Derreck Johnson is a third-generation Oaklander, entrepreneur and community leader, running for mayor of the California city. Johnson talked with rolling out about why he’s running for mayor, how he would describe his leadership style, and what the city of Oakland is missing.
Why are you running for mayor of Oakland?
Our government is broken, and the systems are not working. I don’t see any change coming from any candidate that’s running, and I was actually looking to support somebody before I ran my first race. I felt we just needed a different perspective in leadership. I am not a career politician, I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I decided to run. I’ve held many positions in the city. I’ve been a cannabis commissioner and now I’m the chair of the local workforce development board. I see firsthand just how inefficient these departments and our local government are run. There isn’t a system on Earth where you can be inefficient, don’t meet deliverables or timelines, and really waste money where you can still profit and be moved upwards.
How would you describe your leadership style?
My style of leadership is one of very much engagement, and very much I’m not the person that thinks he knows everything. I think that’s another issue with our local leadership that everyone wants. Everyone wants to create their own policy. I believe in not reinventing the wheel. There are plenty of policies in past history that have worked that we might need to review and reactivate. There are some policies currently that are not working. I will be the type of leader that always tells the truth. I’m human, if I make a mistake, I will own it, and hold myself and my team accountable. That’s the best thing I learned.
Why should people come out and support your campaign?
I need all the support — because you’re not supporting me, Derreck Johnson, you’re supporting the future of our Black community. That’s why I’m doing this. There are a million things that I could be doing right now in my life. But at this stage, I’ve had a successful business. I’ve had the big house in the hills, and none of that really made me happy. What really made me happy was watching these young men and women that I hire, coming straight out of the penitentiary, turning their lives around and becoming productive citizens. That was always the joy that has been brought into my heart and into my soul. That’s what I want to bring to our community because we are in a state of emergency, and it’s time for all of us to wake up and come together as one and move our community forward.