I’m not going to vote for Rebecca Kaplan just because she’s easy on the eyes for an incumbent, nor because I first met her at Art Murmur–one of the coolest places to meet a politician ever. I’m going to vote for Kaplan because she is one of the most exciting, innovative and promising candidates to run for mayor of Oakland in years. She’s got big competition – Don Perata and Jean Quan – but voting for Kaplan is our best chance to change this city.
The fat cat of the race—former president pro tem of the California Senate, Don Perata—has a long history of inaction. Perata aims to be another high profile figure that wins Oakland over out of career habit. Oakland voters should choose someone who isn’t settling into a hiatus—we need a rising star whose success is linked inextricably with our own.
In Sacramento, Perata had one of the worst records for getting his legislation passed into law. After signing state contracts with friends’ businesses and splitting the rewards, Perata was investigated for five years by the FBI over charges of financial corruption (local officials ultimately decided not to prosecute). Perata’s campaign has spent $221,000 more than Oakland’s campaign expenditure limit of $379,000. His rationale? An independent committee broke the limit first, freeing everyone to follow suit. That committee is led by one of Perata’s long-term friends.
Jean Quan may seem like the safe alternative to Perata’s bid, but there is a reason the Oakland Educational Association has outright refused to endorse her. She has consistently ignored and voted against teacher’s interests, sidelining the group with the most support for Oakland youth. Her support for Measure Y was misguided and damaging.
Compare Perata and Quan’s histories with Kaplan’s record. At 40, Kaplan is younger than her competition, but highly intelligent and brightly innovative (she went to Stanford and MIT). In her two years on City Council, Kaplan spearheaded the campaign for a free Broadway shuttle, reformed outdated nightclub and cabaret laws and led the effort to tax and regulate medical cannabis.
Kaplan’s vision of Oakland features more neighborhood police beats, consistent with her vote against the police layoffs. She understands the importance of smart growth and wants the city to start seriously attracting new green businesses, which would provide thousands of jobs for the unemployed of this city. She recognizes Oakland’s potential and wants to build up from its existing strengths.
The incredible emerging art scene, the strong attraction the city holds for college graduates and young professionals, the space Oakland has for green businesses, its thriving cuisine, citizens’ interest in environmental and social justice – these are all things that Oakland has to offer. Kaplan’s the one candidate who has expressed clear commitment to each and every one.
Kaplan knows simple things can solve big problems, but she’s just as invested in the big solutions. She would be historic – Oakland’s first woman and openly lesbian mayor, but also the first mayor in decades that was truly committed to healing Oakland’s painful history and making a space for the growth, creativity and social change that our citizens want and believe in.