Councilmember Laurie Capitelli files mayoral candidacy

Ethan Epstein/Staff

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With one candidate already announced, Councilmember Laurie Capitelli filed a statement of organization Monday, officially starting his bid for Berkeley city mayor during the 2016 election.

Capitelli currently represents District 5, which covers the city’s northeast region, and was first elected to the position in November 2004. Prior to his position on the council, Capitelli has also held positions on the city’s Planning Commission and Zoning Adjustments Board.

He has yet to publicly announce his candidacy or release campaign platforms.

District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin was the first to file his intent to run for mayor in late October, and has recently announced several key campaign platforms, which include increasing housing affordability and raising the city’s minimum wage.

The seat Arreguin and Capitelli are vying for is currently held by Mayor Tom Bates, who was elected mayor in 2002. Bates has stated he will not run for re-election in November 2016.

Arreguin said that he is aware of Capitelli’s intent to run. Arreguin claims that the biggest difference between himself and Capitelli is in their visions and approaches to current city issues.  Arreguin stressed the importance of “real solutions,” as well as “bringing people to the table to come up with the best ideas” as part of his goals as mayor.

Capitelli recently authored an item — passed by the council Tuesday — detailing an increase in the city’s business license fee under which money collected would be funneled into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. The fee increase is projected to garner approximately $4 million of revenue for the city.

In October, Capitelli became the subject of controversy when Bay Area News Group claimed that he profited from the city for a 2009 housing loan for which he voted.

Berkeley residents will also be voting in 2016 on positions for council members in Districts 2, 3, 5 and 6, as well as four and six seats on the city’s Rent Stabilization Board and school board, respectively.

Zoning Adjustments Board Commissioner Sophie Hahn is expected to run for Capitelli’s seat, which was set to expire in 2016 but would be made vacant if Capitelli were elected mayor. Hahn has previously challenged Capitelli for the District 5 seat. Attorney Stephen Murphy, a member on the city’s Commission on the Status of Women, has also filed to run for the District 5 seat.

The fate of each candidate lies in the hands of Berkeley residents, who will vote in citywide elections Nov. 8, 2016.

“I welcome Mr. Capitelli to the race,” Arreguin said. “I look forward to a spirited debate about the future of Berkeley. My goal is to make sure the city works for everyone.”

Contact Kimberly Nielsen, Adrienne Shih and Cassandra Vogel at [email protected].