Why I’m supporting Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland City Council

14 Apr

In November of 2006, as I celebrated the Dems taking back Congress, I also was beating myself up a bit because I realized that it was the first election season since I’ve been of voting age that I didn’t volunteer for or work for a political campaign. This year, I promised myself I’d get more involved, and I’ve found the candidate that I’ll be devoting most of my political energy towards – Rebecca Kaplan, who’s running for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council.

Here are some of the many reasons I made this decision:

  • Rebecca’s creative and not afraid to voice her opinions: One of the problems with our current City Council is that they seem to be stuck in a cyclical way of thinking about issues, recycling old ideas and complaining again and again without really proposing solutions. Kaplan’s already proving herself to be different – for example, she is proposing recruiting police officers from the thousands of gay and lesbians who have been discharged from the military. Whether you agree with Kaplan’s ideas or not, there’s surely something to be admired about her creativity. V Smoothe describes this well:

I don’t agree with all her ideas, but I love that she’s obviously spent a lot of time thinking about Oakland’s problems and trying to come up with fresh ways to address them… When you’re throwing out new idea after new idea, you’re going to have some duds (I recall her talking about putting officers on Segways at one meeting), but I’d rather see some silly ideas get floated if that’s what it takes to get the gems as well and there than watch a government with a near total lack of initiative (except occasionally to copy some dumb hippy thing San Francisco did). I’m not sold on this don’t-ask-don’t-tell discharged military recruitment strategy she keeps pushing, but at least it’s a new idea.

  • Rebecca’s an ambitious leader who cares passionately about Oakland: Just take a look at her resume to find out yourself. She’s been involved in Oakland politics for several years – from her work on the AC Transit Board of Directors to being one of the strategic minds behind Measure Z, Oakland’s adult-use marijuana initiative, she takes on projects and sees them through. She’s also not above citizen activism – I’ve seen her voice her opinions at several Oakland and Alameda County medical marijuana hearings, and she recently took the council to task about not publicizing the downtown zoning hearings and not holding them in downtown.
  • Rebecca’s a part of the Oakland community: I volunteered for the campaign yesterday, passing out flyers at the Temescal Farmers Market, and I was amazed at how many people knew Rebecca. Here are some of the comments I heard: “I swim with Rebecca.” “I met her on the bus.” “She goes to my church.” Though I was amazed, I wasn’t that surprised because I too have encountered Rebecca at hearings, political events, and on the bus. Somehow, she seems to be just about everywhere and is happy to talk to anyone.

If you’re looking for more information on Kaplan and the other candidates for the at-large council seat, please read V Smoothe’s thorough analysis of the debate. Really, set aside 20 minutes or more and read parts 1 and 2. Though I differ with V in her ultimate conclusion, I think she does an excellent job laying out the issues.

If you find someone that inspires you in this race or another, I encourage you to do something beyond voting – donate, participate in a phone bank or precinct walk, talk to your friends about the candidate. It doesn’t take much time, and it feels really good. Believe me, from my experience in 2006 I know that the alternative of guilt and/or regret is not pretty.

2 Responses to “Why I’m supporting Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland City Council”

  1. V Smoothe April 15, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    This post made me reflect back to November 2006. The return of a Democratic congress was a blur on the TV in the background, as we sat in a lovely Jack London Square loft huddled around a laptop furiously refreshing the local election returns to find out the progress on Measure N, a library bond that I had been spending all my free time advocating for. We lost, and I was despondent the following day at work. My co-workers kept asking me if I was a Republican!

    Still, I am glad now for the energy I put in. Volunteering, for both charitable and political causes, is good for the soul. I was in such a wretched mood yesterday – an interview for a job I desperately wanted went very poorly, then like five other minor upsetting things happened right afterwards. I was frustrated and angry, and found myself unable to concentrate on my work. So I went down to Sean Sullivan’s campaign office and started making phone calls. Doing something to help the community took my mind off my own problems and vastly improved my mood. By the time I finished my precinct, I felt great.

    I think it’s wonderful that you’re helping Kaplan’s campaign, and I second your call for people to get involved. Almost everyone can find 2 hours of time if they try hard enough.

  2. Becks April 15, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    I feel your pain – in November 2004, I was crushed. I had spent several months fundraising for the DNC and had spent a couple weeks campaigning for Kerry in Iowa. For months, I was incredibly depressed and for a while I considered getting out of political activism altogether. But I rebounded and now feel good about the work I did in 2004 – I learned a lot and helped build a stronger Democratic party.

    I completely understand how you feel about using campaign work as a sort of therapy. Volunteering for Friends of BRT and Rebecca Kaplan helps me take my mind off of all the stresses of work and personal life.

    So is it just me and V volunteering for Oakland candidates or is anyone else in the blogoaksphere getting active? It might be a bit intimidating at first, but trust me, you’ll enjoy it and feel better about yourself and your community.

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