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Rebecca Kaplan
Candidate for Oakland City Council (at-large seat in March 2000)

Information appearing in The New Reactor,Vol 10, No. 1: Jan-Feb. 2000.

Interview for New Reactor by Barri Boone (

What is your experience in reacting to chemicals?
I have medium-grade environmental illness/MCS. This started in 1992-93, when I was exposed for an extended period of time to highly concentrated carpet glue. I have allergy-like reactions to perfume, incense, aerosol sprays, ammonia, and products such as Lysol and Windex and most toxic cleaning products. I keep my home toxin-free, and avoid exposures whenever possible

. What kind of legal fights have you participated in, with folks exposed to toxic chemicals?
I am a licensed attorney focusing on public interest law. The areas of law that I have worked on include tenants rights, civil rights, labor union law, and workplace hazards. I have worked on cases brought by people who were injured by exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, as well as assisting in cases to reduce hazardous chemical content (such as lead) in general consumer products.

Why did you decide to run for office?
I have been a community activist and policy advocate for my entire adult life, and see running for office as a continuation of my commitment to working to bring about social justice, economic equity and ecological sustainability. I have training and experience in issues of law and policy.

My educational background includes a Bachelor¼s from MIT (psychology/women¼s studies), a Master¼s in Urban and Environmental Policy (Tufts University) and JD (law) from Stanford. I have worked in a variety of government and policy settings, including the city of Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women, and the Oakland field office of the California State Assembly. As a result, I am well prepared for the challenges and opportunities of serving the people of Oakland on our city council.

I decided to run for city council because the people of Oakland want and deserve council people who put the needs and well-being of the people of Oakland ahead of their own economic interests ã who do not „sell¾ their votes to the highest bidder. We need council people who will work for social, economic, and environmental justice. For example, the only commercial medical waste incinerator operating in the entire state of California is located in a low-income neighborhood of Oakland. This incinerator, which was not tolerated in more affluent, mostly-white areas, continues to spew dioxin, mercury, and other dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, asthma, and other illnesses. I will work to shut down the incinerators, and replace them with safer technologies (such as auto clave).

Oakland is also facing a housing crisis, and a potential future in which only the wealthy could afford to live here. I will work to preserve affordable housing, including efforts to ensure that Oakland¼s core work force can afford to live in Oakland. When teachers, nurses, firefighters and government workers with stable jobs cannot afford the housing, the future of a city is in danger. I will work to ensure that our housing policies includes meeting the needs of middle-income Oakland workers, and will enact „just cause for eviction¾ to ensure that people who have lived here for years don¼t need to worry that they could lose their homes at any moment, for no reason.

Oakland spends millions of dollars every year on expensive boondoggle projects (such as the Oakland Raiders) while school buildings and other core infrastructure falls apart from neglect. I do not accept corporate contributions, and will work to ban campaign contributions from those seeking or receiving city contracts, to avoid competing loyalties in government decision-making. I will devote myself full-time to the work of the city council, and will bring an intelligent, creative, energetic, coalition-building approach to any challenges we face.

Why in the Green Party?
When I first turned 18, I was happy to register as a Democrat, and I volunteered on Democratic campaigns. I thought that the Democratic Party did and would continue to be the voice for the issues I believed in, including worker rights, protecting the environment, and equality for everyone. I am still working for those values, but much of the Democratic leadership has abandoned them. I want to support and be part of a party that will work for health care for everyone, ensuring that our children will have clean air to breathe and water to drink, and protect the dignity and equality of people of all races, sexual orientations, genders, religions, and abilities. The Green Party is working for all of these things, and will continue to do so. It is also the fastest growing party, as more and more people realize that we need to make the needs of the people and the planet a priority, and challenge the ever-growing corporate control of our lives. I am proud to be involved with the Green Party, and have explained the party platform in more detail on my website.

(Visit and click on „Why Green?¾).

What is your program on health care and issues relating to folks with EI/MCS?
I am a strong believer in the need for universal single-payer healthcare, modeled after the Canadian system. As long as health care is run by corporations for private profit, we will continue to see the downward spiral of less and less care, while paying more and more money. Having decent health care should not depend on being wealthy, nor should it be restricted to people who stay in a certain job, or marriage. At the local level, ensuring access to health care includes opposing hospital mergers and closures, and promoting more neighborhood health clinics.

In terms of issues specific to EI/MCS, I will work actively to pass an ordinance to eliminate the use of toxic and allergenic substances in government buildings. This includes eliminating many of the hazardous chemicals used in schools, which are contributing to an epidemic level of childhood asthma. The city should convert to nontoxic cleaning products, and avoid the use of hazardous building materials. Oakland city hall already has a sign asking people to avoid wearing perfumed products, and I would increase public education around the need for awareness of EI/MCS issues, so that more people will understand and abide by that request. I will work actively to eliminate any barriers to full participation in our city government by people with EI/MCS and other disabilities.

How can we get more information about your full program and election?
The election will be on March 7th, 2000. The deadline to register to vote is February 6th. (To vote for Rebecca, you can be registered in any part of Oakland). The campaign is now going full steam, and needs to reach many people in the next two months. There are many ways you can help:

  • Tell everyone you know (who lives in Oakland) to vote for Rebecca Kaplan on March 7th. (Contact the campaign office if you want literature to share with people).
  • Contact the campaign headquarters to volunteer for precinct work, phonebanking, etc.
  • Host a „House Party¾ at your home, at which you invite a group of people (friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, members of any club or organization you are involved in, etc) to meet the candidate and support the campaign. (Interested? Contact the campaign office).
  • Send money. Although this is a grassroots, volunteer-oriented campaign, it does cost money to print flyers and keep the phones going. Anything you can send would be helpful. Make your checks out to „Rebecca at Large¾ and mail them to P.O. Box 17002, Oakland, CA 94601. Please include your name, address, employer, and occupation. (Contributions are limited to $500 per donor). Thanks!
CAMPAIGN CONTACT INFORMATION Rebecca at Large: The Committee to Elect Rebecca Kaplan Oakland City Council, at-large seat in March 2000.

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In Support of Rebecca Kaplan

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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. EHN brings you topics on this page that need your immediate attention The URL for this page is