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    We’re With You All the Way, Gavin

    SFBT_MarriageEquality_1When people talk about the different levels of government, they usually know about their local government, such as their City and/or County, and also that we have State and Federal governments. However, here in the Bay Area, we also have very important and powerful decisions being made at the Bay Area Regional level.

    We have an agency, called the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which has power over air pollution and related issues for our entire region. And, it makes sense to work on the Bay Area as a whole, because our region’s problems, like traffic congestion and air pollution, and even our housing crisis—are issues that impact the whole Bay Area and will be better solved if each city isn’t left to try to figure it out separately.

    The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) works on a range of important laws, programs, and grants to improve our health and the quality of our air for our region, such as the “cash for clunkers” program that helps take older, heavily-polluting cars off the road and gives people money to turn them in. BAAQMD also has the power to pass laws to protect hard-hit communities from asthma and other health impacts caused by concentrations of air pollution, such as those around oil refineries.

    For decades, our communities have been under-represented in this important level of government. While the Board of BAAQMD is made up of elected officials from throughout the Bay Area, Oakland had not had a seat on this Board in 25 years, and our large and growing Bay Area LGBT community has been under-represented. Now the good news: I have successfully been appointed as a member of this vital Board, and can help improve the air we breathe, better connect our public transit, reduce truck idling and traffic congestion, and help limit the toxins emitted by oil refineries.

    By strengthening the representation of Oakland, of diverse communities, and of a positive vision for a healthy future for our region, we can make a real difference in people’s lives. The position I won represents all the cities of Alameda County, and is chosen by the Alameda County Conference of Mayors.

    I deeply appreciate the support and confidence of my colleagues—Mayors representing all the cities of Alameda County—to hold this role and work to improve our region. In my short time thus far on the Board, I have successfully moved forward efforts ranging from launching the work to cap refinery pollution, to funding the free Broadway Shuttle that connects vital regional transportation (ferry, BART, Amtrak and AC Transit) with growing centers in Jack London Square, downtown Oakland, and beyond.

    We are advancing projects to get truck pollution out of hard-hit communities, and to reduce congestion on our freeways. The air we breathe, and the need for it to be healthy, can be part of what unites us as a region, as we work to build a better Bay Area.

    Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Councilmember Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.