Derreck Johnson is a self-described serial entrepreneur. He is the owner of the Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland. 70% of his employees are formerly incarcerated folk and he wants to put hope back into the citizens of Oakland.
He notes that 47% of Black businesses in Oakland are failing as compared to 17% of white-owned businesses and he wants to help other business owners.
Pre-pandemic this year he decided to become a first-time candidate and run for the Oakland City Council at-large position against incumbent Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Sidebotham.
Johnson, Black, single, and openly gay, is a third-generation Oaklander, born in 1964 at Kaiser Oakland. He attended an HBCU, Fisk University, and is a proud member of one of the Divine Nine, Kappa Alpha Psi.
His campaign slogan is “made for this moment” and his mission is to connect City Hall to the community.
His campaign website, JohnsonForOakland.com, lists Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator, and Democratic V.P. Nominee, 2020; Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland; Betty Yee, California State Controller; Lateefah Simon, BART Board President; Malia Cohen, State Board of Equalization Chair; Don Perata, State Senate President Pro Tem (Retired); Ignacio De La Fuente, Council President (Retired); and many others as supporters.
As an entrepreneur and Oakland resident Johnson vows to put “Oakland First” with equity and justice. He wants to educate citizens about how their tax dollars are being used.
He is concerned about the homeless situation which he finds “deplorable and heartbreaking” especially because 80% of that population is Black and a large number are members of the LBGTQ community.
His business was forced to close on March 17, and he laid off employees reducing his staff from 42 to 9 as sales dropped and they were forced to convert to take out only.
Deeply spiritual, Johnson had faith and worked with his landlord to reduce the rent of the unused dining space. He is also thankful for World Central Kitchen supported by Steph and Ayesha Curry, which has given him the ability to hire back 60% of his staff.
He is concerned about the issues of affordability and folks being able to live in Oakland. He states he will bring his business and real-life experience to Oakland city politics.
He thinks the notion of defunding the police is tantamount to dismantling the police and is the wrong message.
Instead, he emphasizes the three R’s: 1. Reconstruct 2. Reform/Repurpose, and 3. Reimagine/Recruit Black and Brown officers.
Johnson adds that the police should “serve and protect, not brutally victimize” and calls for immediate accountability and safety.
He would like to see Midnight Basketball and other ways of engaging the community with the police.
He embraces former President Obama’s 8cantwait.org noting that Oakland needs to implement “banning chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring a warning before shooting, and restricting shooting at moving vehicles.”
On a personal note, Johnson has learned much from the discrimination faced by his best friend who is transgender. He uses those lessons to help guide him towards equity for all.