Rebecca Kaplan announces bid for mayor
on July 1, 2010
On Wednesday, City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan officially announced that she is running for mayor of Oakland in this year’s November election. After being Oakland’s representative on the AC Transit Board of Directors for six years, then serving as Oakland’s at-large city councilmember from 2008 to present, she has decided to take it up a notch.
“I have represented all of the people of Oakland for over eight years,” she said at her press conference at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland on Wednesday morning. “Through those experiences, it has become clear to me about what is possible in Oakland.”
A “Rebecca Kaplan Oakland 2010” sign was set out on the sidewalk with balloons tied to it, and her staffers walked through the crowd to make sure everyone had signed the mailing list. The crowd was modest, mostly her ardent supporters. When she announced that she decided to run for mayor, the crowd cheered and clapped.
Pointing to the photos on the gallery walls, Kaplan boasted that Oakland has the highest per capita population of artists, and that it has the country’s first wildlife preserve. “We also have both the highest per capita number of lesbians and of churches,” she said, “and that is a beautiful thing.”
Kaplan herself has a rabbinical degree and is openly gay. If elected she would be Oakland’s first openly gay mayor. Kaplan, also an MIT graduate and Stanford-educated lawyer, said that if she becomes mayor she is interested in creating economic opportunity and making sure that public safety is taken seriously. She also talked about improving government responsiveness, “so the public knows we are all working together to build an Oakland we can all be proud of.”
Kaplan had been publicly mulling her candidacy since April, when she formed her “exploratory committee” to help decide whether she should run. This committee hosted fundraisers for supporters and asked the community about key issues and possible solutions in Oakland. She thanked the “hundreds of people” who began supporting her during these past couple of months.
Current mayor Ron Dellums has not announced whether he will run for election again, but both District 4 Councilmember Jean Quan and former State Senate President Don Perata have announced their bid for the position. Contenders have until August 5 to declare their candidacy for mayor.
The race may be getting dirty already. Last week, mailers from an organization calling itself the “Coalition for a Safer California” were sent to Oakland homes, which claimed that Kaplan, along with Quan and councilmember Pat Kernighan, were leading the council’s effort to lay off police officers. (The same coalition also paid for the mailing of a letter sent to Oakland residents signed by the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association that claimed that Quan, Kaplan and Kernighan “are behind the effort to weaken Oakland’s public safety program.”) Last Thursday, in a special budget session, the city council voted to cut the police department by 80 police officers in order to help close the city’s $30.5 million budget gap.
However, Kaplan actually voted against the layoffs. The 5 to 3 vote was between Quan, Kernighan, Ignacio De La Fuente, Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel who voted for the cuts and Desley Brooks, Larry Reid and Kaplan who voted against. According to Kaplan, the group that funded the mailers is the state prison guards’ union. “I have no problem if the prison guards want to debate me on many of the many policies on which we disagree,” Kaplan said. “I believe the fact that California leads the world’s incarceration rate and leads the world’s recidivism rates is fundamentally detrimental to Oakland as well as to human beings throughout our state.”
This prison guards’ union has paid Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata $350,000 to be a “campaign consultant” over the past year and a half, and he was also supported by the union when he was the state Senate president, according to an East Bay Express article written by Robert Gammon. Perata has denied any association with the mailers.
Later that evening, Kaplan threw a party at Oakland’s downtown Era Artbar. The celebration included catered fried chicken from the Merritt Bakery and a giant cake decorated in Kaplan’s campaign colors—purple and green. Staffers mingled with supporters and passersby signed up on her mailing list. Eighties R&B played over the speakers and along with Kaplan’s community supporters, various Oakland insiders were there—campaign organizers, representatives of the cannabis community and people from different government agencies. When Kaplan arrived she walked around the room giving people hugs, waving and shaking hands.
Halfway through the party, Kaplan took the microphone and reiterated to the crowd many of the points she’d made earlier at her press conference and emphasized her goals for building business and a safer city. “These goals are not simple and they will require serious effort, but I fundamentally reject the notion that they are impossible,” she said. “I know it is possible for us to build the Oakland renaissance.”
She also added that she is determined to make Oakland have the highest rate of bicycling in the country by adding more bicycle lanes on city streets and that she is pleased that Oakland is now home to the world’s first unionized cannabis dispensary.
For a Q&A with Rebecca Kaplan about her thoughts and goals for Oakland read her exclusive interview with Oakland North from May 2010.
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