4 candidates to compete for Berkeley’s District 8 council seat

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Four candidates have filed their candidacy to run for the Berkeley City Council seat in District 8 after the implementation of new district lines.

The new district lines, having been subjected to a referendum, can be overturned in November if the public chooses to vote against them. Currently, District 8 encompasses areas northeast and southeast of campus, although the lines may change depending on the outcome of November’s redistricting ballot measure.

The candidates — Mike Alvarez Cohen, George Beier, Lori Droste and Jacquelyn McCormick — are vying for the seat now held by Councilmember Gordon Wozniak. Wozniak, who has held the seat for more than 10 years, will not be running again.

George Beier

Beier, who ran for the District 7 council seat three times prior to the current election, is returning to the city government race after saying he was finished when he lost to Councilmember Kriss Worthington in 2010.

The unmaintained state of Willard Pool, located on Telegraph Avenue and Derby Street, was what re-energized Beier for public service and inspired him to run another time, he said.

“I’m going to push like hell to get that pool rebuilt for the kids in South Berkeley,” said Beier. “I cannot stand that thing being filled with dirt. We’re going to rebuild the pool and teach our kids how to swim.”

Since the new district lines implemented in late April put him into District 8, Beier said he added fire safety, traffic safety and home invasions to his list of concerns. He also plans to focus on the revitalization of Telegraph by working to allow for a greater diversity of stores on the street.

Lori Droste

Droste’s priorities include reforming education as well as addressing the lack of housing by creating a more welcoming environment for millennials. Droste said she hopes to make Downtown Berkeley a “cool place to live” by adding more housing options so people will choose to live in Berkeley first and choose their job second.

Droste said she plans to keep Berkeley a sustainable place to live and is pushing for more diverse representation on City Council.

“I want to do something — for short term, medium term, long term — and accomplish something,” Droste said, referring to her work on trafficking in the women’s commission. “I want Berkeley to be a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Jacquelyn McCormick

McCormick ran for mayor in 2012 and for City Council in 2008. She has been active as a neighborhood activist, acting as president of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association.

Her platform focuses on giving neighborhoods a voice in political decisions, which are sometimes overlooked by the council, she said. McCormick is also interested in providing housing for people of all incomes within the community and making public recreation more accessible.

Additionally, McCormick plans to address issues involving traffic safety and “beef up elements of our public safety” within the confines of city budget constraints.

Mike Alvarez-Cohen

Alvarez-Cohen, who could not be reached for comment, plans to encourage transparency through the use of technology. According to Alvarez-Cohen’s campaign website, he plans to attack issues of crime, traffic, parking, housing, homelessness and the city’s budget deficit through “public-private collaborations and technology.”

Endorsed by Wozniak, Alvarez-Cohen detailed “moonshot opportunities” for parking, traffic, crime and noise — all of which he calls “out of the box” approaches to current city issues, according to his website.

One of these plans includes installing wireless networked sensors on every commercial district and university parking space to let drivers know about the availability of open parking spaces.

Lydia Tuan is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @@tuanlydia.

A previous version of this article stated that Lori Droste wanted to do something for the “short term, medium term and long term” without placing the quote in proper context.