensus across political ideologies, economic and ethnic groups in order to solve our most pressing problems: jobs, housing, safety and our environment. 

I am an effective leader with a strong track record of tangible results.  Since taking office in 2013, I have emerged as a unifying voice among progressives on the Oakland City Council - an effective bridge builder that balances the needs of the neighborhood with the need to grow the local economy to create jobs, housing and access to retail and services. I have lead Council's efforts to restore municipal services to our neighborhoods, foster equitable economic growth and improve Oakland’s standing in the region. We have made significant inroads. Earning the trust of my colleagues, in 2015 I was elected President of the Council, becoming the only first-term legislator and African American woman to hold this critical position.  That same year I was named San Francisco Business Times’ “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” and was also awarded a “Talented 25” leadership award by the SF Sun Reporter an honor I share with Attorney General Kamala Harris. 

The current city council is the most progressive that we’ve seen in decades. I led the budget that restored basic municipal services to pre-recession levels, increased funding for affordable housing and jobs programs, opened the long-anticipated West Oakland Youth Center, established the West Oakland Jobs Resource Center, raised over $3 Million to restore the historic deFremery Park, saved Head Start, led the effort to secure Measure Z - the $30M measure to fund community policing and restorative and launched the Compassionate Communities Initiative to end homelessness. The Council also created a Department of Race & Equity to confront historic inequality in the City’s practices; established a new Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety; completed four area specific plans to stimulate positive economic growth; voted to raise the minimum wage; and set out ambitious plans to make the city more safe, and prosperous, by authoring Measure HH – a soda tax to combat health disparities, Measure JJ – the Protect Oakland Renters Act, and Measure LL – establishing an Independent Civilian Police Commission. 

In a poll taken just a few months ago, a majority of Oakland voters believe that City Hall is moving in the right direction, on the right track. This is why I've decided to seek a 2nd term. I want to continue to provide the thoughtful, strategic leadership that builds bridges internally and partnerships externally so that Oakland realizes our vision of being the most diverse and inclusive place to live, work, worship and play.

Now is the time to sustain our gains.  Below is a list of legislation that I have led or co-authored: 

• Led the City Council effort to ban the transport of coal in Oakland

• Led the fight to create an impact fee on development which requires developers to dedicate funding for affordable housing, parks and libraries

• Pushed to increase tenant protections to stabilize rents and keep Oakland affordable and diverse

• Voted to place a major bond measure on the Oakland ballot to fund affordable housing and fix our local streets and sidewalks

• Led the effort to pass Measure Z a vital investment of $25 million to fund youth programs and community policing programs that have decreased crime and recidivism

• Led the fight to fund the West Oakland Job Resource center that is combatting chronic unemployment and working to get Oaklanders jobs at the new development at the former Oakland Army Base

• Funded training on implicit bias and excessive force to limit police misconduct and improve police-community relations

• Established the first inter-jurisdictional task force to end the commercial sexual exploitation of our youth 

• Stimulated a multimillion-dollar investment in rehabilitation and improvements at historic deFremery Park ending a 20-year pattern of systemic neglect

• Passed legislation that made illegal dumping a crime, doubled the number of crews dedicated to clearing the debris and established a rewards program to catch those who trash Oakland

• Eliminated furloughs for City staff and provided long overdue raises after an extensive period of cuts.

• Established the West Oakland Educators Roundtable and supported efforts to triple the number of youth that graduate high school on time ready for college or career

• Voted to increase funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund 

• Co-authored the Protect Oakland Renters Act (Measure JJ) - a ballot measure that will significantly increase voter and funded improvements to the Rental Adjustment Program.

• Increased funding for the Workforce Investment Board, Day Labor Centers and established a fund to train formerly incarcerated residents. 

