Two candidates filed preliminary campaign paperwork this week to challenge 10-year incumbent Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in this year’s November election.
Local business owner Jacquelyn McCormick, a board member of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, said she favors a community-oriented perspective in using city resources to address the local needs, while Berkeley resident Mark Schwartz said he focuses on improving the city by addressing civil liberties that Berkeley residents are entitled.
“I believe Berkeley needs a new direction — needs a more dynamic leadership,” McCormick said. “I know that I’m up against a very powerful opponent … but my campaign is based on the community, and it’s going to grow from the community.”
For Schwartz, Bates’ announcement on April 26 to run for a fourth term played an integral factor in his decision to run for mayor.
“I’m a strong believer that new blood should come into the system,” Schwartz said.
One of McCormick’s main concerns revolves around financial problems in the city. She highlighted issues with the city cutting social services that many people depend on. To alleviate this problem, she said she hopes to reinstate a budget commission to improve fiscal responsibility.
“All decisions are driven by the budget,” McCormick said. “We certainly have the resources to figure it out and be a beacon to the country, so let’s use them and engage them.”
To encourage more transparency in presenting the city budget to the public, McCormick is involved in the Berkeley Committee for F.A.C.T.S. — fiscal accountability, transparency and sustainability — which has gathered around 4,000 signatures to place their F.A.C.T.S. initiative on the ballot this November. The initiative would require the city to prepare and publish a biennial report specifying financial obligations over a 20-year period.
Similar to McCormick, Schwartz hopes for Berkeley to serve as “a model in the country and in the world,” but through different methods.
His three-point platform includes reducing carbon monoxide poisoning by creating a plaza between Bancroft Way and Dwight Way, establishing affordable housing for the homeless and creating solar-driven transportation from Berkeley to the city of Albany.
“I think we should have a healthy base for mayor rather than re-electing the mayor,” said Cynthia Papermaster, a peace and justice community activist. “I think (Schwartz) would be a good opponent to talk about these issues with the community (through) dialogue and debate.”
McCormick is also the coordinator for Berkeley Budget SOS, a civic organization dedicated to improving the city’s financial budget, and a founder of Berkeley Council Watch. She was also a former senior vice president and manager at Bank of America.
“She’s full of energy and she’s very concerned about the truth in city government,” said Dean Metzger, a fellow member of the neighborhood association. “She is going to be a mayor that will listen to the community.”
However, Councilmember Gordon Wozniak — whom McCormick ran against in 2010 for the District 8 council member position — said that she needed more political experience. According to Berkeley City Council’s election archives, McCormick gained 878 votes to Wozniak’s 2,803.
“I think it’s a little premature for her to run for mayor,” Wozniak said. “I think the (current) mayor is by far more experienced and in a better position to continue leading Berkeley. The city is in much better shape than it was (when Mayor Bates was first elected).”
But Schwartz, one of the founders of the East Bay LGBT Democratic Club and a member of the Berkeley Citizens Action, believes change is needed for the city. He said he grew up involved in politics, beginning at the age of six when he first entered the voting booth to working with former Salt Lake City, Utah Mayor Ross Anderson on his 2012 campaign for President of the United States.
“I’m a people person,” Schwartz said. “I was a strong anti-Vietnam War protester and spoke out in front of a crowd of 5,000. I’m a strong believer in the Constitution, which I don’t believe Mayor Bates is.”
During his participation in the Occupy San Francisco protests last December, Schwartz was arrested outside the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Building for allegedly violating the city’s sit-lie ordinance. His hearing will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Hall of Justice in San Francisco.
Schwartz graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He has also published several poetry books.
McCormick and Schwartz are the only two community members to file preliminary campaign paperwork declaring their candidacy so far, but they are not the only two Berkeley residents who will be opposing Mayor Bates. Local activist Zachary RunningWolf, who ran for Berkeley mayor in 2006 and 2008, said in April that he also plans to file the preliminary paperwork to run for mayor in June.
The official filing period for candidacy nomination paper runs from July 16 through Aug. 10.
Daphne Chen covers city government.