Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf endorses Laurie Capitelli in Berkeley mayoral race

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf endorsed Laurie Capitelli in the Berkeley mayoral race last week, joining several East Bay elected officials who have rallied behind the council member ahead of the November election.

In addition to Schaaf, current elected officials including the mayors of San Leandro, Albany and Union City have lent their support to the candidate. Albany mayor Peter Maass as well as Berkeley mayor Tom Bates cited their personal experience working with Capitelli on various boards and councils since he joined the City Council in 2004.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, a mayoral candidate who is trailing Capitelli in fundraising, received endorsements last week from several labor organizations — the California Nurses Association and Alameda Labor Council.

Kriss Worthington, a council member who entered the race last month, received endorsements from the same labor organizations, as well as the city’s firefighter union, which has also endorsed Capitelli in the election.

With fewer than three months until the election, local candidates up and down the ballot are vying not only for donations from their supporters but also endorsements from current and former elected officials, community groups and labor unions.

“I think (Capitelli would) make a great mayor,” Maass said in an interview with The Daily Californian on Saturday. “That’s not to say that someone else on that list couldn’t make a great mayor also, but he’s the one that I’m familiar with and so that’s why I chose to endorse him.”

While Capitelli maintains the broad support of many current elected officials, including a majority of the school board, Arreguin has secured support from two former Berkeley mayors — Shirley Dean and Gus Newport — as well as current city officials. Campaign consultant Noah Finneburgh said the local labor community is “really coalescing around Jesse.”

“I think we have the overwhelming labor support,” Finneburgh said.

Capitelli’s campaign, however, disagrees.

“They have split the labor community,” said Jill Martinucci, Capitelli’s campaign manager, noting the endorsements he has received from the Alameda County Building Trades Council and the city’s police and firefighters’ unions.

Ben Gould, a less-known candidate who has received endorsements from various city commissioners and community members, emphasized the difficulty political outsiders face to secure support in this year’s crowded mayoral race — which currently features nine candidates.

Another candidate, Mike Lee, dismissed the implications of the endorsements entirely.

“Capitelli’s endorsements from other professional politicians isn’t surprising. It’s the fox giving a fox a wink of the eye and a high five,” said mayoral candidate Mike Lee in an emailed statement. “If labor actually believes that Arreguin is going to deal with their pension issues then priests fly and birds say mass.”

The mayoral elections will take place Nov. 8.

Contact Adam Iscoe at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @iscoe_dc.