As Max Anderson enters retirement, his district will surely remain in good hands. After all, a slew of qualified, impressive candidates are vying to succeed him. In the end, though, Ben Bartlett is the first choice, and Deborah Matthews is the second.
Bartlett has served on various city commissions over the years, including a stint on the Police Review Commission during the December 2014 Black Lives Matter protests. In his time on the commission, he has worked hard to keep the department accountable for its brutal actions during the protests and helped encourage the collection of race data for police stops.
We expect him to use his seat on Berkeley City Council to push the same much-needed reforms across the city.
When it comes to housing, Bartlett’s detailed plan to use in-lieu fees to help subsidize mortgages, for example, shows a willingness to think of creative solutions to a nearly impossible-to-solve problem.
Matthews, too, illustrated a willingness to work with all parties to increase affordable housing, and her desire to incentivize more affordable units by streamlining the permit process for developers who include more affordable units shows a great way to balance the opposing council forces.
Bartlett spent considerable time focusing on the impending closure of Berkeley’s Alta Bates hospital. As the closest and most-used emergency room for Berkeley residents, Sutter Health’s decision to close the hospital’s doors poses a crisis for the city of Berkeley. Bartlett’s willingness to use his position to keep those services available to Berkeley residents is critical.
As Bartlett said in his interview with the Senior Editorial Board, corporations shouldn’t drive policy — politicians and the people should. Bartlett is the candidate best suited to stand up to Sutter Health and keep important emergency room services in Berkeley.
Here again, Matthews also showed a willingness to use her office to prevent the move. She also emphasized the need to institute a backup plan — a series of medical emergency centers in Berkeley. Though they wouldn’t supplant a full emergency room, the centers would give the city some sort of safety net, showing that Matthews has Berkeley’s best interests at heart.
Rival candidates Mark Coplan and Al Murray also emphasized these best interests. We were impressed with Coplan — a former Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson — for his commitment to ensuring the longevity and vivacity of Berkeley public schools.
Murray, too, has devoted extensive time and energy to local commissions, demonstrating dedication to increasing access for residents with disabilities and lighting the streets of Berkeley to make them safer, among other things.
Councilmember Max Anderson, a consistent voice for progressive values on the council, will surely be missed when he retires after years of service. He’s endorsing Ben Bartlett to succeed him, and we agree with his decision.
Endorsements represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.