Mayoral candidate: Nancy Sidebotham

on May 21, 2014

Tax specialist Nancy Sidebotham, 69, said she’s run for the Oakland City Council six times. She’s never won a seat. But, to her mind, she’s never lost either.

“There’s not too many candidates that lose, and stay involved,” said Sidebotham, who’s lived in Oakland for more than 50 years, and served on the Community Policing Advisory Board, Neighborhood Watch and Shop Oakland boards, among other organizations. “I continue to stay involved and continue to work for my community.”

The East Oakland resident said she’s running for mayor because she’s tired of the cronyism she sees on the city council. “Machine politics runs this city,” said the professional tax preparer.

Public safety is just a piece of the puzzle. “You really have to look at the overall quality of life,” she said. Boosting quality of life in Oakland all starts with economic development. More than anything, the city needs jobs, Sidebotham said. “You have to start changing laws, and inviting companies to want to be here.”  She added that the city needs to offer business tax breaks to attract employers.

If the city brings in jobs, there will, in turn, be more hope for Oakland’s schoolchildren. “Most of our schools are giant babysitting institutions,” she said. The school system needs to stop worrying about offending people and come up with a stringent discipline policy, she added. “When kids act up in the charter schools, they’re kicked out and sent to OUSD, and they are disrupting the classroom.”

The city is currently investing in all the wrong places, including public housing, Sidebotham said. “Oakland is the dumping ground for Alameda County for all public housing,” she said. And the problem with Oakland providing much of the county’s public housing, Sidebotham says, is that Oakland can’t provide jobs for all of the people it houses.

“You need to spread things out so everybody takes responsibility for what’s in this county,” she said.  Neither the mayor’s office nor OPD immediately responded to requests for comment on her critiques.

Oakland’s sports teams historically have been a key element of economic development. Sidebotham says the city should show genuine interest in its teams, but not at the expense of the community. “We all want [the A’s] to stay, but you don’t devastate a whole area and take out what businesses we still have in Oakland and say you’re going to build all this new housing,” she said. “Oakland doesn’t need any more housing.”

As for the controversial Domain Awareness Center, Sidebotham said it’s just a sign of the times. “That’s electronics,” she said, pulling out her flip cell phone, pretending to take photos. While she doesn’t necessarily support the DAC, she said she is resigned to the fact that surveillance is now a part of daily life, adding, “We’re not going to have any privacy.”

Sidebotham said her “major” campaign donors will be far and few between. “My endorsers are from the community,” she wrote in an email to Oakland North. She said she hopes to represent the people who are typically “used” by politicians and then forgotten when the race is over.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: oaklandnorthstaff@gmail.com.

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