Michael Tubbs' long involvement in community efforts in Stockton remained strong throughout his years at Stanford. As a rising sophomore, he founded a youth advocacy group, Save Our Stockton, in the summer of 2009 with some friends. In May of his sophomore year, five murders in Stockton stirred him to found the Stockton Summer Success and Leadership Academy to help stem violence in the area. During the fall of 2010, Tubbs worked at the White House under senior adviser Valerie Jarrett researching the most effective practices implemented by mayors and city councils around the United States to solve problems similar to those faced by Stockton.
Then, in November, Stockton's struggles hit Tubbs on a more personal level when his cousin was murdered. He was not satisfied by the community and political response to the homicide.
"I was looking at the response from the person elected to represent my district, and it just was lackluster in my opinion," he said. "I just saw the need, the lack of hope." Recently, Tubbs has returned home on a weekly basis to campaign, chat with members of the community and make his weekly Saturday walk through the district. His home is campaign headquarters, and his family, after some initial trepidation, strongly supports his campaign. Cameron Henry 'l2, Tubbs' close friend, campaign marketing director and student organizer, said Tubbs' engagement with the community makes him a strong candidate.
"[You can tell he is a good candidate by] looking at the man and the love he's shown for this town," Henry said. "Literally every paper and every class he's taken have been looking at how he can help Stockton."
"I think he has the natural talent and charisma, as well as a real vision of what he's trying to accomplish," said Jim Steyer, a comparative studies in race and ethnicity (CSRE) lecturer who has worked closely with Tubbs.
Heading into his last quarter of his senior year, Tubbs said he hasn't had much time for nostalgia. He's simply been too busy. In addition to running for city council and completing his bachelor's degree in CSRE, he is working toward his co-terminal master's degree in policy, organization and leadership studies, serving as a Resident Assistant (RA) in Ujamaa and running his various programs and initiatives.
These include the Phoenix Scholars Program, a program he founded in March 2010 that provides college counseling and mentorship to over-200 low-income, first generation and/or minority high school students. "Today I looked at the Oval, and I [thought] 'Yo, this is so pretty!'" he said. "It was the first time I had stopped to do that.. . I think I'm just going to get really sad in June. [Stanford] has been home." Although Tubbs regrets the lack of time he has had to reflect on his Stanford experience, he continues to pile his schedule with new activities. Instead of taking time off to relax over spring break or head home to campaign, he led a civil rights-focused Alternative Spring Break (ASB) service trip to Washington D.C. "[Going on the trip] makes no sense in the middle of the campaign, but hey, this is what we do," he said. Even though he immerses himself in multiple activities, Tubbs still has time for fun. He has even missed classes to coach the Ujamaa basketball team in intramural playoffs and makes sure to find time to go out on the weekends. While he is confident and optimistic about his City Council bid, Tubbs said he is concerned with keeping his energy, identity and commitment to the community admidst what he sees as the murkiness of politics.
2012 Stockton Council campaign
Around 40 students stood in White Plaza for the Stanford Democrats' final rally before Election Day on Nov. 2. 2012. Michael Tubbs 'l2, the 22-year-old Democratic candidate for Stockton City Council's sixth district, was unimpressed. "I don't know.... This is a rally, right? A rally ?" he said as he jumped onto a platform overlooking the Claw. "This is where I'm supposed to be?" For the first time all afternoon, the sleeping crowd stood up and began to cheer. "It wasn't turned up," he said after his speech. "I had to turn it up."
Tubbs has had a bit of practice firing up audiences, having spent the last nine months trying to convince Stockton that he has the passion and dedication to effect positive change in the ailing city.
Tubbs' opponent is incumbent Republican Dale Fritchen, whom he described as "a good man but a bad leader for Stockton." Tubbs criticized the incumbent for failing to take a leader's stand on Stockton's crime problems. "His campaign strategy is... defeatist. [Fritchen says,] 'Stockton is going to be crime-ridden, so lock your doors at night.' That's stupid," Ribbs said. "That's not leadership."
Back in May, Tubbs made ripples on campus when he received a high-profile endorsement from Oprah Winfrey, which made him only the third politician she has ever endorsed, joining President Barack Obama and Newark Mayor Cory Booker '9l MA '92. More recently, Tubbs has also gotten local support from Stockton-area rapper M.C. Hammer, who led a canvass for Tubbs and Congressman Jerry McNerney on Nov. 5.
Endorsed by Our Revolution
Kamala Harris for Senate campaign kickoff event
Steve Phillips April 1, 2015.
PowerPAC+ supported Elected and Appointed Leadership
The list of PowerPAC+ leaders is growing.
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- Stacey Abrams - Georgia State Assembly
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- Pete Gallego - U.S. Congress, Texas-23
- Michelle Lujan Grisham - U.S. Congress, New Mexico-1
- Kamala Harris - Attorney General, California
- Mazie Hirono - U.S. Senate, Hawaii
- Mary Gonzalez - Texas State Legislature
- Mary Ann Perez - Texas State Legislature
- Mark Takano - U.S. Congress, California-41
- Michael Tubbs - Stockton City Council, California
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Democracy in Color podcast
The Democracy in Color podcast, hosted by Aimee Allison, features today’s best and brightest political political leaders, strategists and thinkers of the New American Majority. We’ve featured Senator Cory Booker; Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal; San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs; BART Director Lateefah Simon; writer Eric Liu; #Goodmuslimbadmuslim co-host Tanzila Ahmed; New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, and writers Rebecca Solnit and Jeff Chang, among many others. Ellen McGirt, editor of Fortune magazine’s raceAhead, calls it: "The smartest podcast on race I've found in ages. Listen and grow.".
- [ The Stanford Daily, Volume 241, Issue 74, 15 June 2012]
- [The Stanford Daily, Volume 242, Issue 33, 6 November 2012]
- Our Revolution; Our Candidates, accessed October 27, 2016
- Berniecrats, accessed August 24
- PowerPAC+Elected and Appointed Leadership, accessed Dec. 1 ,2014