The RepresentWomen interns spoke with Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf on Tuesday. Elizabeth “Libby” Schaaf was elected the Mayor of Oakland, California in 2014 in a ranked choice voting election. Schaaf was born and raised in Oakland and has long been involved in volunteerism in her community. She co-founded Oakland Cares, a non-profit dedicated to organizing volunteer and community projects. A Loyola Law School graduate, Schaaf worked as a legislative aid for former mayor Jerry Brown and served on the Oakland City Council. As mayor, Schaaf has focused on improving education, reducing homelessness, and improving community safety. In 2016, she launched the Oakland Promise, an education initiative aiming to triple the number of college graduates from Oakland by 2025.
In our interview, Mayor Schaaf spoke about her career path, emphasizing her lifelong passion for volunteerism and serving her community. She also spoke about how ranked choice voting made campaigning more civil and encouraged her and the other candidates to appeal to all voters, instead of focusing on a narrow group of voters. Mayor Schaaf shared her advice for women interested in pursuing a career in politics, highlighting the need to build strong relationships with people, be kind, and stay firm and true to one’s core beliefs and passions. She ended on an inspiring note, expressing her belief that when those who have “non-dominant identities” are able to enter the halls of power, everyone benefits.
Special thanks to Mayor Schaaf and her staff for making this interview possible.