Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan jumped into the crowded mayoral race this week, releasing a professional looking 30-second video in which she declares “Oakland isn’t ungovernable – it’s just ungoverned.”
Kaplan formally announced her candidacy at a 1 p.m. news conference Thursday (June 5) in East Oakland. She is currently the at-large representative on the City Council and easily won re-election two years ago. She does not need to give up her council seat to seek the mayor’s office.
The only out LGBT candidate in the 17-person field, Kaplan, 43, who once said she would not run against incumbent Mayor Jean Quan, has changed her mind and will seek the city’s top office in November.
At the news conference, held at the trash strewn corner of 92nd Avenue and International Boulevard, Kaplan pointed out that the city had approved money in the budget for blight clean-up but that the jobs had not been filled. She said she is different from the other candidates but acknowledged that some people may have already made commitments to others running for mayor. She said if that’s the case she understood, but asked that she be given consideration as their second choice in Oakland’s ranked choice system.
That sentiment was similar to her mayoral bid in 2010 when she and Quan each asked the other’s supporters for their number two vote on Oakland’s ranked choice ballot. The strategy turned out to be a successful effort to block candidate Don Perata, although Kaplan came up short in that race.
Kaplan also faced questions at the news conference that she is too nice, a criticism echoed in other news accounts. Kaplan said that she would be able to make the “tough decisions” as mayor and has voted on difficult issues before, such as her vote to keep police officers during a city budget battle a few years ago.
Regarding Oakland’s troubled police department. Kaplan said that officers who are over-worked and stressed out are more likely to make mistakes than those working at a fully staffed precinct. She would make proper staffing at OPD a high priority.
In the video, Kaplan says that the city “needs strong, stable leadership – for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs, and for a fresh start for our city.”
It remains to be seen how Kaplan’s entry into the race will be received by the city’s large LGBT community. Gay Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno, who supported Kaplan four years ago, is backing Quan this time. But judging from Kaplan’s Facebook page, a number of LGBT people have “liked” her announcement.
Kaplan enjoys high name recognition in Oakland, something that many of the mayoral candidates lack. A poll last November by the pro-business Jobs and Housing Coalition showed Kaplan leading the field with 26 percent – 6 points ahead of Quan and roughly 10 points ahead of San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf.
Other mayoral candidates include city Auditor Courtney Ruby, Oakland Port Commissioner Bryan Parker, and civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who used to be an ally of Quan’s but broke with her over the mayor’s handling of Occupy protesters three years ago.
Last month, Kaplan became engaged to her partner, Pamela Rosin, owner of Awakening Presence Somatic Counseling in San Francisco’s Castro district. Kaplan’s spokesman, Jason Overman, said a July 26 wedding is planned.