Sophie Hahn announces run for Berkeley City Council

sophie hahn
Sophie Hahn/Courtesy

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If elected to the Berkeley City Council this fall, Sophie Hahn would like to be a voice for the community in city council in order to provide positive change to address the city’s basic needs.

Hahn, a current member of the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, announced on April 28 that she will be running against incumbent district five Councilmember Laurie Capitelli.

“I’m running to provide voters with more of the proactive, transparent, community-oriented leadership that shows itself in real results,” Hahn said. “Berkeley is a fantastic place to live in, but there isn’t enough progress in very basic things.”

Hahn said the city has a pattern of not doing long-range projecting for the city’s budget and financial issues and her goals will revolve around addressing these basic fiscal problems.

“One of my biggest goals is to address the economic reality that our city faces,” she said. “Second, (I hope) to share that information in a very up front, transparent way with all stakeholders in the community and third, to come up with a shared solution so everybody gives and gets.”

In addition to her role on the zoning board, Hahn is also a board member of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and the chair of the North Berkeley Committee of the Branch Libraries Capital Campaign, during which time she has helped raise funds to rebuild and refurnish the  library.

“In every activity that I’ve been involved in, I’ve proven over and over again that one person with good ideas, commitment, energy and courage can make a strong positive impact,” Hahn said. “That’s what I plan to bring to the city council: the ability to get things done.”

According to the city’s website, no other candidates to date besides Hahn have announced they will run against the council’s incumbent seats, although the official filing period for candidacy nomination paper runs from July 16 through Aug. 10.

Under Alameda County’s ranked-choice voting system — which was first used in Berkeley in November 2010 and allows voters to rank up to three candidates in order of their preference — a candidate will be elected if he or she receives a majority of first-choice votes, which Hahn will need to receive in order to be elected.

“I think she’s a very bright and capable person,” said Sara Shumer, a fellow zoning board member. “She’s very good at listening to different sides of an argument … all of which I think are important for a city council member.”

Capitelli recently announced his re-election bid for a third term on the council and has been endorsed by Mayor Tom Bates.

“We rely on Laurie’s expertise and reasoned approach,” Bates said in a press release. “He is definitely an asset on the Council.”

In addition to serving on the zoning board, Capitelli served on the city’s Planning Commission and has been the council’s representative to the Alameda County Transportation Commission since 2010.

If re-elected, Capitelli plans to implement the city’s Downtown Area Plan, finish up the West Berkeley Project, continue work on Solano Avenue and bring pilot projects to the city. One of the proposed pilot projects includes the creation of “parklets” — a parking space that is converted into a mini-park — in northern area of Shattuck Avenue.

“We started the revitalization of Solano Avenue,” Capitelli said. “We simplified the zoning ordinance (and) we have suspended the restaurant quotas on Solano.”

Hahn ran against Capitelli once before in 2008 but lost by 401 votes. According to the council’s election archives, Hahn received 3,898 votes and Capitelli received 4,299.

In addition to Capitelli, councilmembers Susan Wengraf, Darryl Moore and Max Anderson — whose council seats are all up for re-election — have also announced that they will be seeking re-election in November.

Bates, a 10-year incumbent, announced on April 26 that he also intends to run for re-election this fall.

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  • James Chang

    I support Sophie!!!!

  • I_h8_disqus

    I will vote for her just to kick one of the pathetically inept incumbents off the council.  The council as a group has done nothing for Berkeley in the last 30 years.  The only changes and improvements to Berkeley seem to be from the influence of the university.

  • Tasty Berkel Berkel

    Lots of empty buzzwords from the Hahn campaign:
    “I’m running to provide voters with more of the proactive, transparent, community-oriented leadership that shows itself in real results”
    ‘economic reality’  ‘all stakeholders in the community’  ‘shared solution’  ‘strong positive impact’  ‘the ability to get things done’

    And what of this?
    “Hahn said the city has a pattern of not doing long range projecting for the city’s budget and financial issues and her goals will revolve around addressing these basic fiscal problems.”

    Hahn does not understand City politics vis-a-vis long term projects. Here’s the straight dope: the city caves to pressure and desires of the UC, end of discussion.
    Wanna bet Hahn won’t be co-opted by the massive power next door? I’ll take that bet.

    • This City is Interesting

      I really believe we need change on the Council. For many years now, City government has been more machine politics than anything else.  Even with public comment and Council deliberations, the final Council vote frequently is predictable along factional sides.  Rarely do we see a 5 to 4 vote and almost never do we see District Five member Laurie Capitelli vote on the other side of Mayor Bates. 

      Hahn is very tuned in to the City and I believe that she will “do the right thing” on key issues instead of voting “the right way” every time” as we so often see.  Not surprisingly, we have several critically important fiscal issues that have been ignored for eight years.  The present Council majority has had their opportunity and they have come up short in my view. It’s time for someone like Sophie Hahn to challenge the way the Council addresses important issues.