There are plenty of important races and issues on the ballot in the East Bay. Here are our endorsements for Berkeley and Oakland
Two strong progressive challengers are taking him on. Our first choice is Rebecca Kaplan, an at-large City Council member who is full of great, innovative ideas for Oakland. She wants to enforce an Oakland-first hiring law, work on transit-oriented development, and encourage small businesses that can attract some of the $2 billion a year Oakland loses in retail sales from local residents who shop out of town.
Kaplan told us she thinks that if Proposition 19 passes and local government has the right to regulate legal marijuana, Oakland is perfectly situated to take advantage of the new law. By combining pot sales and possibly on-site consumption with new restaurants, bike lanes, and street-level amenities, the city could revitalize neighborhoods and bring in significant new tax revenue.
She's a big bicycle advocate, would consider a progressive city income tax, and is a strong supporter of public power. She also has a practical sense of how to solve problems.
Jean Quan has been active in Oakland politics for decades. She served 12 years on the school board, eight on the City Council, and has the experience, skills, and vision to run the city. She's also almost tied in the polls with Perata, despite being outspent dramatically (and being the subject of some nasty, inaccurate Perata hit pieces). She told us she wants to be a cheerleader for the public schools, to work with local businesses, expand the high school internship program, and add city wrap-around services to public schools. She's had a long, impressive record on environmental issues (she worked with San Francisco on a plastic bag ban and wrote Oakland's Styrofoam ban). She recognizes that much of the city's budget problem comes from the police department and police pensions. But she's a little less aggressive than Kaplan about raising new revenue, and while she fully supports Prop. 19 and the Oakland plan for allowing commercial marijuana operations, she is, in her own words, "relatively conservative" on how far Oakland should go to allow sales and use in the city.
Kaplan's got more of the cutting-edge progressive vision. Quan's got more experience and a longer track record. They're the two choices to beat Perata and save Oakland's future, and we're happy that ranked-choice voting allows us to endorse them both.
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL
Patricia Kernighan is among the most conservative votes on the council. She's also representing a wealthy, conservative hills district and will be hard to beat. We're endorsing Jennifer Pae, community outreach director for the East Bay Voter Education Consortium. She has the backing of progressives like Supervisor Keith Carson and Berkeley City Council Member Kriss Worthington (as well as the Alameda County Green Party). She's a long shot, but better than the incumbent.
The front-runners in this race are probably Libby Schaaf, a former aide to Ignacio de la Fuente; Melanie Shelby, a small business owner; and Daniel Swafford, a business consultant. Schaaf is too close to her old boss. We liked Shelby, but she's awfully vague on solutions to Oakland's problems — and she voted for Prop. 8. She now says her position on same-sex marriage is "evolving," and she supports equal rights for all couples. But that's an awfully big issue to have taken an awfully wrong stand on just two years ago.
This leaves Swafford, a neighborhood activist who grew up in Oakland and was City Council Member Jean Quan's appointee to the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council and is a strong advocate of community policing. He gets the nod.