The race for San Leandro City Council District 5 features three middle-age women with a lot of enthusiasm for the community and city politics. Mia Ousley, the co-founder of the Coalition to Save San Leandro Hospital, will be facing San Leandro School Board trustee Corina Lopez and Durant Avenue Task Force co-leader Leah Hall. They will be elected through ranked choice voting. In San Leandro, all voters are able to vote for all City Council and School Board seats.
These are my recommendations for Council District 5:
First Choice: Mia Ousley
Second Choice: Corina Lopez
Third Choice: Leah Hall
Mia Ousley is such a great City Council candidate that I would endorse her and voter for her first, even if she wasn’t my friend. I have known her for many years now and we became friends after she joined the San Leandro Community Action Network (SLCAN), a local organization of progressive activists trying to make San Leandro a more equitable city. Mia spearheaded SLCAN’s efforts to keep San Leandro Hospital’s emergency room open, and went on to co-found the Coalition to Save San Leandro Hospital. While the feeling back then was that there was little we could do to keep the hospital open, Mia understood that you can’t win if you don’t fight. Her organizing and lobbying efforts were finally successful and she’s dedicated to make sure that the emergency room stays open and saving lives.
I have yet to see either of Mia’s opponent show up for a City Council meeting, much less speak out at one. Mia, however, regularly attends meetings and is therefore up to date about how the Council functions and what issues it’s dealing with. She also makes her positions known, with well crafted an intelligent arguments on issues as diverse as medical marijuana dispensaries, red light cameras, the housing plan, the oversight of surveillance data and the armored vehicle the SLPD wants to get. Mia also helped spearhead the urban farming ordinance which was finally passed last year. She walks her talk, and she is not afraid to make her views known.
In addition to having solid progressive values, Mia has the intelligence and education to make her succeed as a Council member. She has a BA in Economics and works as a financial analyst. She can read and understand budgets and contribute to create a long-term strategy to assure the city’s financial stability. She is a researcher by nature, and already makes it a point to both read background materials on issues before the City Council, and research them on her own. She listens and pays attention, and is responsive to the community. As a leader in the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association and the editor of its newsletter, she has often acted a liaison between the community and the authorities.
Mia and her family have made San Leandro their home for the last 17 years and they’re here to stay. Mia’s youngest daughter attends Roosevelt Elementary, while her oldest son bought a house in San Leandro after he married.
There is one specific quality about Mia that may not belong in an endorsement for an office, but that I want to acknowledge. She is what we call in Spanish a pan de Dios, perhaps best translated as “the salt of the earth”. She is not Christian, and yet she is the most Christian person I know. She buys food for the hungry, gives clothing to the poor and, yes, visits young people in prison to offer them support. She takes in homeless young people into her home, giving them a place to live and helping them find jobs so they can straighten up their lives. If you ever need a favor, Mia will not say no. She is kindness personified.
Corina Lopez is my second choice because she is intelligent and often has the right principles. She is currently on the San Leandro School Board, after running unopposed in 2012, so she just some experience in a legislative body. Corina also serves in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee with me and I consider her a friend. However, since getting the Police Union’s endorsement, Corina has been toeing the police line and she is likely to be a rubber stamp vote for the Police Chief. At the last candidate forum, Corina objected to calling the Bearcat armored personnel carrier that the SLPD wants to acquire an “armored personnel carrier” and she said she’d vote in favor of acquiring it based alone on what the City Manager told her. Corina did not return the candidate questionnaire, which might suggest that she did not want to commit herself to any particular policy. I’m recommending her for a second choice vote, however, because she is at least sane.
I’m placing Leah Hall as my third choice, only because there are three candidates. If there were more, I wouldn’t even list her. I have known Leah for four years, I have had many interactions with her, and I find her to be very difficult to communicate with, much less work with. Her views seem to be random, and they do not follow any ideological principles as far as I can tell. For example, she supports the legalization of marijuana but is against medical marijuana dispensaries. She is very insular in her concerns, and she is extremely passive aggressive in the way she communicates with people. I think it’d be a disaster to have her in the City Council, though it might be perversely fun to watch. Leah did not return the candidate questionnaire.