Rebecca Kaplan

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Rebecca Kaplan
Rebecca Kaplan in July 2010.jpg
City Councilmember At-Large, Oakland, California
Assumed office
January 2009
Preceded byHenry Chang, Jr.[1]
Member at-Large and Vice-President, Alameda – Contra Costa Transit Board
In office
Personal details
Rebecca Dawn Kaplan

(1970-09-17) September 17, 1970 (age 50)
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materMIT
Tufts University
Stanford Law School
OccupationCivil rights attorney[1][2]
WebsiteKaplan for Oakland

Rebecca Dawn Kaplan (born September 17, 1970)[citation needed] is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party. She currently serves as City Councilmember At-Large for Oakland, California[2][3] and finished second in the race for Oakland mayor in the November 2014 election.[4] She previously ran for Oakland mayor in 2010 and placed third.[5]

Career in elected office[edit]

Oakland City Councilmember At-Large[edit]

Kaplan's contributions to Oakland policy making have included a focus on budget balancing measures, legislation which eased the permit process for new restaurants, creating a new public transit line downtown, and re-working and passing a law which mandates registration of abandoned and vacant buildings.[citation needed]

Kaplan also championed the Vacant Parcel Tax in Oakland in an effort to resolve Oakland's growing homeless problem. The tax is levied on Oakland's property owners with unused and vacant residential & commercial properties.

Budget-balancing measures[edit]

In 2009, Oakland's budget shortfall ran into the tens of millions, and as a solution, Kaplan proposed Measure F, which raised taxes on medical cannabis businesses.[citation needed] The measure, which dramatically increased taxes on these businesses, was strongly supported by the businesses themselves.[citation needed] Kaplan received national media attention from this initiative, appearing on PBS's NewsHour and Fox Business Network to discuss it.[citation needed] The measure passed overwhelmingly in a special election.[citation needed] Three other ballot measures, also campaigned for by Kaplan, were passed in a successful effort to balance the year's budget.[citation needed]

Vacant building registration[edit]

Also in 2009, Kaplan re-designed a failed City Council measure which would require owners of certain vacant properties to register their buildings with the city.[citation needed] Oakland's vacancy problem had led to rampant use of empty buildings for illegal activities, and earlier in the year, Councilmember Desley Brooks had attempted to pass similar legislation, which had been voted down due to unclear language and an overly aggressive[citation needed] fine regime. Kaplan re-wrote the measure with a simpler scope, and was able to pass it by a wide margin of support.[citation needed]

Cutting ties with ICE[edit]

On August 2017, two Oakland police officers provided traffic assistance to ICE agents as Homeland Security Investigations served a federal search warrant in West Oakland regarding a human trafficking investigation that involves children[6] leading to the detainment of two men, neither ever having been convicted or charged with a crime.[7] Fearing that residents would experience a chilling effect from the incident and would be less willing to call on police for support, Kaplan proposed a resolution upholding the city's sanctuary city status by stipulating that the Oakland Police Department be prevented from colluding and assisting with ICE.[8] According to a statement from Kaplan, " The head of ICE has made public statements that have helped make it more clear that ICE is not actually focusing on solving serious and violent crime, but is focused on being part of (President Donald) Trump's political vendetta."[7] Co-sponsored by Councilwoman Desley Brooks, the resolution passed city council unanimously.[7]

Oakland Athletics[edit]

In the fall of 2019, as a member of the Oakland City Council, Kaplan contributed to an effort to sue Alameda County over the approved $85 million sale of the land currently housing the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Oakland Arena to the Oakland Athletics.[9] The city argued it wasn’t given a real opportunity to buy the County’s share of the land, despite Oakland not having adequate money to purchase the site.[10] This is broadly seen as an attempt to derail the Oakland Athletic's plan to construct a privately financed new stadium at the Howard Terminal site that would keep the Athletics in the San Francisco Bay Area. The plan the Athletics put forward includes major revitalization projects at both the Howard Terminal and Coliseum sites, including the construction of affordable housing, restaurants, retail, small business space and public gathering spaces.[11]

Due to the abrupt nature of the lawsuit and the fact that the plan was backed by city leaders, A’s President Dave Kaval said that the team was “completely blindsided” and “very disappointed” by the city’s lawsuit.[9] Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who said she hopes the city “suspends” the suit, stated “Our city and county governments should work with each other, not against each other, I hope the council suspends this suit so we can all collaborate together on a beneficial future for the Coliseum."[9] Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid stated that Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of Baseball, told Oakland leaders that “Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A’s as well.”[10] A few weeks after the lawsuit was filed, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two bills, AB1191 and SB293, designed to move the new Howard Terminal ballpark forward.

