Daniel Chesmore, Candidate for East Bay Regional Park District Board Ward 4
Learn more abut Daniel Chesmore at https://www.facebook.com/Daniel4EastBayRegionalParks/. Ward 4 includes Alameda, a portion of Oakland, part of Hayward, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo.
1 – What is your opinion of the current East Bay Parks administration and what changes do you propose to make from the Board?
I believe that there is room for tremendous improvement as I can assert confidently that I can undoubtedly diverge from the status quo of this Board in key areas for improvement. I believe that the Parks Board should do more to address systems of inequality within the allocation of resources for the Parks District. I have documented graffiti, dismal facilities, and blight in MLK Shoreline Regional Park, and I believe that parks in East Oakland should be just as resourced as parks in the more affluent areas under the jurisdiction of the East Bay Regional Park District. I am the only East Oakland resident, and as a resident in the Flatlands, I understand firsthand what it will take to uplift the most impoverished communities in Ward 4. I believe that the Parks must play an expanded role in public outreach to advance the lives of our community members, which has not been a priority in the Parks District. Similarly, we must be more vocal as a board on the issues surrounding fire prevention and more specifically, advocating on behalf of the removal of the Eucalyptus trees in the Oakland hills. As the only Oakland flatlands resident, I know firsthand that we are at risk for another devastating fire like what happened in 1991 during the Oakland Hills fire. We not only lost $1.5 billion but 25 lives, and as Senior Financial Analyst at Planned Parenthood, I can never apply any financial ratio or metric to quantify those 25 lives we lost.
2 – What’s your opinion about the militarization of the East Bay Parks police and what do you think the Board should do about it?
As a supporter and participant in the Black Lives Matter movement, I do not support the militarization of the East Bay Parks police. Moreover, I would make every effort to develop effective training, checks and balances such as Oakland Police Department’s use of body cameras on all officers, as well as provide all of our officers paid opportunities for professional development in combatting social inequalities, institutionalized racism, implicit bias, and sensitivity training. I believe that security has been an issue, most notoriously in Ward 4’s Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Regional Park. Less than one year ago in December 2015, the body of Omar Gomez-Saldana was discovered in Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline Regional Park. My community faces multiple issues in public health, education, housing, and violence, and I believe that our Parks District can uplift lives and tackle these issues. However, bodies being discovered in our parks are major issues, which also deter our patrons from visiting our parks. We only have one regional park in Oakland, and Ward 4 has the most vulnerable portions of Oakland. This board has not done nearly enough to commemorate this tragedy let alone prevent subsequent acts as shortly after the discovery of Omar Gomez-Saldana’s body, another body of Eric Dwayne Smith was discovered in the same park. I believe we can expand security without compromising the civil rights of our patrons, and I have every intention to solve this issue as Ward 4 Board Member.
Sources: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/12/10/teen-arrested-on-suspicion-of-murder-of-man- found-dead-on-east-bay-trail/
3 – How do you think East Bay Parks police should handle protests?
The East Bay Parks comprise public lands, meaning that the people should have every right to organize and protest in our parks so long as the Parks’ mission on “perpetual preservation” of our land is not compromised. If protesters are gathering at one of our parks non-violently with no intention of committing horrific acts, then the East Bay Parks police should NOT intervene with any use of force.
4 – The East Bay Regional Parks District utilizes a whole array of surveillance technology. What do you think the proper role of the Board should be in regulating the acquisition and use of such technology and what specific policies do you want to see in place to safeguard the privacy of visitors?
I think the best approach to surveillance technology is our best resource, our human resources through our outstanding staff. I do not believe that the solution to surveillance is installing tedious and intrusive cameras on every corner of our 120,000 acres of parks lands. As a Senior Financial Analyst at Planned Parenthood Northern California, I can personally reiterate that the erroneous notion of inputting cameras throughout all of our lands is not only inefficient fiscally, but the personnel requirements necessary to monitor such intrusive surveillance is unfathomable and unrealistic. The best approach is to trust in our staff and expand their resources, so that they can patrol our trails alongside our patrons. I would develop policy to create a dynamic force of parks staff, who will alternate across each of our 65 parks posing as regular patrons to monitor and document any control findings or high-risk and vulnerable areas for crime to take place. As an Analyst, I want to collect data on the specific locations where crimes take place in order to analyze crime trends to effectively develop policy to combat our most vulnerable areas.
5 – What action has the Board taken in the last 4 years that you disagreed with?
The Parks Board passed a motion to explicitly adopt federal policy on controlled substances. Though I do not condone drug use in our parks, I believe that how we have treated drug abuse in our country has been dismal. We must work towards mass rehabilitation rather than mass incarceration. While studying Sociology at UC Berkeley, I wrote a thesis on drug use and mass incarceration, so this issue is a strong specialty of mine. I believe the Parks Board should have taken a different approach and rather than adopting and condoning federal drug policy, which is antiquated as Senator Bernie Sanders has eloquently addressed on the issue of cannabis, the Parks District should have developed a progressive policy to educate and decriminalize drug users found in our parks. I want to work with non-profit organizations such as Asian Health Services to provide and refer free services to any drug user found in our Parks District, and I believe that this model of drug abuse treatment could serve as a larger model.
6 – Can you describe an instance in which you have shown moral courage, either as a board member or in a professional situation?
I was fired from one of my first jobs for sticking up against corruption and the abuse of public funds, which is exactly what inspired me to pursue a career in finance. While working at a charter school in Oakland, I learned that our executive director not only had conflicts of interest, but also personally profited from public funds acquired through his ownership of the facility for the school’s lease. I coordinated parents and teachers to mobilize against the ineptitude and immoral judgment of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director, and I was subsequently terminated from my employment. The termination of employment was a blessing because I proved to myself that I am willing to sacrifice my career in order to maintain my personal ethical and moral code.
7- Have you received financial support from anyone that had business with East Bay Parks, including unions? Do you or your campaign have a financial relationship with any member of the ACDCC?
As a pro-union advocate, there is nothing more dear to me than to represent the struggles of the working class. I have family and friends that are members of LIUNA Local 304, though I did not get financial support from unions, I will continue to fight for better living wages and working conditions as as I am a strong supporter of ensuring our Parks’ employees are paid appropriately in regards to the increasing cost annual cost of living and inflation. I have fought for labor rights, and I support labor unions. I will continue to solidify the Democratic Party and will continue to help strengthen the ties of the democratic party at a local level and national level. I have no ties to any special interest in ACDCC or special business, as the first openly gay millennial running for East Bay Regional Parks, my heart is set to continue making a difference in climate change in the local level and fighting inequity in the disparate allocation of resources in the Parks District.
8 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
I am running as a community member, who wants to represent the people and advance our communities through our parks. I admire and support Bernie’s central message, and I am grateful that he pushed the democratic platform to become more progressive on issues such as climate change. I intend to lead the fight locally in our parks to ensure an active year over year surplus in native trees as we must actively combat climate change while ensuring the perpetual preservation of the parks.