Kriss Worthington polls ahead by 81 votes in student-district race

Kriss Worthington, District 7 incumbent, addresses his supporters at his results viewing party while they await the final ballot counts.
Rachael Garner/Staff
Kriss Worthington, District 7 incumbent, addresses his supporters at his results viewing party while they await the final ballot counts.

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At approximately 11 p.m. on election night, Councilmember Kriss Worthington arrived to his campaign’s viewing party, hours late and poring over papers of hand-tallied votes.

He had spent the night traveling from poll to poll, gathering numbers. They looked to be in his favor. But it wasn’t over yet.

“We’re in first place, so that’s sort of a sign that it should be OK,” he said in a speech at his campaign headquarters.

Later in the night, after 100 percent of precincts had reported, Worthington was winning over challenger Sean Barry with 55.32 percent of the vote. He had an advantage of 81 votes, although some mail-in-ballots were not counted Tuesday night.

Overall, 761 people voted in District 7, a turnout that Worthington called “depressingly low.” Barry said that he expected a turnout of at least 1,000 to 2,000 voters and that the votes haven’t been fully counted yet.

“It’s mostly just a matter of wanting to get more information,” Barry said. “Obviously, I’d rather be ahead than behind, but double-digit votes is not insurmountable, so at this point I don’t feel like I’ll be able to draw much of a conclusion.

Barry, a recent UC Berkeley alumnus and former Daily Californian assistant news editor, filed candidacy in mid-June, while Worthington did so several weeks later, citing his willingness to have a progressive student to run in his place. Ultimately, though, no such student filed, even though District 7 has a super-concentrated percentage of student-aged residents.

Worthington, who has traditionally identified himself with more progressive views, has served 18 years on the council. In that time, he said, he has appointed more student commissioners and hired more interns than any other council member.

His possible re-election comes in the wake of a new District 7 map, which, after a referendum, lawsuit and court ruling, was initially adopted for this election only. But with the passage of Measure S, those boundaries will become permanent until the next redistricting attempt. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the measure succeeded, receiving 64.16 percent of the vote.

Worthington supported the referendum campaign against the new map, saying the new lines gerrymandered Northside student cooperatives and residence halls out of the district. Barry supported the map, noting that, although imperfect, the student district will benefit the campus community. Under the new map, District 7 will be composed of about 86 percent student-aged residents.

Barry, 27, emphasized his relative youth as evidence of his ability to represent students. In addition to endorsements from most council members, he had the support of the Berkeley Police Association, which criticized Worthington’s record on protecting students from crime on Telegraph Avenue and around People’s Park.

Worthington was endorsed by Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Max Anderson, who, in addition to Worthington, are often termed the “council minority.” On campus, he had the support of Cal Berkeley Democrats and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn.

Worthington’s current term expires Nov. 30.

Contact G. Haley Massara and Melissa Wen at [email protected].