Vote Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland City Council At-Large

She’s a smart, capable elected official.


Kaplan has been a longtime advocate for smart growth, also known as transit-oriented development.

Ariel Nava

We wholeheartedly endorse the reelection of Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan to her At-Large seat in the Nov. 8 election. Kaplan is a smart, capable public official who has served on the council since 2008 and has put together another impressive year in 2016.

She has taken a prominent, leadership role this year on several important issues facing the city, including the successful ban on coal shipments to the Port of Oakland—one of the worst ideas we’ve seen in a long time. Kaplan also spearheaded the renters’ protection measure, is a strong backer of the citizens’ police review commission proposal, and a leading supporter of the soda tax plan on the November ballot. Kaplan also supports Oakland’s $600 million infrastructure bond and the county’s $580 million affordable housing bond, which are both also on the November ballot.

But where we really agree with Kaplan is her longtime advocacy for smart growth, also known as transit-oriented development. Kaplan was among the first East Bay public officials to push for building dense housing projects along major transit corridors in urban areas in order to curb suburban sprawl and greenhouse-gas-belching commutes. She’s also a powerful supporter of creating bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets.

In the past, Kaplan has sometimes been criticized for having a lax work ethic, but we think those days are over. Not only has she been an active, vibrant member of the council, but she also serves as chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission and is a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors.

Her main opponent, Peggy Moore, a former top aide to Mayor Libby Schaaf, is also an intelligent and accomplished person. And we think she would make a fine councilmember, too, but she has failed so far to detail a compelling case for why she should replace Kaplan. In fact, Moore’s positions on the major issues are virtually identical to those of the incumbent. The only real difference is that Moore contends she will get a long better with Schaaf.

We have been disappointed with the occasional quarrels between Kaplan and Schaaf in the past two years. At times, their conflicts seem to have been more about personality clashes than real disagreement on the issues. We urge both women to set aside their personal beefs and once again become allies in making Oakland the best city it can be.

We also strongly urge Kaplan to distance herself from the badly ill-advised plan by Councilmember Desley Brooks to confiscate 25 percent of gross revenues from medical cannabis businesses in Oakland and use the money as a slush fund for her friends and cronies. Kaplan has long been a leading advocate for expanding Oakland’s medical marijuana industry, and Brooks’ plan would effectively stymie that effort.

As for the other main candidate in the race, Bruce Quan, a longtime civil rights lawyer and businessman, he seems like a very nice fellow, and he’s had an impressive career in private life. He also deserves thanks for putting together the financing for the massive—and much-needed—3,100-unit Brooklyn Basin housing project on the Oakland waterfront.

But Quan also has failed to outline major differences with Kaplan and has displayed a weak grasp of policy. In his interview with Oakland Magazine, he pushed two proposals that are currently unlawful in California—requiring private property developers to include affordable housing in apartment projects and mandating that they hire union workers.

Published Oct. 5, 2016 at 12:32 p.m.

Our endorsements are unanimous selections of the editorial board. If we do not make an endorsement in a race, it means that we could not reach unanimity on a selection.

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