by Matthew S. Bajko
The statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California has endorsed three lesbian candidates running in Oakland races this fall.
It announced Friday that it had endorsed BART board member Rebecca Saltzman in her re-election bid for the District 3 seat on the regional transit agency’s oversight body. The seat covers all or parts of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington, Lafayette, Moraga, Oakland, Orinda, Piedmont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and unincorporated areas of Alameda and Contra Costa County.
And EQCA’s political action committee also disclosed it had dual-endorsed in the race for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council. It split its support between the incumbent, Rebecca Kaplan, and her opponent Peggy Moore.
Saltzman, who lives in Oakland with her wife, Caitlin , was first elected to the BART board in 2012. Her seat encompasses the stations at Bay Fair, Downtown Berkeley, El Cerrito del Norte (partial), El Cerrito Plaza (partial), North Berkeley, Orinda, Rockridge, and San Leandro.
She is running against three men this fall: Ken Chew , a senior transportation engineer; web programmer Worth Freeman; and Varun Paul , a process improvement consultant. Chew has mounted a strong campaign, raised a significant amount of money and earned the endorsement of the East Bay Times, whose editorial board has been a vocal critic of the current BART leadership and opposes the bond measure the transit agency placed on the November ballot to raise $3.5 billion to upgrade its infrastructure.
In its endorsement announcement of Saltzman, EQCA noted how she has worked on a number of LGBT-focused initiatives, including creating a BART Police policy to improve interactions with transgender riders, partnering with the East Bay Stonewall Democrats to expand service during San Francisco Pride, and making BART restrooms gender neutral.
“Rebecca is committed to increasing the accessibility and environmental sustainability of BART, while ensuring it continues to serve the expanding Bay Area,” stated EQCA, adding that, “if re-elected, she is committed to continuing measures to provide better services to the LGBT community and everyone.”
Saltzman is one of two LGBT BART board members. Her colleague, Tom Radulovich, a gay man who represents San Francisco on the board, is not seeking re-election this year.
EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur told the Bay Area Reporter Friday that the PAC does not plan to endorse a candidate in the race for Radulovich’s District 9 seat. Gay former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is running against gay muckraker Michael Petrelis and Gwyneth Borden , a straight woman and former planning commissioner who is the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s executive director, in that contest.
Oakland council race
In the Oakland council race, Kaplan is vying for a third four-year term, having lost her second bid to become the East Bay city’s mayor in 2014. She is one of two members of the LGBT community currently serving on the council.
Moore, whose given name is Margaret, earlier this year had taken a leave of absence as a special adviser to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf , who defeated Kaplan two years ago and is supporting Moore in the race, to work on Hillary Clinton ‘s presidential bid as the political director for California. She announced her council bid just days prior to the deadline to do so in early August.
Also in the race are Matt Hummel , chair of Oakland’s cannabis regulatory commission; civil rights attorney and law professorBruce Quan ; and perennial council candidate Nancy Sidebotham.
Oakland voters can rank their top three choices in City Council races, and EQCA’s PAC did consider whether to issue ranked endorsements for Moore and Kaplan. But Zbur told the B.A.R. that it decided both were well-qualified candidates and would leave it to voters to decide how to rank the two women on their ballots.
“In this race, what we realized is we had two excellent candidates. It was consistent with our philosophy of local endorsements to do a dual endorsement,” said Zbur. “Both are strong in their own exceptional ways. Peggy Moore has been an LGBT activist for many years and Rebecca Kaplan has been a trailblazer in Oakland.”
He added that EQCA has issued dual endorsements in local races in the past, as it did in a recent West Hollywood contest.
“We wanted to signal to our members they are two strong candidates,” he said. “We are hoping they will on their own rank them one or two.”
In its endorsement announcement, EQCA noted that Kaplan was the first out lesbian ever elected to office in Oakland and has served on its City Council for the last eight years. While in office, the organization praised her for fighting for funding for LGBT youth, working with grassroots organizations to launch Oakland Pride, and encouraging the development of LGBT-owned businesses in downtown Oakland.
“She has a long history of fighting for LGBT civil rights, campaigning against both of California’s anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives, Proposition 22 in 2000 and Proposition 8 in 2008,” stated EQCA.
As for Moore, the news release pointed to her working as the East Bay field director of the No on 22 Campaign in 2000, as well as serving as the former president of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club and founder of the Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride lesbian march, for 10 years Oakland’s largest women’s event.
“Moore is dedicated to enhancing the visibility and civil rights of Oakland’s LGBT community and communities of color, as well as creating a vibrant and livable city for all Oakland residents,” stated EQCA.
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