• Attracted the first full service grocer to District 3 in over 10 years, with two more in the planning stages

• Increased funding for Head Start, Public Libraries and funded a pilot program with the Oakland Unified School District to reduce truancy

• Intervened to stop HUD from devastating cuts to critical housing supports for Oakland’s low-income families

• Led the effort to establish the Black Arts Movement and Business District along the historic 14th Street corridor 

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Sierra Club - S.F. Bay Chapter
  • Alameda County Democractic Party
  • Pastor Zachary E. Carey, True Vine Ministries

Organizations (11)

  • Firefighters, IAFF 55
  • Teamsters Joint Council Local 7
  • Building Trades Council of Alameda County
  • Transport Oakland
  • East Bay Times
  • East Bay Young Democrats
  • East Bay Women's Political Caucus
  • East Bay Small Business Council
  • Oakland Latino Task Force
  • MGO Democractic Club
  • East Bay Forward

Elected Officials (21)

  • Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno
  • President Pro Temp Larry Reid
  • Senator Loni Hancock
  • Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta
  • Assemblymember Tony Thurmond
  • OUSD Board President James Harris
  • Peralta Trustee Julina Bonilla
  • Peralta Trustee Meredith Brown
  • Peralta Trustee Dr. Bill Riley
  • Peralta Trustee Linda Handy
  • Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington
  • Councilmember Dan Kalb
  • Councilmember Abel Guillen
  • Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
  • Fmr. Assemblymember Nancy Skinner
  • BART Director Robert Rayburn
  • EBMUD Board Director Marguerite Young
  • BART Director Rebecca Saltzman
  • EBMUD Board Director William "Bill" Patterson
  • OUSD Director Roseanne Torres

Individuals (24)

  • Port Commissioner Ces Butner
  • Dr. Donna White Carey, Chief of Pediatrics, Highland Hospital
  • Pastor Gerald Agee, Past President, Pastors of Oakland
  • Dr. Michael Bell, Children's Hospital
  • Dr. Bert Lubin, CEO, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
  • John Burris, Esq,
  • Greg Hodge, fmr OUSD School Board member / District 3 Resident
  • Arnold Perkins, Director Alameda County Public Health Department (retired)
  • Ken Houston, Son of Oakland
  • Adamaka Ajaelo, Founder SelfEstem
  • Joey & Rose Lovett
  • Pastor Gregory Payton, Sr. Pastor, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Oakland
  • Pastor Curtis Flemming, Bay Community Fellowship / District 3 Resident
  • Pastor Joseph Simmons, Sr. Pastor, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church
  • Pastor Lawrence VanHook, Sr. Pastor, The Community Church / CEO Patton University
  • Brian & Relonda McGhee, McClymonds Alumni
  • Mr. Henry Linzie, McClymonds Alumni / Oakland Black Cowboys Association
  • Brigitte Cook, Constituency Services Director/Sigma Gamma Rho
  • Jazz Monique Hudson, District 3 Resident
  • Renia Webb, District 3 Resident
  • C.J. Hirschfield, CEO Fairyland / District 3 Resident
  • David Stein, Esq, Donahue Fitzgerald / District 3 Resident
  • Brian Stanley, CEO, Oakland Ed Fund / District 3 Resident
  • Dr. Jowel C. Laguerre, Chancellor, Peralta Community College District

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of Oakland (3)

Describe three major issues facing District 3, and touch briefly on how you would try to deal with them
Answer from Lynette Gibson McElhaney:

Priority #1 - Establish a Department of Violence Prevention

While Oakland honored a decrease in violent crime in 2015, homicides in District 3 were up 125%.  My 17 year old grandson was among those killed in the district, revealing that the city must do more to focus it's outreach efforts strategically.  The majority of the children killed by gunfire in Oakland lost their lives in District 3. Oakland is the 9th most violent city in the US.  This is the critical issue of our time.

Richmond CA saw more than a 70% decline in gun related homicide after establishing the Office of Neighborhood Safety.  Oakland voters have already provided the dedicated resources by approving Measure Z. The Administration now needs to create a department to strategically invest these critical resources, appointing a Chief of Violence Prevention that will report directly to the City Administrator and be responsible for coordinating Oakland's restorative justice, crime prevention and intervention efforts.

Priority #2 - Affordable Housing and Equitable Economic Development

District 3 is an area I affectionately call the Heart & Soul of the Town.  With it's robust transit inear structure, District 3 is home to downtown and the beautiful historic neighborhoods of West Oakland, Adams Point and North Oakland that are increasingly desirable to today's workers.  

Several projects that we've initiated in 2014 - 2016 that need to be nurtured to implementation.  

