Sandre Swanson

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Sandre Swanson

Template:TOCnestleft Sandré Swanson (born 1948) was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2006. Swanson represents the 16th Assembly District. The district includes the cities of Alameda, Oakland, and Piedmont. Swanson is a Democrat and endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election.

In November 2012, the City of Oakland announced that it had hired longtime East Bay politician Sandré Swanson to be the city's deputy mayor, under Jean Quan.


Sandré Swanson met Congressman Ron Dellums in the early 1970s. Dellums, at that time, was a candidate for Congress and Swanson was the Student Body President at Laney College in Oakland, California. Their first meeting was at an Oakland peace march protesting the May 4, 1970 killing of four Kent State University student protesters by the Ohio State National Guard. The students were protesting President Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

This shooting ignited a national student strike which was unprecedented in the history of our country. Ron and other Civil Rights Leaders were leading the march while Sandré was leading the Laney Student Body protest. Sandré, who was not acquainted with Ron at the time, was carrying with others a mock wooden casket of the fallen students. He was so impressed with Ron’s speech that day that he organized scores of students to work on the Dellums for Congress campaign.

In 1971, Sandré Swanson was elected, via neighborhood balloting, as the East Oakland representative for the Oakland Anti-Poverty Board. He became one of the Board’s most vocal Vice-Chairman.[1]

Political career

In 1972, Wilson Riles, Jr., who was the Northern California Coordinator for the historic presidential campaign for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, recruited Sandré Swanson to run the campaign’s Advance Team. During that campaign, Swanson met activist Barbara Lee, who was also working in the Chisholm campaign. Lee was "quite impressed" with Sandré Swanson and recommended to Congressman Dellums that he hire him as part of his congressional staff.

On May 1, 1973, Congressman Ron Dellums and his District Administrator, Donald R. Hopkins, hired Sandré Swanson as a member of the district office staff. He was 24 years old. During his tenure, Swanson held positions as Aide, Press Secretary, Staff Assistant and District Director.

In the fall of 1976, Judge Lionel Wilson, another significant mentor, made a personal request of Congressman Dellums that he be allowed to borrow Sandré Swanson to manage his campaign for mayor.

With the assistance of Sandré as his Campaign Manager, Judge Wilson became Oakland’s first African-American Mayor on May 17, 1977.

On October 25, 1977, Mayor Wilson appointed Swanson to the Oakland Civil Service Commission, where he served with distinction as Chairman and Commissioner for two terms. The Commission’s caseload for employee and union appeals doubled because everyone got a fair hearing with Chairman Swanson ruling on their appeals.

In the summer of 1990, Congressman Dellums invited Nelson Mandela to Oakland, California following his release from prison after 27 years. A coalition of labor, community and church groups asked Congressman Dellums to grant leave for Sandré so that he could be the Northern California Coordinator for the Nelson Mandela Freedom Tour during its Oakland visit. Sandré, working with the "legendary" Bill Graham and hundreds of community organizations, brought 60,000 people to the Oakland Coliseum in support of this celebration. He organized a fund-raising dinner attended by 3,000 people, which completed this historic event. The committee gave the Free South Africa Movement the largest contribution of the tour.

In 1993, as a result of military base closures, Congressman Dellums asked Sandré Swanson to spearhead the congressional district’s military base conversion effort. Sandré was the architect of the cross-jurisdictional memberships on the local reuse authorities in charge of military base conversion in our county. He served as the Vice-Chairman for the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority and Commissioner on the Oakland Base Authority for five years.

In 1998, following Congressman Dellums retirement, Congress-woman Barbara Lee hired Swanson as her District Director. On May 1, 1999, twenty-six years after she recommended that Congressman Dellums hire him, she appointed Sandré as her Chief of Staff. As the Congresswoman’ s most trusted advisor, he managed the Washing-ton, D.C. and the California district offices. When asked recently about her retiring Chief of Staff Congresswoman Lee said “Sandré has been a mentor, and has served as an effective counsel, whose sound logic and wisdom I trust. But above all else, I am proud to call Sandré a friend”.

Sandré is the past Chairman of the Alameda County Retirement Board, and is currently in his 3rd term as a Trustee for the $4.7 billion pension organization. The retirement board supports the pension system and retirement security for 15,000 active and retired county employees and their families.[2]

DSA support

Members of Democratic Socialists of America worked on Swanson's unsuccessful campaign for Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 1982. [3]

Assembly run

Sandré Swanson ran to win the 16th Assembly District’s Democratic Party primary election on June 6, 2006.[4]


Honorary Campaign Committee

Swanson's 2006 Honorary Campaign Committee, included several key members of the Northern California left;[5]


Sandré Swanson has a specific record of "progressive" leadership on behalf of the residents in the East Bay. His record of service has been endorsed by the California Teachers Association; California Nurses Association; California Labor Federation; Central Labor Council of Alameda County; the Sierra Club; Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, OakPac; Oakland Education Association, OEA; California State Council,SEIU; American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, AFSCME; California Federation of Teachers; Faculty Association of California Community Colleges; Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council and the California League of Conservation Voters.[6]



  1. 2006, Sandre Swanson, State Assembly run, promotional website
  2. 2006, Sandre Swanson, State Assembly run, promotional website
  3. [DSA Western Regional newsletter, Dec. 1982, page 2]
  4. 2006, Sandre Swanson, State Assembly run, promotional website
  5. Sandre Swanson website, Endorsements, accessed July 28, 2011
  6. 2006, Sandre Swanson, State Assembly run, promotional website