Mayor Bates announces re-election bid for November

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Ten-year incumbent Mayor Tom Bates announced Thursday that he intends to seek another term for Berkeley mayor come this November.

If re-elected, this will be Bates’ fourth term as mayor. Despite criticism that his long tenure discourages new blood from taking a hold of the reins, Bates maintains that his role as mayor is pivotal for the city.

“I am a regional and city player,” Bates said.

He cited his extensive time in the California State Assembly as evidence of his political experience. Moreover, Bates emphasized his strong regional involvement in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Air Quality Management Board, SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission and Joint Policy Commission.

Bates further insisted that any individuals interested in running for mayor ought to have considerable political experience.

“They need to have a lifetime of public service,” Bates said. “Hopefully, they have the opportunity to gain experience to gain the position as mayor later.”

No other candidates have yet filed the necessary papers to declare candidacy for mayor, but the filing period for candidate nomination papers runs July 16 to Aug. 10, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

Local activist Zachary RunningWolf, who has run for Berkeley mayor in the past, said he plans to file the preliminary paperwork to run again for mayor in June.

“I will be in the race,” RunningWolf said. “I expect to win.”

Bates said that, personally, he sees his run for office as an effort to keep himself grounded with the concerns of Berkeley citizens.

“Campaigning is an opportunity to hear what people have to say and hear what concerns are,” Bates said. “It’s a very important learning experience for me.”

In terms of policy and what he seeks to accomplish, Bates circled back to nearly a decade ago — his first run as Berkeley’s mayor.

“When I first got elected, I had five main goals that still exist,” Bates said.

These five goals consist of establishing Berkeley as a leader in addressing global warming, expanding work and housing opportunities in the city, emphasizing children and bridging achievement gaps, providing excellent city services and revitalizing the Downtown area.

In the future, Bates said he hoped to expand on these issues, especially bringing more job opportunities to the area. He pointed to the establishment of Skydeck during his tenure — a joint UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory venture to encourage local tech-based startups.

Bates also holds a number of short-term goals in mind, especially focusing on Telegraph Avenue. He mentioned the possibility of bringing Wi-Fi to the Telegraph area.

He also wants to see a balanced budget passed by the beginning of July and to resolve the city’s current pension issues with labor unions.

The other offices up for re-election this November include City Council seats for districts two, three, five and six as well as four seats on the rent board and two school board seats.

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli announced his intention to run for a third term earlier this month, and Councilmember Susan Wengraf has also confirmed that she will also be running again. Councilmember Darryl Moore has also announced that he will be seeking re-election this year and expressed his support for Bates’ run as well.

“I support the mayor’s re-election,” Moore said. “I think he’s done a terrific job — provided excellent leadership to the council and to the city.”

Staff writer Anjuli Sastry contributed to this report.

Jaehak Yu covers city government.