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Kamala Harris: Oakland Native Set To Face Historic Challenges As Vice President

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) - Much has been made of the Kamala Harris biography, from Oakland to the White House. It would be a monumental story at any time, but the Vice President-elect is about to become a historic figure in wildly historic times.

"We are in crisis," says veteran prosecutor Paul Henderson. "Decisions need to take place immediately as they relate to civil unrest. Immediately as they relate to coronavirus and vaccinations."

Henderson spent five years working for Harris, when she was San Francisco District Attorney. From the virus to political upheaval, he said the job Harris is taking on starting Wednesday is as large as the challenges facing the country.

COVID-19 Memorial Service Held In Washington On The Eve Of Biden's Inauguration
U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers brief remarks during a memorial service to honor the nearly 400,000 American victims of the coronavirus pandemic at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"All of this is all taking place at the same time," Henderson told KPIX 5. "And it almost overshadows the process of celebration for the inauguration, which is going to be unique in and of itself. That's where we're headed."

But in these dire circumstances may be an opportunity for a uniquely successful vice presidency.

"Absolutely," said Artesha Rose of Oakland. "With the pandemic, and with the riots, and then with dealing with people of color being shot by cops. I think it's a good time to have a woman of color in the office. I think it will bring people together."

"The idea of them being able to try to heal some of those wounds or bring the country back," explains SFSU Political Science Professor Jason McDaniel.

"You know, optimism for the future, and you see that in a lot of ways. Kamala Harris is smiling and quite effusive in her public appearances these days. I think that's a lot of what's going on as they transition in a very weird time," McDaniel went on to say.

The job description of the Vice President has always been a vague one, and Joe Biden has talked about making Harris his full partner. What that looks like, will begin unfolding starting Wednesday.

"It's going to be very telling, I think, to the rest of the country not just what the administration chooses to tackle first, but how they tackle it,"  Henderson said. "And what role the Vice President will play or influence many of those decisions."

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