Rebecca Kaplan resembles a politician that only the Bay Area could produce. She is a white, lesbian, Canadian, Stanford graduate, a former Green Party member and a civil rights attorney who seemingly came out of nowhere to be Oakland’s only citywide City Councilmember – and now, a mayoral candidate. Kaplan’s entire political career has been about beating the odds. She first ran for City Council in the year 2000. At that time, she ran against a powerful incumbent endorsed by President Bill Clinton. “I was 29. I had no money. Nobody had heard of me before and I was at the time a registered Green Party member, which is three percent of voter registration in Oakland,” Kaplan said of the experience. “I had no big financial backers. I ran against a 14-year incumbent that outspent me 21-1. I got 44 percent of the vote.” She lost the first race, but two years later she would win a seat on the A.C. Transit Board of Directors. After her seven-year stint on the transit board, she tried her luck at running for the At-Large City Council seat. To win the seat, she had to run against powerful state Sen. Don Perata’s former chief of staff. She ultimately got 62 percent of the vote. Her political success may be due to the fact that, “I don’t accept that any political machine controls the city.” Even as she is running for mayor, she doesn’t believe herself “to be running against anybody. As far as I am concerned I am running for Oakland.” Though she certainly has a unique perspective as a candidate, it is her Toronto upbringing that she touts as one of her major inspirations for Oakland. “Having grown up there, I feel that’s part of the reason why I see things being possible in Oakland that sometimes other people don’t seem to see,” Kaplan said. “I see how amazing the fundamentals are of what we have here and how much Oakland could be strong and thriving and economically successful with some changes that are actually achievable.” Among Kaplan’s mayoral goals will be to increase community policing, to create a policing system that doesn’t neglect minor crimes and to have the police department implement the “Compstat” program. She wants to increase the amount of public art within the city, to continue to implement Oakland’s Bicycle Master Plan and to ensure more pedestrian friendly roadways. As part of her mission, she wants to put more city services online, specifically the business permit process. She said that if the business permit process was online, “it would save money for the city. It would save time for local businesses. It would make us less annoying to local businesses, which will make more people want to open businesses in Oakland.” Kaplan said she wants to create a “311 system” for Oakland. If city residents dial the three-digit number on their phones, they will be instantly connected to all city services. Kaplan claims that, “With such a system, Oakland can better respond to the needs of the public, save money and provide residents with real information about where their tax dollars are going.” Still, it’s not just city services that need updating. “Our entire way of thinking need to be brought into this millennium,” she said. Kaplan’s biggest aspiration is to hire new blood at City Hall. Over the next few years, a whole host of city officials holding important positions in Oakland will be retiring. “… If we fill those positions in the right way – and really recruit the best and the brightest people really devoted to doing this kind of public work – we will be able to make a big difference on the impact of the lives of people throughout the community.” Kaplan said she wants a vibrant retail community near the Oakland Coliseum. She said that whenever there is a Raider, Warrior or Athletics game, 50,000 people come to Oakland and don’t drop a dime in the city. If the area around the coliseum had a thriving retail center, it could give Oakland much needed revenue. Though Kaplan has big dreams, she said she doesn’t believe there is a magic solution to Oakland’s problems. “This (fixing Oakland) is going to take the effort of a lot of people. These people will work if there is appropriate leadership, a vision set and plans put in place.” Kaplan said she is that leadership.