NUHW member at Children’s Hospital Oakland is elected to the Concord City Council
In the spring of 2016, Laura Nakamura, a cardiac sonographer at UCSF Children’s Hospital Oakland, attended a Bernie Sanders rally and “came home really fired up.”
An avid bike rider, she soon began attending Concord City Council meetings advocating for safer streets as a member of the grassroots organization Bike Concord.
It was, as she puts it, “her gateway drug to politics.”
Nakamura decided this year that it was time to effect change from the inside and launched her candidacy for Concord City Council.
She was a longshot to defeat incumbent Tim McGallian in the city’s fifth council district, but with her NUHW colleagues supporting her every step of the way, Nakamura scored an upset victory joining Natalie Rogers of Santa Rosa as the only two NUHW members currently elected to serve on city councils.
Nakamura credits her victory to a “people power campaign” involving over 100 of her coworkers, friends and NUHW staff.
“We had no money, but we pulled it off,” she said. “We beat a campaign that had $45,000 of PAC money at least; they had five mailers and commercials, and for me it was about all those relationships I made at the door and having that conversation with voters.”
Even in the heat of a council race, Nakamura never shirked her duties as an NUHW steward and a bargaining committee member — and that won’t change once she takes office.
“Being a steward has really instilled in me the importance of standing up for each other,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m still there with my coworkers.”
Just like her coworkers were there for her on the campaign trail.
“We’re so proud of her,” said Fran Merriweather, a licensed clinical social worker at Children’s Hospital, who knocked on doors and made calls for Nakamura.
“Laura is passionate about helping improve the lives of people in Concord,” Merriweather said. “She sees the need and she’s willing to put the time in to work at it.”
When she’s sworn in to her new position in early December, Nakamura said she’ll prioritize defending the rights of renters, improving housing availability, as well as protecting for LGBTQ youth and communities of color.
Her recommendation to others who might want to follow in her political footsteps?
“People power works,” she said. “It takes being engaged, knowing what’s going on and having a strong community support around you.”