In the midst of Berkeley’s election season, Cal Berkeley Democrats held a meeting Thursday night in which they endorsed 10 candidates, including mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Kriss Worthington.
Mayoral, City Council and rent board candidates introduced themselves and their platforms under allotted time limits. Once CalDem members had asked questions of all the candidates, the candidates left the room so CalDems could decide whom to endorse.
The motion to endorse Worthington failed the first vote during the CalDem student debate, but with miniature American flags in hand, members voted to support Worthington in the end.
Out of the six mayoral candidates, three were present at the meeting — current Mayor Tom Bates, Worthington and small-business owner Jacquelyn McCormick. Several Berkeley City Council members sent representatives to the forum.
In a room of more than 47 students, the CalDem student debate became heated when the mayoral candidates left the room, focused mainly on a divide between those who wished to support Bates and those who favored Worthington.
”In Cal Dems, specifically the more left-leaning progressives voted for Worthington, and the more moderate-leaning progressives went for Bates,” said ASUC Senator Klein Lieu after the meeting.
Lieu, a CalDems member, supports Worthington and believes he is the best candidate to represent students.
“He’s at the ASUC Senate,” he said. “This guy actually cares.”
In his speech that night, Worthington said he has personally appointed more than 100 students to city commissions, more than any other council member in the history of Berkeley.
Anais LaVoie, a fifth year at UC Berkeley and the former president of CalDems, spoke out in favor of Worthington during the CalDems debate because of his reputation as a student advocate.
“Kriss has come to every first meeting and every welcome back BBQ since I’ve been here,” LaVoie said.
LaVoie said she also had an experience with Bates during the planning process for Measure R — a ballot measure that would amend the city charter and allow the creation of a student supermajority district — that dissuaded her from supporting him.
“In the first meeting on the student district — before Measure R was on the ballot — Mayor Bates explicitly stated in public comment, to my face, that students do not belong on City Council and are not fit to govern themselves,” LaVoie said.
Some students said they were unwilling to endorse Worthington, citing Worthington’s temperamental relationship with certain City Council members as one point of criticism.
“I don’t have faith in (Worthington’s) leadership abilities,” said UC Berkeley freshman Woody Little, who said he identifies with progressivism but has some reservations about Worthington as a leader.
“I think there’s a tendency to jump on the bandwagon for progressives,” he said.
Additionally, CalDems endorsed the progressive pro-tenant rent board slate for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, which includes Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Igor Tregub, Asa Dodsworth and Judy Shelton.
“We have fought individually and collectively for renters’ and tenants’ rights … We are diehard for the people,” said Soto-Vigil, who is a legislative aide for Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.
CalDems also endorsed Max Anderson for City Council in District 3. Anderson was not present himself but was represented by Worthington.
“(Anderson) fights so passionately for his constituents,” Worthington said.
CalDems listened to candidates speak from City Council Districts 2, 5 and 6, but upon debating, the club was too divided to reach the necessary two-thirds vote required to endorse, so a no-consensus vote was reached for each of these districts instead.
CalDems also endorsed Dianne Feinstein for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Barbara Lee for the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Skinner for the California State Assembly and Loni Hancock for the California State Senate.
“I think we had a really valuable discussion,” said CalDems President Daniel Tuchler. “I think more groups on campus should have these discussions.”
Contact Gladys Rosario at [email protected]
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