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Oakland City Council Candidate Speaks Against Recruitment By JUDITH SCHERR

Special to the Planet
Friday March 25, 2005

Aimee Allison has come a long way from the 17-year-old kid at Antioch High who joined the Army Reserves to get an education. The 35-year-old Stanford graduate and Green Party candidate for Oakland’s District 2 write-in election (to replace a councilmember who quit) spoke at Wednesday’s Berkeley High military recruitment teach-in, explaining how she joined the Army.  

“Aimee, you can do whatever you want to do in life,” she recalls the recruiter saying. One of six children, her parents could not afford to send her to college. “I wanted to go so bad, I was desperate to find a way, any way to go to college.”  

So she became an army medic and was in the Army Reserves for several years. As a student in education at Stanford, she came to realize the extent to which she opposed war and won conscientious objector status during the First Gulf War. She’s been counseling others on how to do that ever since and Wednesday, urged students who don’t want to go into the military to explore other options for funding their education.  

“When I was 17, nobody asked me to think about what it would be like to leave my family, go into training, put on the battle-dress fatigues, and shoot M-16s and kill. Realize that you have rights.”  

The issue of a draft is becoming critical, she told the students. “Many people believe that the question isn’t if there’s going to be a draft, but how it’s going to be implemented,…You have rights; there are those of us who will support you whatever you decide to do.” And the question isn’t just for men. Addressing the young women in the audience, she said: “If you think the draft will not target you, I think that you are mistaken.”  

She told students that it isn’t too early to start preparing a file of their anti-war participation, if they feel strongly against war. 

“Maybe you’ve seen pictures of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. They look just like you. Young men and women of different races from different parts of the country,” she said.  

Making a name for herself in the anti-war community—and taking a strong anti-war stand in her run for Oakland City Council—Allison also spoke at Saturday’s rally in San Francisco marking the second anniversary of the war in Iraq. 

“We cannot end this war without the soldiers joining us,” she said, proposing that cities become a sanctuary for those who refuse to fight.  

Speaking out more strongly at the rally than in the high school auditorium, Allison took aim at military recruiters. “We need to get the blood-sucking recruiters off our campuses,” she said.  

Nine candidates are running for the District 2 seat, vacated by Danny Wan who said the $60,000 council salary was insufficient to help him care for his aging parents. (He reportedly earns twice that amount in his new Port-of-Oakland job.) The election will be held by mail. Registered voters will receive ballots between April 18 and May 7 and must return them by 8 p.m. on May 17.  

District 2 nearly circles Lake Merritt and includes Chinatown. When the area was redistricted in the early 1990s, it was intended to give Asians a district in which they would develop political clout.  

Those running for council seat with Allison, who his endorsed by former councilmember Wilson Riles, are: 

• Shirley Gee, a manager at Stanford University who pushed for a heavily Asian area in the original redistricting. She is endorsed by the North Alameda National Women's Political Caucus.  

• Pamela Drake, a former council aide and longtime community, schools and peace activist. She has the endorsement of former school superintendent Dennis Chaconas.  

• David Kakishiba, director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, who has won the endorsement of Rep. Barbara Lee.  

• Patricia Kernighan, aide first to City Attorney John Russo when he was councilmember and then to Danny Wan. She is endorsed by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. 

• Justin Horner, former chief of staff for Councilmember Jane Brunner—and endorsed by her. He sits on the board of directors of Sentinel Fair Housing and is Vice President of International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21.  

• Paul E. Garrison, a vice president for Wells Fargo and member of the city’s Public Ethics Commission, is president of the Haddon Hill Neighborhood Association.  

• Todd Plate, who identifies himself as a non-profit consultant. 

• Margaret “Peggy” Moore, who identifies herself as a community outreach specialist. 


Upcoming Candidates’ Forums  


Monday, April 11, 6 -7:30 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway (at 2nd St. near Jack London Square).  

Sunday, April 10, 2-5 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd.