Public Comment

Wisdom of the Locals

Jovanka Beckles
Sunday September 02, 2018 - 01:32:00 PM

Every so often a writer produces a phrase that vividly encapsulates the political spirit of the times.

Becky O’Malley, in this space, did this for me when she coined the term “wisdom of the locals,” saying that this is what we need instead of endorsements from outside famous politicians. She named what is now flooding into my race for Assembly District 15.

I’m astonished and humbled. I am the grateful beneficiary of the wisdom of the locals.

Every day I seem to receive another endorsement from local activists, politicians and organizations brimming with expertise and knowledge of our dynamic East Bay and state. These people, together, represent centuries of experience and they know a huge amount about what we need to rectify the abiding problems we’re facing, from climate degradation, to a dysfunctional justice system, to deficient charter schools set up for profit not for children.

Only this week, when I thought there could be no more, more came. I welcome the help of the wise - maybe that’s why they keep coming! 

This week the California Latino Legislative Caucus joined the California Black Legislative Caucus to endorse me, then former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean (years of wisdom). Two days ago I met with a group of East Bay Jewish supporters of our people-driven campaign to discuss how our values and desires to fight discrimination align. I am so grateful to learn and to be heard. On Sunday I had the honor to address the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, the biggest Democratic club in the East Bay. That evening I was delighted to hear they had endorsed me with more than 70% of the vote. 

These latest endorsements add to a list that is almost beyond imagination to me. Seven environmental groups including the Sierra Club (wisdom for survival); 20 labor unions, including nurses and teachers (picket lines are in my blood, because I’m in a union myself: the wisdom of the workers); truly progressive organizations including the Richmond Progressive Alliance (where I developed my political awareness), the Democratic Socialists of America (a rising national chorus of people before profit!); Our Revolution (indefatigable Bernie as a hero, Sister Nina as an inspiration, come hug me again, please!); my fellow elected officials and candidates in the primary Dan Kalb, Judy Appel, Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Andy Katz, Owen Poindexter, Cheryl Sudduth and Raquella Thaman; Oakland City Council Member Rebecca Kaplan; my friends Actor Danny Glover and Gus Newport. And many more! The wells of wisdom are deep, and from them our world needs refreshing. 

I’ve been an elected official in Richmond for two terms, and served on city commissions before that. I’ve had to develop the fortitude and patience to stand up, to the pressures of Big Money, against personal attacks, and for people who need help. California’s state budget is more than $250 billion, and the state regulates conditions for many, varied, and huge economic interests. That’s why politics gets vicious and people can be mean. The moneyed forces seek profits; but we put people first. 

What touches me about the wisdom coming my way is not that it’s Delphic - from the top down or from some established, calcified system of lobbyists, political experts or party hacks. The wisdom is bubbling up from the grassroots and from all around. 

My campaign is run almost completely by volunteers. We really are corporate free; the vast preponderance of our limited funds come from right here in the East Bay; and while working people and their unions rally with me, there isn’t any Big Money powering this campaign. We really are corporate free, not pretend-corporate free; we are part of a movement sweeping parts of the country, not a manufactured campaign; we really do put people first, not just try to convince them of our good intentions. 

Solving and managing the challenges that face us will take the wisdom of all of us, and a lot of love. I thank these generous activists who go to meetings all the time and care, care, care for our communities as they take action. Their wisdom comes with a lot of warmth. I am honored.