This is Michael McDaniel Jr, FIA Political Director, here with an Oakland political update. The District 5 Oakland school board election is the only one on the ballot this year, and it’s a big one. There are two certified candidates (yes, after some confusion the election is still on): Jorge Lerma and Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez. I and other FIA parent leaders have met with them to better understand their priorities and what their plans are to raise the academic achievement data for Black and Brown students. Big thanks to both candidates for their interest in serving the students and families of Oakland.
Ms. Ritzie-Hernandez is a newcomer to the Oakland political scene. She shared that her family’s immigration story roots her worldview. She attended Oakland public schools starting in middle school and graduated from Holy Names University. She has been a resident of the Fruitvale for the past 20 years and is a member of the Alameda County Spanish Language Council, and also worked at the now-defunct Bay Area PLAN (Parent Leadership Action Network) with former District 4 school board candidate Pecolia Manigo. She also worked as a coordinator for the Bay Area Coalition for Education Justice and as a Bilingual Instructor at Alameda County’s Registrar of Voters Office. On her website, she writes: “I am committed to ensuring that no student has to endure the challenges I faced due to inequitable resource distribution.” Ms. Ritzie-Hernandez received an early endorsement from the OEA (Oakland Educators Association). Here’s a list of endorsements from Ms. Ritzie-Hernandez’s website.
Mr. Lerma grew up in Oakland attending Oakland public schools and like Ms. Ritzie-Hernandez is also a child of immigrants. Mr. Lerma is an educator with over 34 years in education, a former OUSD teacher and principal who has also founded the Fruitvale’s first bilingual preschool, Centro Infantíl de la Raza. Mr. Lerma previously ran for this seat in 2020. Mr. Lerma leads the Latino Education Network, Educational Coalition for Hispanics in Oakland, and is the chair of the Oakland Children’s Commission. Mr. Lerma shared with us that he thinks the most important thing is to respect the voice and choice of families before anything else, and that parents should be able to make the best decision for their children when it comes to choosing a school. Mr. Lerma was recently endorsed by The East Bay Times. Here’s a list of endorsements from Mr. Lerma’s website.
District 5 residents have an important decision to make
Both candidates shared they want to improve the district for the better and are committed to working hard. It’s up to the voters to get informed and select the candidate who will best serve students and families. An important way to get informed is to attend FIA’s candidate forum next week on Thursday, September 28 at Lazear Charter Academy, starting at 6:30 pm. There are a number of charter schools in District 5 that are up for renewal during the next school board member’s tenure and they will have a lot of power with the board currently deadlocked.