Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio not to seek re-election in November

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Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio, who currently represents District 1, will not seek re-election in the November 2018 midterm election, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

Maio first announced the news to her friends, supporters and co-workers in a Sunday email. She thanked a handful of people for their guidance and listed some of her accomplishments from her time in office, including improved air quality in West Berkeley and the creation of the city’s Watershed Management Plan.

Maio ended the email by saying she will continue to push “our priorities” forward during her last nine months in office.

“I have served for 25 years and it feels right to me to step aside now,” Maio said in an email.

Maio also endorsed Margo Schueler — a recently retired engineering supervisor from East Bay Municipal Utility District — who Maio described in the email as “an ardent environmentalist, smart, and a hard worker.”

Maio stepping down from the council will be “a tremendous loss to the city,” according to Councilmember Susan Wengraf.

“When I came on the council just nine years ago, we were not always politically aligned,” Wengraf said. “I represent the hills; she represents the flats. And the values have traditionally been different. Those barriers broke down quickly when I realized what an incredible person she was.”

Wengraf recalled an incident in which she and Maio traveled to Los Angeles together for a policy conference involving city officials from across the state. While Maio had scheduled no meeting before reaching Los Angeles, she was able to organize a workshop at the last minute, an experience that Wengraf said was “a metaphor for how (Maio) operates.”

At this workshop, which Wengraf described as a “guerrilla operation,” Maio was able to mobilize local government officials against the transportation of crude oil through their districts — an issue that was not on the officials’ radar before the conference.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who described Maio as a “mentor” in an email, said she made “an incredible impact” on the city, citing the creation of Ohlone Park and the implementation of the soda tax as some of her accomplishments.

“Councilmember Maio’s retirement will leave the City Council without important institutional knowledge,” Arreguín said in an email. “She is able to understand complex issues, work with people, and know how to bring people together.”

He also said Maio’s leadership skills were exceptional and that her “retirement will create a big loss on the council.”

Councilmember Ben Bartlett also said the council will miss Maio’s leadership and compassion. He spoke about how Maio helped him pass the “Step Up Housing” initiative and how she taught him to build consensus around complicated and controversial items.

“I’ll definitely be calling on her for advice,” Bartlett said.

Contact Luke Kopetsky at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @LukeKopetsky.