Last year was the first time in over a decade that Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan had not running for some kind of office, be it re-election or two runs for mayor. But 2019 is shaping up like old times for Kaplan, who was unanimously elected by her colleagues Monday as Oakland City Council president.
Quoting Scripture beforehand, Kaplan thanked the new council inaugurated Monday for their support, while striking a collaborative chord.
“We have many challenges. We must acknowledge injustice and prejudice exist and we need leaders to assure we work together to move our city forward,” said Kaplan. “I believe in giving all Councilmembers the opportunity to affect change, and all council members will have an opportunity to chair a committee. I look forward to working together in coalition with community to advance Oakland’s vital needs.”
Among the reforms Kaplan hopes to enact is changes to how ceremonial items are handled during council meetings. The consistently large number of ceremonial items has becoming a growing problem and constant gripe among Oakland council-goers.
Even though, Oakland council meetings start at 5:30 p.m., ceremonial awards and proclamations often push pressing city business and lengthy agenda items to begin hours later.
The elevation of Kaplan to lead the council is likely to present a foil for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Over the years, the rivalry between the top Oakland officials has been contentious, but within the bounds of decency, unlike that between Schaaf and the now-departed Desley Brooks.
Kaplan is also likely to have a strong new ally on the council after the elected last November of her former chief of staff Sheng Thao to the District 4 council seat.
Kaplan takes over the gavel from long-time District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid.