Berkeley City Mayor
When Tom Bates was last re-elected as mayor of Berkeley in 2008, we expected him to be a leader who could bring local officials and residents together.
Instead, he has proven to be a mayor who, especially in recent months, is unable to bridge the divide on the council and fails to adequately listen to the public at council meetings. The city needs a new mayor who can foster better communication and public engagement.
Jacquelyn McCormick has the best chance of being that kind of leader. McCormick, a neighborhood activist who ran for City Council in 2010, is the fresh face that the council needs so it can be a more effective body.
She is rightfully concerned about Berkeley’s financial woes and millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. As a past business executive, she brings experience with managing budgets and an outside perspective that would help her implement sound reforms. Furthermore, her idea to hold monthly town halls will ensure that the public is more involved with City Hall and that the council is attentive to its needs.
Candidate Kriss Worthington, who is currently the City Council member from District 7, has strong ideas but would have a more difficult time uniting the council. Worthington has vehemently opposed many of his colleagues’ tactics — for example, he joined protesters at the council meeting where Measure S was placed on the ballot. While he was right to do so in some circumstances, others have had a difficult time working with him, and the city needs a more inclusive mayor. That being said, Worthington has extensive experience with city government and would also take steps to improve the city’s fiscal standing through a rainy day fund. In this race, as with the City Council candidates, voters can rank their top three choices. Worthington deserves a second-rank vote.
Bates, though he must be replaced, has not been a completely terrible mayor. He leaves behind a strong legacy of environmental activism, a cause he promoted through his work on the city’s Climate Action Plan and the East Bay Green Corridor, a collaboration between UC Berkeley, the city of Berkeley and other cities and organizations to promote innovative “green” ideas. But it’s become excruciatingly clear that Bates has overstayed his welcome. His attitude toward the homeless, evinced by his enthusiastic support of Measure S, is problematic. At council meetings, he can be harsh and unaccommodating.
Choose a better leader to sit at the helm of the City Council. Vote Jacquelyn McCormick first and Kriss Worthington second for Berkeley mayor.
City Council District 2
The choice for City Council in District 2 boils down to two out of the three candidates vying for the position: Denisha DeLane and Darryl Moore.
DeLane would do a better job than Moore, the incumbent, because she has a deeper connection to the wants and needs of the West Berkeley district. A longtime resident of the area, DeLane has a strong sense of community and would bring that understanding to the council. She’s concerned about Measure T, which is on the local ballot and would change the rules for development in the area. DeLane told this board that she wants to see the definition of “community benefits” — which Measure T would require for the new developments it allows — more precisely outlined. And with her sharp awareness of the District 2 community, knowledge she furthered while working for a previous council member, she is the candidate who could advocate for community benefits most effectively.
Moore shares some of DeLane’s goals. For instance, both candidates stressed that they want to do more to address crime in District 2. Moore is deserving of a second-rank vote, but his ideas for another term fall short of the enthusiastic community advocacy pushed for by DeLane. Adolfo Cabral, the third candidate running for the council in this district, does not seem to have a firm enough grasp on the issues to be a strong leader.
Vote Denisha DeLane first and Darryl Moore second for City Council in District 2.
City Council District 3
Max Anderson pushes for change in areas that seem very important to District 3, which he currently represents on the City Council. He will work more on public health improvements and crime prevention in another term. When his goals are taken into consideration with the effective representation he has achieved so far, it’s clear that he would continue being a strong leader in another term on the council.
One of Anderson’s most recent accomplishments is helping to bring the Breathmobile, a mobile asthma care unit, to the city. The program will care for children with asthma, who are particularly impacted by air pollutants in the area. Anderson’s successful effort to provide that service for his constituents is admirable. During council meetings, he has been attentive to the needs of his district and has shown that he can work with other elected officials on policy matters.
His opponent in the race, nonprofit director Dmitri Belser, would pay close attention to engaging District 3 residents and being a responsive council member. Anderson could improve his performance in those fields, but overall, he has a better understanding of the issues his district faces.
Keep this consistent leader on the council. Vote Max Anderson for City Council in District 3.
City Council District 5
2008 is repeating itself in District 5. Once again, Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn are challenging each other for a hotly contested seat on Berkeley City Council. This time, Hahn presents a more innovative vision for the district.
In order to revitalize Solano Avenue, which has suffered from the economic downturn, Hahn places a commendable emphasis on working with the community. She has stated an interest in bringing different stakeholders together — including neighbors and business owners — to develop a plan for the future of the avenue that works for them. She suggested emulating a design competition Sepastopol, Calif. held for its downtown. Her plans would promote visionary ideas and create a new Solano for the community, by the community. This is what District 5 needs.