Election history[edit]

In November 2008, Kaplan won her current post in a run-off election against BART executive Kerry Hamill[1] by a margin of 62% to 37%, with Kaplan receiving a total of 82,531 votes to Hamill's 50,387.[citation needed] She succeeded Henry Chang, Jr., against whom Kaplan had campaigned unsuccessfully in 2000.[2]

Kaplan previously served as the Member At-Large on the Alameda – Contra Costa Transit Board of Directors, elected unopposed in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.[2] In this post, she represented 1.5 million residents[2] of western Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

In 2000 Kaplan ran for Oakland city council registered with the Green Party,[12] an affiliation held until she switched to the Democratic Party in 2008.[13]

In April 2010 Kaplan formed a campaign committee to explore running for Oakland mayor.[14][15] In the November election Kaplan placed third in ranked choice balloting after winner Jean Quan and runner-up Don Perata.[5]

Kaplan ran again for Oakland mayor in 2014, coming in second in the ranked choice ballot to councilwoman Libby Schaaf.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Kaplan is bisexual,[17] and has been identified as a lesbian in the press.[18]


  1. ^ a b c Heredia, Christopher (October 14, 2008). "Oakland runoff: old guard vs. outsider". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Oakland school board member Kerry Hamill faces AC Transit board member Rebecca Kaplan ... to replace incumbent Councilman Henry Chang Jr., who served 14 years in the citywide seat.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bajko, Matthew S. (February 28, 2008). "Bi woman runs for Oakland city council". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  3. ^ Johnson, Chip (January 22, 2010). "Tactics against big Prop. 8 backer go too far". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Rebecca Kaplan, the at-large member of the City Council, and a lesbian...
  4. ^ Melena Ryzik (2014-07-30). "A Long Slate of Mayoral Candidates Hints at a Rapidly Changing Oakland". New York Times.
  5. ^ a b Gammon, Robert (2010-11-10). "Breaking News: Jean Quan Wins Mayor'S Race". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  6. ^ "Human trafficking probe leads to federal search warrant at West Oakland home". 16 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Oakland cuts ties with ICE in response to controversial raid". East Bay Times. 2018-01-17. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  8. ^ "Oakland City Council Passes Kaplan's Resolution to Cut Ties with ICE". Oakland Post. 2018-01-19. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  9. ^ a b c Matier, Phil; Ravani, Sarah (1 October 2019). "Oakland's curveball: City sues county over plans to sell Coliseum site to the A's". San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ a b Becker, Jon (6 October 2019). "Report: MLB commissioner warns Oakland it could lose A's". The Mercury News.
  11. ^ "A's plans for Howard Terminal ballpark, Oakland Coliseum project". NBC Sports Bay Area. 1 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Why We Run". 2000-02-01. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  13. ^ "Rebecca Kaplan on switching parties". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  14. ^ "Oakland Councilmember Kaplan forms mayoral campaign committee". 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  15. ^ "Rebecca Kaplan: Why Did She Enter the Race for Mayor of Oakland? Exclusive, in-depth interview" (Interview). Archived from the original on April 27, 2010.
  16. ^ "Oakland's next mayor: Libby Schaaf unseats Jean Quan". 6 November 2014.
  17. ^ Naomi Tucker, Liz Highleyman, & Rebecca Kaplan. Bisexual Politics, Queries, Theories & Visions. New York: Haworth, 1995, p. xvii
  18. ^ Elinson, Zusha (2010-10-09). "Lesbian Candidate for Oakland Mayor Gains Surprise Allies". The New York Times.

External links[edit]