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Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong announces City Council run

Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong enters race for city council seat
Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong enters race for city council seat 04:00

OAKLAND – Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong announced Wednesday that he will run for the Oakland City Council, more than a year after being ousted by Mayor Sheng Thao.

The former chief was all smiles in the city clerk's office as he filed the paperwork to run for the at-large city council seat.

"I've filled out a lot of job applications for this city, but this is a new one," Armstrong said.

The at-large seat is currently held by Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

At a news conference outside Oakland City Hall, Armstrong said he had considered running for the council for several months.

"I think it's important as our city experiences, obviously dramatic increases in violence, budget issues, homeless issues, I think it's important that I bring my leadership to the table," Armstrong said.

When asked why he is running for the at-large seat, Armstrong said that people throughout Oakland have been asking him to run.

Raw Video: Former OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong announces City Council run 06:00

"As police chief, I've had access to community members across the city. And so many people have asked me to run from different areas of the city and I thought it was important that I represent the entire city," he said.  

During the briefing, Armstrong touted his time as chief, noting that he balanced Oakland Police Department budget for the first time in 40 years.

"So I understand how to spend money and how to make sure the department actually takes care of the funding it receives. But I also come with the experience in solving problems in the city, addressing crime in this city, addressing homelessness issues and working collaboratively with organizations throughout this city," he said.

An Oakland native who served more than two decades on the Oakland Police Department, Armstrong became police chief in 2021.

Armstrong was fired by the mayor in Feb. 2023, following a report by the independent police monitor that accused him of a failure of leadership in his handling of two misconduct cases involving the same officer. The claim was later rejected by an administrative law judge.

In February, Armstrong filed a lawsuit against the city and Thao, alleging wrongful termination.

Bishop Bob Jackson at Acts Full Gospel Church has been a longtime supporter of Armstrong, even standing with him at rallies as Armstrong tried to get his job back.

Bishop Jackson said he talked with Armstrong about making the transition from public service to politics.

"The conversations that we had were centered around what can I do now that I'm fired from police chief? He's dedicated his life, put his life on the line as a police officer and now coming back to be a leader, I think he's the ideal man," he said.

Political analyst James Taylor said Armstrong will be tough to beat in the November election due to his wide-spread name recognition within the city.

"One shouldn't be surprised that LeRonne Armstrong would look for another outlet in which to do public service. It represents a new challenge for him. He'll have less power in the city, but he'll have more impact on city wide issues," Armstrong said.

Taylor believes the at-large council seat could just be a stepping stone to something bigger.

"I could see LeRonne Armstrong positioning himself now to become mayor of Oakland in the next eight to 10 years. It's almost an interview, on the job training interview that if he can do the at large seat well, then he can certainly run the city well," Taylor told KPIX.

More candidates could still enter the race for the at-large council seat. The deadline to file is Aug. 9.

Earlier this month, Floyd Mitchell, the former police chief of Lubbock, Texas, took over the job as chief of police following a search that took more than a year.

Armstrong said that he wished Mitchell success leading the department. "I am an Oakland resident, if he succeeds and the city is safe, then I'm happy, my family is happy and the city is safe," he said.

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