I am staunchly independent and have a diverse array of friends across the political spectrum. When I was registered with political parties I voted for candidates regardless of party affiliation whom I thought would be the best in the office, and I also voted for candidates who lacked great popularity. Liberals, Libertarians, socialists, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Peace & Freedom, have all earned my respect and vote, but my loyalty is to our American democracy – not to a political party.

I have a similar relationship with people of different economic conditions. Although I was born into a community notoriously poor, I never believed that those more wealthy were necessarily evil or devoid of empathy or had nothing in common with me. I've always believed that this country offers the best opportunity for the possibility of improving one's circumstances. Over the years, as I became more familiar and interacted with people of less-desperate means, my background has helped me communicate the importance of looking beyond the traditional view of worth and exalted status and recognizing the value, rights and responsibilities of all our citizens.

It’s been a fact throughout my life: many of my friends don’t like or don’t readily feel they have much commonality with many of the other friends and strangers I like. I understand their interests and find ways we can get together to solve problems. Oakland needs a mayor with this history of non-partisanship and bridging divides.