By Ashley Chambers
the Post News Group
Education leaders and local small business owners announced their support this week for Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan as their choice for Mayor of Oakland in the Nov. 4 election.
Kaplan, the frontrunner in Oakland’s mayoral election according to recent polls, has been dedicated herself to creating more jobs for Oaklanders, putting more Oakland residents on the police force and sponsoring city initiatives to strengthen the public school system.
< p>Community leaders, speaking at a press conference Wednesday, said they see Kaplan as an ideal candidate because she has a proven record working for housing rights, supporting local businesses and putting Oakland first.
“She has the courage and backbone to do it,” said Geoffrey Pete, owner of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle nightclub in Oakand. “Finally we can have a mayor who will advocate for all the people in Rebecca Kaplan.”
Dorothy King, owner of Everett & Jones BBQ restaurant in Jack London Square, said the city needs a mayor who will work to retain older businesses such as and attract new ones.
“I know she will not only work for small businesses, but she will work for people as far as retaining employment. She will provide help to retain housing and welcome new people to Oakland,” said King, whose business has been in Oakland for over 40 years.
Kaplan’s commitment to averting the displacement of Oakland residents resonated with educator and housing activist Lynette Neidhardt, a 30-year resident who almost lost her home during the recent foreclosure crisis.
“I want to vote for someone who was a previous housing rights attorney and knows the terrible ordeal this has put so many Oaklanders through,” said Neidhardt. “On the City Council, she’s fought to crack down on unjust foreclosures. And as mayor, she’ll expand affordable housing and fight displacement.”
Henry Hitz, executive director of Oakland Parents Together, added, “People are tired of being displaced; so many families are being pushed out of Oakland, and the school system is losing students all the time.”
Supporting Measure BB in her campaign, Kaplan also fought to include free bus passes for youth.
Chair of the Holy Names University Education Department Dr. Kimberly Mayfield-Lynch said Kaplan is the leader this community needs.
“What Rebecca knows about the parents of Oakland public schools is that they need to be gainfully employed,” she said, adding that Kaplan “is the only candidate willing to call for racial disparity studies so that she can directly address the underrepresentation of African Americans working in city-funded jobs.”
“Oakland doesn’t want to be San Francisco light,” said education and urban studies professor Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein.
“We’re happy with who we are, our diversity and our accomplishments. We want to build on that. And that’s what I think Rebecca stands for.
Kaplan thanked the speakers for their support. “Do not underestimate the power of people speaking up about what it is that we need and what it is that we can do,” she said.
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