Michael Tubbs continues to aim high and win

Michael Tubbs received a Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award during Commencement in June. The Dinkelspiel Awards recognize distinctive and exceptional contributions to undergraduate education or the quality of student life at Stanford.

By now, many are familiar with Michael Tubbs’ early biography. He was raised by a single mother in Stockton, Calif. When he was 12, he met his incarcerated father, who told him that as a black man in America he was set up to fail.

Determined to shift the paradigm, Tubbs excelled in high school. He applied to Stanford, despite suggestions by guidance counselors that he might be aiming too high.

And aiming high is what Michael Tubbs does best. In 2011 he was named a Truman Scholar. He won a Dinkelspiel Award in June and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and a master’s in policy, organization and leadership studies from the Stanford School of Education.

Even before graduation, Tubbs announced his bid for a seat on the Stockton City Council. When Oprah Winfrey met him during a campus visit last year, she contributed to his campaign. (According to Tubbs, the media mogul has contributed to only two other campaigns: Barack Obama’s and Newark Mayor and Stanford alum Cory Booker’s.)

Last week, Tubbs, 22, won the seat and became the youngest member of the Stockton City Council. Stanford Report caught up with him by email after the election.


How did it feel to be running for office during the same election cycle that President Obama was running for re-election? 

President Obama is an inspiration of mine, and interning with his administration in the White House opened my eyes to the possibilities of making change at the local level.

What is the first thing on your agenda as a city council member? 

Public safety, public safety, public safety. I will be working with the mayor, council and the police department to implement the Ceasefire model [of street violence prevention] as soon as possible. I will also look into how we can best leverage technology to help our police force. Finally, I have already begun working with the school district, nonprofits and the community writ large to design and expand preventive approaches to fighting crime.

What did your mother say when you won? 

She thanked God and said she was proud of me.

Have you heard from Oprah? 

She tweeted me 18 days ago to ask how everything was going.

When you were named a Truman Scholar, you talked about going to law school. Is that still part of your long-term plan? 

I plan on getting my PhD from the city of Stockton.

Any aspirations for even higher office? Mayor? President?  

I aspire to be the best councilman in the next four years for Southside Stockton and Stockton as a whole.

—Elaine Ray