Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong to run for city council amid wrongful termination lawsuit

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Thursday, May 23, 2024
Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong to run for city council
Ousted Oakland police chief LeRonne Armstrong is announcing his run for Oakland city council as he's suing the city for wrongful termination.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong filed paperwork Wednesday morning in a bid for Oakland City Council.

"I could serve beyond law enforcement, beyond the police department. I could continue to give back to my community that has given so much to me," Armstrong said. "I think one of the problems that we see in City Hall, is it's too much bickering and in-fighting. What I think is important is that we prioritize the people."

Armstrong lives in District 7 but is running for the at-large seat, which represents the entire city. Armstrong joins a race with eight other candidates. He says his top priorities are public safety, homelessness and improving Oakland's image.

"Those images that are out there about the city don't fairly represent what Oakland is all about. And really, trying to beautify this city so that the image of it can be what I see, which is a beautiful city that is not like any other in this state," Armstrong said.

The ousted chief was fired by Mayor Sheng Thao last February after an investigation found he mishandled two cases involving his officers. An independent arbitrator later cleared him of wrongdoing. Armstrong has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, which he says won't impact this race.

RELATED: Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong files wrongful termination lawsuit against city, mayor

He may not have prior legislative experience, but points out that he led the largest department in the city with the largest budget.

"So I understand how to balance budgets. And how to manage that. I balanced the OPD budget for the first time in 40 years, the first chief to do that," Armstrong said.

The Oakland chapter of the NAACP is backing Armstrong. Robert Harris, who is on the executive committee, says all of Oakland's problems are directly or indirectly tied to public safety, which gives Armstrong an edge.

"Businesses are leaving because of public safety. People are afraid to go to out on the street because of public safety," Harris said. "So, if you look at the overall issue, Chief Armstrong, in my opinion, is clearly best person to be on the city council."

MORE: Oakland mayor says she won't rehire LeRonne Armstrong as OPD chief

But others are concerned that with Armstrong on city council, OPD could get even more money in the future.

"We are operating in a city that is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on unchecked money on law enforcement. And under the chief's tenure, this amount skyrocketed," said James Burch, the deputy director of the Anti Police-Terror Project.

Armstrong wouldn't comment on the recall campaign against Mayor Thao. But adds, if the mayor's seat become open, "Nothing is off the table."

The former police chief says his experience as a problem-solver gives him an edge.

"If people know anything about me, they know I've worked closely with other people, and I'm willing to come out and solve problems together, and that's no different than I'll be as a councilmember," Armstrong said.

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