In the 2020 Oakland Elections, Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is facing a major challenge from friend and perennial campaigner Nancy Sidebotham, and newcomer Derreck Johnson.
Nancy is an incredible member of the Oakland political world, but her main advantage is in pointing out problems, less than offering solutions. I like Derreck Johnson, and his run represents a need for more black male participation in Oakland politics. That said, he has no previous Oakland political experience at all, and no knowledge of municipal governance. As much as his efforts and his errors in business are good teachers for him, and for anyone entering politics, and draw media racism he’s not ready to lead Oakland at this point in time, Moreover, he’s the latest manchurian candidate offered up by my godsister Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Libby should just work to make friends with Rebecca. I’ve said that before, I’ll say it again.
Anyway, when I think of Rebecca, I think of what I contend is her signature, lasting effort. The one that shows good Oakland City Council work in action: The Broadway Free Transit Shuttle that’s now an Oakland institution.
I also think of the many ideas she’s formed to help Oakland’s budget, as well as the many, many small efforts she has made to ease the lives of Oaklanders. It does not matter if it’s a City Council motion that passes, or co-authoring legislation to get Oakland’s speeding problem under control, the fact is, the total number of legal changes she has made for Oaklanders has not been effectively chronicled. The point is, experience matters.
The Oakland City Council faces the very real prospect of having a membership consisting of no one with over one year of experience. And that’s in the middle of a Pandemic. Rebecca must be re-elected to assure the maintenance of institutional memory, so that current political biases don’t cause a misunderstanding, and there fore a mishandling, of government. How to work with Oakland City Staff is more important than anything. Hiring the right people to represent the councilmember is equally more important than anything. We’re in the dark with Derreck Johnson, and even my friend Nancy Sidebotham – but not with Rebecca Kaplan, the Oakland City Council President.
With all of that, why is Rebecca opposed? Well, I will say that she gained the backing of the Democratic Party, as well as a list of notables the party pointed to: “SEIU Local 1021, the Sierra Club, Block by Block Organizing Network (BBON), Former State Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, California Nurses Association (CNA), Firefighters Local 55, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, Black Women Organized for Political Action PAC, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Alameda Labor Council, Alameda County Building Trades Council, Sprinkler Fitters Local 483, Former Mayor Elihu Harris, Vice Mayor Larry Reid, President Pro Tem Dan Kalb, Councilmembers Sheng Thao, Nikki Fortunato-Bas and Noel Gallo, Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno, Founder of She the People Aimee Allison, Pastor J. Alfred Smith Sr., Reverend Harold Mayberry, California Young Democrats National Committee Representative Igor Tregub, Cat Brooks, and many more endorsing Rebecca Kaplan.”
I add myself to that list, and I am proud to endorse my long time friend. Rebecca and I have three things in common: first, we’re both ostracized to some extent for being ourselves, me as a straight, black, tech-oriented guy with a Jewish last name who “talks white”, she for being butch lesbian and Jewish. Then, we’re both urban planning and economics grad school grads from MIT for her and Berkeley for me, and we both love Oakland.
Vote for Rebecca Kaplan.
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