Incumbent Beaten by Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing Activist for City Council Position

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Moms 4 Housing director Carroll Fife successfully won the District Three’s votes unseating two-term City Council incumbent Lynette Gibson McElhaney. The five council seats, the most challenging positions to attain in the S.F. elections, is for a division that covers Lake Merritt, Jack London, West Oakland, Uptown, Downtown, Port of Oakland, and Pill Hill. 

An enormous contribution to Fife’s glorious triumph is her proposal to take over a home in West Oakland to prioritize the city’s housing problem for homeless mothers and their offspring. This action of hers shone through international news reports and outlets.

The main goals of Fife’s campaign are “housing is a human right,” including the reconstruction of public safety. These objectives align with Oaklanders’ future wishes, hoping to address the police violence concerns and increasing homelessness plight. Thus, Fife guaranteed her spot in the city council with her past achievements and plans for Oakland’s future. 

Oakland City Mayor Libby Schaaf endorsed McElhaney as an electoral candidate for the position. However, due to conflicting interests, Fife’s victory might pose a threat against Schaaf’s plan. In recent events, Schaff urged affordable development and additional police force, while Fife pushed on a change from traditional policing and more affordable housing for low- to no-income citizens. 

On Sunday, Fife received about 49% of official votes, while McElhaney acquired 30% of the votes. Due to the polling results, The Chronicle disclosed that McElhaney accepts defeat. According to McElhaney, she felt honored and privileged to serve the division as District Three’s representative.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and thankful for my time,” McElhaney stated, adding, “We have nothing left on the table. My team and I put in the elbow grease. We pray that Carroll will be more effective.”

According to Fife, McElhaney sent her a text message on Monday morning talking about her surrender and preparing for a turnover. On Monday, Fife expressed her gratitude to her volunteers through an official statement.

“Our campaign is transitioning into a permanent political organization dedicated to passing transformative legislation and building a progressive majority on the Oakland City Council,” said Fife in her statement. “Join us as we build a better Oakland for all,” she added.

Oakland’s media consultant Jim Ross noted multiple factors contributing to Fife’s win over the City Council seat. In support of Fife, Ross labored on an independent expenditure panel on behalf of the work alliance.

Alameda Labor Council secretary and treasurer Liz Ortega-Toro revealed that Fife gained her labor support through her activist accomplishments. According to Toro, Fife worked alongside them to promote affordable housing for low- to no-income households.

“I fight for workers to have a living wage and also be able to pay their rent and stay in their communities that they serve,” revealed Ortega Toro. “She’s walked picket lines with us. And that is definitely where her values align with labor values,” she added.

According to Ross, other aspects that led to McElhaney’s defeat is the total number of new voters who moved to District Three since McElhaney’s appointment to the city council position. She failed to build relationships with many of these newcomers, resulting in their neutral and unsure certainty towards McElhaney and her campaign. Ross stated that the most crucial lesson for incumbents is not to take anything for granted. 

“If an incumbent doesn’t work, doesn’t represent their district, doesn’t build relationships as they move in, they could be a real risk when they’re up for re-election,” Ross said.

McElhaney ultimately accepts her loss against Fife, declaring that she is ready to move on to the next chapter of her life. She will “continue to be a champion for those voices and support them in my private capacity as a mentoring member of the community.”

McElhaney is known as an advocate against gun violence inspired by experiences she went through in real life when her son, a University of Southern California student, got shot by several men attempting to rob him outside a shop in 2019.