  • 3 affordable housing communities are under construction
  • 2 major office/hotel/retail projects that will result in several 100 permanent jobs and neighborhood serving retail and restaurants
  • Relocation of the industrial recycling centers from the neighborhoods to the former Oakland Army Base
  • Funding and program planning for the Black Arts Movement and Business District

Priority #3 - Full Implementation of the Compassionate Communities Inititative to decommission unpermitted tent communities and securing shelter and interim housing solutions for District 3's unsheltered residents.

Describe three major ways in which life is better in your district than it was 4 years ago.  
Answer from Lynette Gibson McElhaney:
  • We have significantly increased the resources dedicated to the residents of District 3.  From the $3M investment in the historic deFremery Park, to infrastructure improvements along key corridors and improved air quality at the Port of Oakland and adjacent former Oakland Army Base.  We have fought for and obtained a dedicated crime reduction team, a metro division of policing for downtown/Jack London Square and have been able to direct additional resources to non-profits who are working employment, youth development and anti-violence initiatives.
  • We opened the first full-service grocery store and pharmacy in over 10 years - The opening of Sprouts and CVS was a top priority for the mostly elderly residents that reside in District 3. I am extremely proud of our efforts to secure these two retailers along with other neighborhood serving retail and restaurants including Sleep Train, Chipotle and Starbucks.  This economic stimulus not only brings in much-needed revenue to the City of Oakland, it provides good food options in walking distance to over 5000 residents and workers.
  • We replaced Jackson Street - For nearly 30 years Jackson street was considered among the worst streets in the Bay Area, costing Oakland residents and workers thousands of dollars in auto and bike damage repairs, injuries and fatalities.  In addition to the major repair on Jackson Street, Embarcadero Street in Jack London has seen considerable improvements and we worked to enhance the underpass between Old Oakland and Jack London Square to improve sanitation and safety.
Which of these local Oakland ballot measures do you think is the most critical one; why do you choose that one?  a) Tax on distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, b) Just Cause Ordinance amendment, c) infrastructure bond/affordable housing, d) citizen police commission  
Answer from Lynette Gibson McElhaney:

I am honored to have co-authored Measure JJ - the Protect Oakland Renters Act 2016 and Measure LL - Independent Citizen Police Oversight Commission and to have voted to pass both Measure HH - Sugar-sweetened beverage tax and Meausre KK - the Infrastructure Bond.  While each of these measures is critically important I believe Measure LL is the most critical measure before the people this year.  

If passed, Measure LL promises to create a more just and trustworthy means to address issues of police misconduct.  In addition to the ability to impose corrective actions on officers and executive leadership, Commissioners will provide guidance on policy including recruitment, hiring and promotions.

Candidate Contact Info

Assistant Librarian
10,108 votes (43.4%)
Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My Choices'.
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Thank candidate for sharing their information on Voter’s Edge.

My Top 3 Priorities

  • FIGHT TO END THE HOUSING CRISIS - Implement Real Renter Protections - Permanently house our homeless - Create permanently affordable units - Increase access to home ownership
  • FOSTER PEACEFUL, EMPOWERED COMMUNITIES - Address the root causes of crime to decrease the need for policing - Revive partnership between City Hall & our youth service providers - Strengthen citizens’ police accountability measures
  • CREATE COMMUNITY-BASED SOLUTIONS - Build neighborhood assemblies - Schedule D3 community access hours - Create civic education initiatives to make City Hall accessible to all



Profession:Assistant Librarian
Assistant Librarian/Volunteer Coordinator, Contra Costa County Library (2014–current)
Commissioner, Oversight and Planning Committe, Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, City of Oakland — Appointed position (2016–current)
Organizing Founder/Treasurer, State of Black Oakland, A People's Assembly — Appointed position (2014–current)
Poll Inspector, Alameda County Registrar of Voters — Appointed position (2012–2012)
Instructor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University (2008–2010)
Government & Inter-Agency Liaison/Researcher, United Nations Development Programme-Drylands Development Centre (2007–2008)
Environmental Education & Conservation Youth Crew Leader, Marin Conservation Corps (2007–2007)
Assembly Member, Graduate and Professional Student Association, Cornell University — Appointed position (2007–2007)
President, Anthropology Graduate Student Association, Cornell University Department of Anthropology — Elected position (2003–2004)
K-2nd Grade Special Education Classroom Teacher, West Contra Costa Unified School District (2000–2001)


