Kaplan, De La Fuente Focus On Increasing Public Safety At First Public Face-Off

PHOTO/Shane Bond

ELECTION ‘12//OAKLAND COUNCIL//AT-LARGE | Sometimes highly-anticipated prize fights start with both contenders hopping around the ring and no punches thrown. A feeling-out process until the fisticuffs begin. Well, hopefully, that is.

In the first face-to-face meeting on the campaign trail for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council Wednesday, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, the current holder of the seat and Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, both stuck repeatedly to well-honed talking points surely to be heard from here to November.

Kaplan, De La Fuente.
PHOTO/Shane Bond

“We’ll succeed when we get the jobs in, and the guns out,” Kaplan told the sparsely-attended forum at the Kaiser Auditorium. Kaplan repeated slightly different riffs on the themes of reinvigorating Oakalnd’s economic engine, in part, by taming its stubbornly high crime rate.

The forum, sponsored by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce also featured candidates Carol Lee Tolbert, a former Oakland school board member, and business owner Theresa Anderson-Downs. The event, though, lacked any of the increasingly volatile exchanges found recently at city council meetings. Both Kaplan and De La Fuente kept it disarmingly cordial.

De La Fuente, who chose not to run for re-election after 20 years in his District 5 seat including the Fruitvale District in favor of challenging Kaplan, consistently addressed his embrace of public safety. However, some critics charge his support in the past for police layoffs belies a different story when it comes to his stance for safer streets. “All the rhetoric in the world isn’t going to stop people dying in the streets,” said De La Fuente. “What we are facing on the streets of Oakland is priority number one.”

On the issue of the city’s professional sports teams, Kaplan and De La Fuente differed, if not, in terms of their priorities for retaining the A’s, Raiders and Warriors in Oakland, with Kaplan being more optimistic. “Let’s face it, the A’s don’t know the way to San Jose,” said Kaplan, and adding the current Coliseum City proposal will bring shop owners, bars and restaurants to the city along with fans and conventioneers to the area, said Kaplan, while also creating jobs.

De La Fuente was less sanguine saying he would only turn his attention to the Coliseum once crime in Oakland is sufficiently quelled. “I learned from my mistakes,” he said, referring to the botched return of the Raiders in 1995. “They are in the business of making money,” De La Fuente said, believing the public sector should no longer have a role in financing stadiums.

For two of the biggest names in Oakland politics, both Kaplan and De La Fuente appeared nervous before Wednesday night’s forum. While the other candidates were speaking, De La Fuente was seen on numerous occasions seemingly entranced in deep thought while rhythmically rubbing and gripping his hands near his face.

There is no doubt the stakes are high in this race. Kaplan, one of the city’s more popular council members and viewed as a rising star in local politics, would certainly diminish her stature by being unseated. Many also speculate De La Fuente will use the at-large seat, if gained this November, as a springboard for the office he most covets—mayor in 2014.

The field’s far lesser known candidates, particularly Anderson-Downs, sounded a far more contradictory tone to the more experienced and nuanced platforms of the two sitting council members, who stood firmly for increasing the city’s police force. On numerous occasions, Anderson-Downs advocated the opposite, saying the focus should be on children and schools rather than adding officers and increasing their benefits.

Tolbert said her top priorities included public safety, development and focusing on public schools. When she advocated for attracting big box stores to Oakland, however, one member of the audience unleashed a loud hiss. A fifth candidate for the at-large seat, Mick Storm, did not attend Wednesday’s event.

Categories: Athletics, coliseum, Oakland, Oakland City Council, police, Raiders, Rebecca Kaplan, Warriors

8 replies

  1. Kaplan is an apoligist for the pot club industry and she is anti-cop. Go De La Fuente!


  2. Let's not forget that De La Crook is an infamous for his FBI investigations for what most know are his kickback requirements. What a contract with the City of Oakland and need De La Fuente's support pay/hire/do his daughter. You will get it.


  3. DeLaFuente is a crook. Anyone who has had to deal with him knows that the only thing he cares about is kickbacks. All of the vendors particularly those that are Hispanic go to him to get lucrative contracts with the city of Oakland. Getting a contract in Oakland is all in who you know and pay off. DeLaFuente also put his incompetent Hispanic friends in jobs at the Port of Oakland. Do not vote for him. Vote out all of the incumbents on election day.


  4. Kaplan is a clown. Plain and simple. Ignacio is Perata-lite. But given what we've gotten with the Quan circus and the anti-police sentiment of Kaplan…Yuck – I'm disgusted that these are our only two legit choices. I get that Tagami stands a ton to lose (financially) for getting into elected politics but he would be the BEST for Oakland.


  5. Kaplan is the best choice.


  6. Oakland continues it's self-destructive behavior by supporting such incompetent, self-serving, liberal minded individuals in their quest to obtain and maintain power. None of these candidates care about you or your safety. They only care about being in office for the power and influence they can gain. Do any of you really think they can stop the violence in Oakland? Do any of you really think they can clean up Oakland's image? At least Dela Fuente realizes the mistake of using taxes to bring and keep the Raiders in Oakland. At least he realizes that you can't talk Oakland's thugs into being nice. Sure, Kaplan take all the guns in Oakland and all the violence will be gone. Get real. Kaplan's anti-police stance will do nothing but keep the crime going upward. Get real people. Government is not the solution unless you want to bring in the National Guard to patrol the streets. If not, your other choice is move out.


  7. De La Crook consultants are hard at work today trying to portray their corrupt candidate as a clean person.


  8. Kaplan says that “we'll succeed when we get jobs in and guns out.” Translation: “We're stuck as a failing city. I have no idea how to increase jobs and eliminate guns.”


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