Kaplan, Taplin lead in East Bay council races

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 4, 2020
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Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Kaplan
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Kaplan

Lesbian Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan had a strong lead in her bid for a fourth term in the city's at-large council seat against her gay opponent, Derreck Johnson, based on the ranked-choice voting results released to the Bay Area Reporter Wednesday afternoon.

And in Berkeley, gay political newcomer Terry Taplin was also in a commanding first place position in the race for the city council's District 2 seat against the incumbent, Councilwoman Cheryl Davila, who was in second, based on the unofficial ranked-choice voting returns.

In Alameda, gay City Councilman Jim Oddie lost his bid for reelection. He landed in fourth place with 19.01% of the vote in the contest for two seats on the council.

Meanwhile in Livermore, professional photographer and branding consultant Brittni Kiick, a married mother of two who identifies as pansexual, is winning her bid for the city's newly created District 3 council seat. She finished first in the two-person contest with 61.38% of the vote.

Lambda Democratic Club of Contra Costa County President Devin Murphy, the first Black person to lead the LGBTQ political club, Tuesday became the second gay man to win election to the Pinole City Council. His victory — Murphy took first place with 54.01% - had been expected, as just two people filed to seek the two council seats up this year, but their races were on the November 3 ballot due to voters being able to write in a different choice.

Moraga Town Council Member Renata Sos, who lives in the city with her wife, took first place with 27.12% of the vote in the race for three seats on the governing body. She won a full term after being appointed to her seat in 2018 following the death of council member Jeanette Fritzky.

Lance Kwan, a gay man who is president of the South Alameda County Young Democrats, appears to have won a seat on the Ohlone College Board in Area 2. He came in third with 20.39% in the race for three seats on the oversight body for the community college.

In Berkeley, Andy Kelley, a gay man, and Xavier Johnson, who is queer, are headed to be seated on the city's rent stabilization board. Kelley was in second place with 12.38% of the vote in the contest for five rent board seats, and Johnson was close behind in third with 12.03%.

Lucy Shen, a nonbinary candidate for Fremont Board of Education, was in second place in their contest for the body's Area 5 seat. Shen, who had been the target of transphobic anonymous attacks on Twitter, had 34.28% of the vote, according to the unofficial returns Wednesday. The first place finisher, Vivek Prasad, was leading with 36.17% of the vote.

In San Ramon, 21-year-old Sameera Rajwade, who is nonbinary, fell short in their bid for the newly created District 3 seat on the City Council. They landed in fourth place with 11.51% of the vote.

And Carolyn Wysinger, president of the board that oversees San Francisco Pride, failed to win her bid for the District 5 seat on the West Contra Costa Unified School District board. She was in third with 25.69% of the vote, based on unofficial returns.

As no one ran against them, a quartet of out incumbents was automatically reelected in the East Bay this year. They are gay city councilmen John Bauters of Emeryville and Ken Carlson of Pleasant Hill; lesbian BART board member Rebecca Saltzman, who represents the transit agency's District 3 covering parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties; and gay Richmond resident Cesar Zepeda, who had been appointed to a vacancy on the board of the West County Wastewater District and will now serve a full four-year term.

Berkeley City Council candidate Terry Taplin  

Oakland, Berkeley races
Last week, Kaplan received a major boost and a burst of news coverage with a late endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) of her candidacy. Her challenger, Johnson, was a political newcomer who had the support of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Senator Kamala Harris (California), the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Kaplan was at 52.56% and Johnson was in second with 47.44% after the county elections department tabulated the second choice votes of the 6,468 people who chose third place finisher, Nancy Sidebotham, as their first pick. But with more ballots to count, Kaplan had yet to declare victory by the B.A.R.'s press deadline.

Schaaf had defeated Kaplan in the 2014 mayoral race and the former City Council colleagues have often been at odds over policy and personnel issues ever since. Johnson, 55, is an Oakland native and opened Home of Chicken and Waffles in the city's waterfront Jack London Square district in 2004. He lost ownership of the business, however, something he was forced to admit after the news site Oaklandside dug up his bankruptcy records and other court documents.

Kaplan, 49, is currently the sole LGBTQ community member on Oakland's council and one of only a handful of out women currently serving on a city council in the Bay Area. She and her former wife, Pamela Rosin, separated in 2018 and finalized their divorce last year.

In Berkeley, author and poet Taplin set out to defeat Davila as he was upset with her ousting from office in 2016 gay former City Councilman Darryl Moore, one of the few out Black elected officials in the Bay Area. The two had a falling out over whether the city should divest from Israel due to its treatment of Palestinians.

Having grown up in West Berkeley and living there the last two years with his husband, psychiatric nurse Andrew Godar, Taplin decided to enter the race, one of three people who took on the incumbent. He was in first place with 62.58% percent of the vote after three rounds of ranked-choice voting, according to the unofficial returns. Davila was in second with 37.42% of the vote.

As for Moore, he now lives in Manassas Park, Virginia and was leading in his race Tuesday to be elected to that city's council.

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