Cornell University ABD, Cultural Anthropology-Humanitarianism, East Africa (2014)
Cornell University Masters of Arts, Cultural Anthropology- Non-Govenrmental Organizations, East Africa (2005)
San Francisco State University Bachelors of Art, Cultural Anthropology & African American Studies (2000)


Noni Session has a vision for District 3. This vision charts a path for the community that will keep historic families in their homes, insure "development without displacement", keep residents healthy and safe, and facilitate access to living wage jobs for Oaklanders. As a home-grown native, she understands the importance of not only protecting diverse communities, but also the environment and the city's rich culture. Noni will work to change the current political landscape for community benefit rather than the insatiable, big money interests that are currently controlling local government.  

Prior to her candidacy in the current election cycle Noni Session, spent the last decade fighting to improve the lives of people of color in the Bay Area. Her diligence in public service led to a strong track record as an educator and advocate. This long record of success and advocacy, along with her dedication to the community, has led to her to pursue a seat in city council where she will impart her more unified vision of Oakland that focuses on bold and creative steps necessary to save District 3 and maintain the vibrant culture.  

Session is an Oakland native maintaining deep roots in District 3, West Oakland, with a lineage spanning three generations. Session’s grandparents journeyed from Louisiana to the booming West Oakland, First Transcontinental Railroad terminus during the "Great Migration" in the 20th century.  During this time many African American families traveled westward to escape the racially oppressive conditions of Southern United States. Session's grandfather worked as a porter which was a highly sought after position by in Oakland due to reasonable pay and union support that was otherwise not available to African American workers. After living in the Cypress Village housing project, the Session family was able to purchase a home in the neighborhood which Session currently resides today.  Through the many incarnations of West Oakland, Session's family was able to maintain strong roots and pride in their home that was once considered the Harlem of the West.   

An ardent student, Session attended District 3 public schools, including McClymonds High School in West Oakland. Despite the fact that Session was a single mother at eighteen, she was able to propel herself forward with outstanding scholarship to attend San Francisco State University, where she graduated cum laude in Cultural Anthropology and African American Studies. Directly after concluding her studies at San Francisco State University, Session looked to further her commitment to service in the community specifically in the field of special education for the Title I elementary school, Harbor Way Academy in Richmond, California. At Harbor Way Academy, Session was personally affected by low-income students and families who were being siphoned through the school to prison pipeline. In her work as a teacher, Session was an advocate for students that were given little to no opportunity. Session created a possibility for these children to thrive as they transitioned from special education to mainstream education.  

Session's erudition led her further down an academic path to Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 2001 to pursue her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology.  During this time Session and her young daughter relocated to Nairobi as a Fulbright-Hays Research Fellow. Session's dissertation research was in Bureaucratic Organizations & Humanitarianism which led her to work with the United Nations Development Programme as a government liason as well as with several locally run NGOs. Her work as an ethnographer created the possibility to question the conditions in which people of color existed both globally and back in her home of West Oakland.  

Continuing her work as an active member of the community in District 3, Session's utmost priority is to maintain a level of self-determination in communities that have been historically disenfranchised, displaced and underserved. As a Founding Organizer for State of Black Oakland (SOBO), Session currently serves as treasurer for the organization. Session has participated in other such groups by utilizing her skills as a Grant Writer and Co-organizer for Afrocentric Oakland, an organization that nurtures a sense of community and culture by supporting health and faith-based services in the African American community locally.   

From the District 3 City Council seat Noni D. Session will take Oakland in a new direction that will protect workers, families, and seniors that have been facing displacement due to the housing crisis in the Bay Area. As a native Oaklander, she understands the importance of preserving communities as well as protecting the environment in which these citizens reside. Session is a strong advocate for environmental justice in lowincome neighborhoods. Noni Session will change the political landscape of Oakland for hard working families rather than big money interests with transparency, unity, and equity.  

