New campaign office opens for Berkeley candidates

Benny Grush/Staff
The Berkeley Community Campaign Center, located at 1551 University Avenue, will be open to all candidate campaigns. The space is sponsored by mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McCormick.

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For the first time in recent memory, the city of Berkeley’s competing candidates in the upcoming November election will have a common space to collaborate with the community and share information.

The Berkeley Community Campaign Center — sponsored by mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McCormick and her campaign — will debut on Sept. 1 at 1551 University Ave. and will run until the end of its lease on Nov. 15, days after the election is over.

“We feel like there are a lot of candidates out there with very different positions,” McCormick said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about all sides of the issues.”

A total of 26 candidates have qualified for November’s electoral ballot — five running against incumbent Mayor Tom Bates, eight for Berkeley City Council seats, eight for four Rent Stabilization Board positions and four for two Berkeley Unified School District School Board director seats.

The office is open to candidates from all city campaigns — including rent board and school board positions — as well as campaigns for ballot initiatives. According to McCormick, the campaigns will share the cost for rent and utilities.

McCormick said debates and forums for opposing candidates may be scheduled at the center in upcoming months — the first time such collaborative efforts have taken place in Berkeley.

“We’re hopeful that people will use this with integrity and use it to show the community that everyone can work together,” she said.

Other candidates, including Adolfo Cabral, who is running for City Council in District 2, and mayoral candidate Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, have said they intend to open an office at the center.

“It’s forward-thinking,” Cabral said. “It’s very generous, and it’s truly a Berkeley kind of idea.”

Sophie Hahn, who is running against District 5 incumbent Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, chose not to move into the University Avenue office.

“I am running in a district, so it’s not a citywide campaign,” Hahn said. “I already have an office that’s been established for a while. No part of my district is Downtown, so it wouldn’t provide any visibility or convenience.”

Although McCormick, Jacobs-Fantauzzi and current Councilmember Kriss Worthington have endorsed each other in what Jacobs-Fantauzzi called a “Berkeley progressive alliance” to prevent Bates from being elected to a fourth term, McCormick has specified that they will each be running their own respective campaigns despite working toward a common goal.

“We are in the process of transforming the city,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi said. “We see this place as an opportunity for people to talk about oppositions … it’s kind of like a hub to bring people together to immediately start addressing the challenges in the city.”

Daphne Chen covers city government. Contact her at [email protected].