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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of OaklandCandidate for City Council, District 5

Photo of Zoe Lopez-Meraz

Zoe Lopez-Meraz

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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Utilize surplus of empty housing inventory to house homeless population and create legacy of home ownership in Oakland.
  • Commit to and enact aggressive policy to combat climate change, create a culture of sustainability, and remediate Oakland.
  • Balance the city budget to fund public schools, social services, restorative justice programs, and public health.

Experience

Education

University of Nevada B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2015)

Biography

Zoe grew up being displaced across North America. Born in Chula Vista, California, she lived back and forth between the San Diego area and Tijuana, Mexico until the age of six. She has since lived in Brooklyn, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, and Oakland. For the last 5 years, Zoe has been able to experience secure housing and become an active member of her community. Passionate about accessible healthcare and housing, she splits her volunteer time between the Berkeley Free Clinic to provide free basic healthcare to the East Bay, as well as building tiny homes and doing homeless outreach through a network of collectives and on her own. She received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology where her thesis was on protein regulation. She is a fitness enthusiast, mindfulness advocate, and indigenous practices proponent. Zoe has worked in a variety of disciplines and has the mind needed to think at a systems level and tackle the many issues Oakland is facing in impactful, sustainable ways. She is action oriented, accountable, and honest. 

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California and Elect Justice CA (2)

Does your office have any plans to include currently or formerly incarcerated people in your decision-making process as it relates to criminal justice issues? What would that look like?
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

Absolutely. I am inspired by policy like the Good Jobs Policy that addresses the needs of the formerly incarcerated in employment considerations. I understand the revolving door of crime perpetuated by systemic racism and will fight to allow for a better future for those caught in this unjust system. Non-violent offenses should be expunged, especially as it relates to drug and sex work citations. The City of Oakland has a high demand for homeless services staff. Many formerly incarcerated have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness. Let's give these people jobs that they are familiar with and help address an overdue backlog of services due to the city. 

With 8,000 people eligible for release from CA prisons to help stem the transmission of COVID-19, how, if at all, would your office aid these Californians and their families in navigating reentry?
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

In addition to filling much needed social services mentioned previously, we need to dedicate funding for jobs training in renewable energy research and development and land remediation to train a workforce ready to move Oakland to a green future. This funding can come from taxing tech giants, corporate manufacturers, and commercial property owners at their fair rates. These trainings and employment opportunites need to be at a living wage with benefits. We have plenty of abandoned dormitory housing in the Bay Area to provide temporary transitional housing as families get on their feet and Oakland works toward putting people in all the empty housing we have. As we move to defund OPD and invest in public health services, we can provide pilot program training opportunites in these communities to ramp up housing and health care together. 

Questions from LWV Oakland (4)

Concerns about the transparency of government and the ease of public access to information and meetings have increased since the COVID crisis. What would you suggest during the COVID emergency and afterwards to make the City Council's deliberations more transparent and more conducive to public participation?
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

I am so glad this is a question here. I have attended multiple city council meetings and participated in public comment where we all feel unheard and unseen. There should be a requirement for all council members to keep their video on for the duration of the meetings for accountability. There also needs to be published responses from council members within a week from each meeting that they heard and are addressing the requests of the public. 

Too often, ballot measures and budgetary proposals are introduced at the last minute. Would you be receptive to processes that would ensure earlier public notice, requirements of full discussions in committees, and more involvement of stakeholders before measures are presented to the Council?
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

We need to establish a 30 day period for public comment. This does not include any proposals that affect the environment, where a full impact statement and consultation with indigenous peoples' will be required in addition. We cannot call ourselves an equity caucus when items are pushed undemocraticaly late at night while citizens try to sleep before waking to a job that doesn't even keep them housed. Elected officials need to remember they are servants of the people. 

  Oakland has recently authorized a Task Force on Reimagining Public Safety which will work to present its proposals in time to allow for their incorporation into the budget deliberations for 2021-23. What ideas or models from other jurisdictions would you bring to that discussion?   And how do these models address  goals that reflect diversity, equity and inclusion?  
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

Public safety is ensured when basic needs are met. Until people are paid a living wage with benefits, have stable job opportunites, funded public schools, appropriate social services, and green public spaces to recreate safely and healthily, we have no reason to expect any difference in public safety. Any models that continue to assign law enforcement toward this goal are set up to fail. 

  Oakland's Budget Advisory Commission has advised the city to explore ways to increase revenues. Recently, a blue ribbon commission to explore revisions to Oakland business tax rules has been created. What ideas will you bring about raising revenue in Oakland?  
Answer from Zoe Lopez-Meraz:

I am firm in my stance that we are missing out on millions by not responsibly taxing tech giants, corporate manufacturers like Amazon, and commercial property owners. Jeff Bezoz made $50 billion since COVID-19 started... this is an inexcusable accumulation of wealth that needs to be tackled head on and aggressively. 

Who gave money to this candidate?

To see who is funding campaigns in Oakland, visit Open Disclosure Oakland.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Zoe's upbringing relied on social services. Her mother was able to supplement their meals with WIC vouchers, though at that time fresh produce was not an option, so meals were often unbalanced. Being very low income also allowed Zoe to take advanced placement exams in high school for free, saving her over $300 on exams that counted toward college credits. While she is grateful for these safety nets, she knows tax payer money would be better used if everyone was paid a living wage in the first place. So much money is spent annually on keeping people oppressed, impovered, and incarcerated. She understands it is more fiscally responsible and sustainable to pay a universal basic income, provide universal health care, and defund the carceral state. 

Zoe is a community member, always reminding the public that the movement toward freedom and justice requires us all to be active. She is anti-establishment, acknowledging the political system is designed to keep poor people of color out of power and privilege. Her demands are simple: housing, healthcare, and a green future for all. She will fight for tenant and home owner rights while prohibiting the irresponsible hoarding practices of corporate, elite real estate speculators. She will demand accountability from elected officials to deliver promises to consitutents in a timely, accessible manner. 

Candidate Contact Info

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