Hahn’s desire to incorporate residents into city politics is the right idea for Berkeley’s future. And her experience as an attorney and member of the Zoning Adjustments Board means she is already familiar with how local government functions and the complexities of city policy.
Incumbent Capitelli, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have done enough during his time on the council. Though he, too, understands the need for a vibrant economic climate, his plans fall short of Hahn’s fresh ideas.
Let’s get residents even more involved with crafting changes in the city. Vote Sophie Hahn for City Council in District 5.
City Council District 6
Susan Wengraf is the only official candidate on the ballot for Berkeley City Council in District 6, and she will serve well in another term.
In March, members of her district in North Berkeley were alarmed by the tragic death of Peter Cukor, who some felt could have been saved if police weren’t as consumed with a nearby protest. Recognizing this, Wengraf stepped up to the plate. She called for a town hall meeting at which the community was able to make its concerns heard. Wengraf made the right call and demonstrated that she works well with her constituents and is responsive to their concerns.
In her next term, Wengraf hopes to bring down property crime, make Berkeley a more business-friendly city and boost efforts around public safety. Because much of her constituency is in the hills, Wengraf hopes to work out a plan that would cut down on vegetation to save homes and even lives in a time of disaster. Let her keep representing that area well. Vote Susan Wengraf for City Council in District 6.
Rent Board: Shelton, Shenoy, Soto-Vigil and Tregub
The battle for four positions on the city’s Rent Stabilization Board is especially contentious this year. Two slates are running in stark opposition to each another, but voters should look behind the slates and elect the candidates from both groups who will advocate for fairness and affordability in rent policy.
Members of the board primarily deal with the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance, passed by Berkeley voters in 1980 to regulate rent, defend tenants against unfair evictions and protect affordable housing. Recently, the rent board came under fire through an Alameda County Grand Jury Report that claimed that the board operates without sufficient oversight.
The report has been a major issue in the election, and for good reason. But the Tenants United for Fairness slate has placed an exceedingly narrow focus on supporting the report, to the extent that most of the candidates seem to be running on little else. Judy Hunt expressed concern for supporting Berkeley’s seniors, but she lacks the leadership skills necessary to be an efficient rent board member. Kiran Shenoy is the only candidate running with the TUFF slate who appears to comprehend the complexity of the rent board’s charge. Because of his background as an attorney, Shenoy emphasizes impartiality and will be a useful addition to a body that handles intricate issues related to the law.
Judy Shelton, Alejandro Soto-Vigil and Igor Tregub from the Progressive Affordable Housing slate also deserve to be elected. Shelton and Tregub are incumbents who have proven successful during their time. Shelton’s workshops for small-property landlords provide a necessary educational opportunity to her constituents and should continue. Tregub successfully pushed for stronger protections to temporarily displaced tenants in the city’s Relocation Ordinance and would continue fighting for tenants in another term.
And Soto-Vigil, as a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, is no stranger to housing-related issues. Aside from his staunch support of affordable housing, he understands how vital earthquake retrofits are to buildings where many students live, and he recognizes the importance of collaborating with Berkeley City Council on various issues.
The rent board cannot write off the grand jury’s criticisms, but there are many other issues that deserve the body’s attention. These four candidates understand that. Vote Judy Shelton, Kiran Shenoy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil and Igor Tregub for rent board.
Berkeley school board: Tracy Hollander and Judy Appel
It’s time for fresh faces on the Berkeley Unified School District board. The current board took a serious misstep when its singular nomination for superintendent earlier this year was a candidate who many residents felt did not align with Berkeley values. This year’s election can get the school board back on track.
Voters can choose two school board candidates. As a teacher, Tracy Hollander is equipped to make decisions that impact the classroom. She places due emphasis on “teaching to the top” — creating rigorous educational standards to which all students can rise, rather than catering to low-performing students.
Like Hollander, Judy Appel is well-versed in the district’s budget problems through her involvement on the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee. Appel also has a track record of working with families and community members, including through her role as executive director of the Our Family Coalition, a Bay Area organization that advocates for LGBT families with children. Her broad-based support, seen everywhere from Assemblymember Nancy Skinner to the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and current members of the school board, backs up her claims that she can bring people together to accomplish something.
While incumbent Beatriz Levya-Cutler has done some important work during her tenure, specifically with regard to closing the achievement gap, Hollander and Appel bring more enthusiasm and new ideas to the table.
Vote Tracy Hollander and Judy Appel for the Berkeley school board.