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.