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Kaplan seeks Bay Area transit job

by Matthew S. Bajko

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is applying to lead the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is applying to lead the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

Lesbian at-large Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is seeking to be hired to lead the Bay Area's regional transportation agency, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

Last week, Steve Heminger revealed he intends to step down as executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on February 28, 2019. It will mark the end of a two-decade-long run leading the agency, which oversees planning and financing of transit projects throughout the region's nine counties.

Governed by a board comprised of 21 appointed officials representing cities, counties, and transportation and planning agencies around the Bay Area, the oversight body for the MTC will conduct a search to hire Heminger's successor. MTC Chair and Rohnert Park City Councilman Jake Mackenzie, along with six other MTC members, will serve on the committee that will guide the selection process.

Kaplan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the B.A.R. late Monday afternoon. As she noted on her resume for the MTC job, Kaplan has several decades worth of experience addressing transportation issues.

"Many years of experience in transportation, including; policy-making, project conceptualization and implementation, and developing multi-jurisdictional transportation projects and programs, including work at the Bay regional level (and county)," noted Kaplan.

Prior to winning her seat on the Oakland council, Kaplan spent seven years as an elected member of the board that oversees the AC Transit District, which provides bus service in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

After joining the Oakland City Council in 2009, Kaplan helped oversee the merger of the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority with the Congestion Management Agency to create the Alameda County Transportation Commission. For the last nine years she has represented Oakland on the county transit planning body and served as its immediate past chair.

She served for two years, from 2011 to 2013, on the executive board of the Association of Bay Area Governments, which last year merged with the MTC and shares the same executive director. Kaplan also served on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board, between 2016 and earlier this year, working on such issues as the promotion of carpooling and better transit shuttle connections.

Between 2001 and 2002 Kaplan worked as the policy outreach director for the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, now known as Transform, where she advocated for an "environmentally sound and equitable" transit plan for the Bay Area region. And in 2000 she played a leading role in the crafting and passage of Measure B, Alameda County's sales tax for transportation.

Should she be hired to lead the MTC, Kaplan likely would have to resign from her Oakland council seat two years prior to when her current term ends. She was re-elected in 2016 to a four-year term that ends in early 2021.

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