Kaplan gathers signatures for fall ballot
on July 17, 2010
As the fog burned away into sunshine Saturday morning, campaign volunteers manned a table on the Lakeview Branch Library lawn and gathered signatures to officially put Rebecca Kaplan on the ballot for this fall’s mayoral election.
“I’m Rebecca Kaplan, and yes it’s true, I will be the next mayor of Oakland!” Kaplan announced to a crowd of about 35 people.
Even though Kaplan officially declared her candidacy two weeks ago, in order to be put on the November ballot each mayoral candidate must collect the signatures of 150 registered Oakland voters by the August 6 filing deadline. Voters are only allowed to sign one candidate’s petition.
Purple and green “Rebecca Kaplan for Mayor” yard signs roped off a meeting place for nearby farmer’s market shoppers and Lake Merritt passersby to come talk to campaign volunteers, who wore purple shirts with the campaign’s crest on the front and the words “Kaplan ‘10” on the back. Purple and green helium-filled balloons surrounded the perimeter and guided curious bystanders toward the event. A large campaign banner hung on stilts behind a purple box, upon which Kaplan stood to address the crowd.
“We know the campaign to build a better Oakland is a job for all of us,” Kaplan told the crowd. “I’m so grateful for all the people who have stepped up.”
Kaplan served on the AC Transit Board of Directors from 2002 until 2008 and has held the Oakland city council at-large seat since her election in November, 2008. If elected as mayor, she has promised to support community policing, attract business investment and local jobs, and plan for transit-oriented developments.
Kaplan faces a field of seven other declared contenders, including fellow City Councilmember Jean Quan and former State Senator Don Perata.
In addition to signing the petition to put Kaplan on the ballot, new volunteers could sign up to phone bank or canvass neighborhoods for the campaign. “I don’t think she has a chance if it’s just a money race,” said volunteer Peter Lavoie, who lives near Lake Merritt. “But it’s a David and Goliath thing. We need people standing with her.”
Community activist Max Allstadt of Artists for Oakland said he supports Kaplan because of her ability to bring people together and get things done for the city. “There are all sorts of technical issues that go with being in city politics, but if you don’t understand that the technical issues are emotional issues for people, you won’t work well in city politics. Rebecca gets it,” said Allstadt.
Allstadt said he has been to nearly every campaign event of Kaplan’s and has contributed the maximum amount of money allowed by campaign financing rules toward her campaign.
Other volunteers present on Saturday, like Lavoie, had been with the campaign only a short time. “She’s someone I could get behind,” Lavoie said, noting this was the first time he had volunteered for a political campaign. “And she is someone who can get behind me.”
Helena Larks drove from her home in Concord to the event, even though she can’t vote for Kaplan in November. “I know her a little bit personally and read her agenda on Facebook,” Larks said. “I think it would be great if she was the next Oakland mayor. I like her ideas. I think it’s worth it [to volunteer].”
Kaplan’s campaign staff said that she is gaining traction with voters on Facebook. She currently has more than 1,500 fans, which her campaign staff said is more than any other mayoral candidate.
Not everyone who came to the event was happy with Kaplan. One woman complained to Lavoie that she would never again vote for Kaplan—she did so in the at-large election for city council two years ago—after noting that Kaplan “obstructed the police” during the aftermath of the Johannes Mehserle verdict two weeks ago. Kaplan and fellow councilmember and mayoral candidate Jean Quan have come under criticism for standing between protestors and the police during Thursday night’s events, but Kaplan has maintained in interviews this week that she and Quan were promoting peace and her actions prevented further unrest from occurring.
“She better signal she supports the police,” the woman angrily told Lavoie, who reminded her that Kaplan was one of three councilmembers who voted last month not to lay off 80 police officers due to budget cuts. Kaplan spoke to the woman in private before she left the event, and noted that last month a statewide prison lobby circulated a mailer to Oakland voters which inaccurately states that Kaplan supported laying off the police officers to balance the budget.
Kaplan and six other candidates participated in a community forum on public safety on Thursday. Other candidates may still declare before the Aug. 6 cutoff; it’s unknown if current mayor Ron Dellums intends to bid for re-election.
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