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Green Party of Alameda County
  • SEIU Local 1021
  • East Bay Express

Organizations (9)

  • Alameda Labor Council
  • Oakland Justice Coalition
  • NUHW National Union of Healthcare Workers
  • ACCE Action
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • Oakland Post News Group
  • Oakland Rising Action
  • McClymonds Alumni Action Committee
  • John George Democratic Club

Elected Officials (2)

  • Eugene "Gus" Newport, Fmr Mayor of Berkeley
  • Nancy Nadel, fmr Oakland City Council Member, Dist. 3

Individuals (8)

  • Nanci Armstrong-Temple, Candidate, Berkeley City Council, Dist. 2
  • Dan Siegel, Attorney at Law, Siegel & Yee
  • Adrionna Fike, Co-Owner, Mandela Foods Cooperative
  • Darice Jones, Exec. Director, Wardrobe for Opportunity
  • Debra Avery, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church
  • Dr. Siri Brown, Dean of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Merritt College
  • Pamela Drake, Blogger, Drake talk
  • Carroll Fife, Oakland Alliance

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of Oakland (3)

Describe three major issues facing District 3, and touch briefly on how you would try to deal with them
Answer from Noni D. Session:

End Oakland’s housing crisis ● Level the rental playing field through adjusting the current definition of “affordable” ● Staunch the outflow of Oakland residents through vigorous implementation and enforcement of real renter protections ● Prioritize models for funding that permanently re-house Oakland’s rising homeless population

Expand economic opportunity ● Fully Fund, re-open, and prioritize neighborhood employment centers ● Direct city and grant funds toward local projects and that create community-based economic development like worker-owned co-ops ● Support cooperative and local economics model ● Cultivate healthy sustainable jobs fund programs that make entry points to small business ownership simple

Foster Empowered communities ● Strengthen citizens’ police accountability measures ● Create policy to shift recruitment, training, and residency requirements for new officers toward a community policing model ● Ensure that afterschool and youth summer programs are fully-funded citywide 

Describe three major ways in which life is better in your district than it was 4 years ago.  
Answer from Noni D. Session:

I have been intensely involved in forms of social activism directed at creating and sustaining non-capital oriented communities in Oakland. For the last four years I have been a co –organizer with Cowrie Village. This organization hosts bartering events in order to create non cash skills and goods sharing networks among Black Oaklanders. I have also been a Co-organizer of Afrocentric Oakland. Each year we coordinate and host the Pan-African Family reunion: an all-day family and cultural event whose goal is to use public space to create and sustain social networks among African diasporic peoples living in Oakland and the greater Bay Area. For the last two years I have been a coorganizer with SOBO (State of Black Oakland) a united front coalition through which we are currently building a people’s platform to advance self-determination for African American people in Oakland. 

Which of these local Oakland ballot measures do you think is the most critical one; why do you choose that one?  a) Tax on distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, b) Just Cause Ordinance amendment, c) infrastructure bond/affordable housing, d) citizen police commission  
Answer from Noni D. Session:

Citizen's Police Comission:

Like our community as a whole the nature of the citizen-police officer experience in Oakland diverges sharply. In more affluent and empowered of our citizens they can expect protection and as much responsiveness and current city capacity will allow. For the less empowered citizen relations with law enforcement are marked by fear, violation, uncertainty, and too often, personal peril. As we vigorously apply the upcoming citizen police board, I will also work to implement community policing models through such reforms as shifting recruitment models, education requirements, and residency incentives. Your police office should also be your neighbor. For me, restorative justice would also mean that the aforementioned changes were determined through a community based process. Through some of these changes on the model of policing intend to achieve a drastic reduction in police misconduct in oakland 

Videos (4)

— October 11, 2016 Noni Session for City Council Committee

Noni Session's personal and professional trajectory, why she is running and her vision for participatory governance in Oakland and District 3

— October 11, 2016 Noni Session for City Council Campaign

Noni's vision for Community Policing involves human rights training, local recruitment, and incentivising living locally.

— November 1, 2016 Noni Session for City Council Campaign

District 3 deserves a representative who seeks out the input and needs of the constituency

— October 11, 2016 Interview conducted by, Zinnie

Noni's Personal History and Vision for Oakland

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