Berkeley community bids farewell to Kriss Worthington on last night as City Council member

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Berkeley community members said goodbye to Kriss Worthington on Friday at Old City Hall on his last night as a District 7 City Council member.

Community members, from librarians to commissioners, said their thanks and farewells to Worthington, whose 22-year term on Berkeley City Council has come to a close. Attendees sang songs and recited poems, and City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced that a street will be named after Worthington to commemorate his retirement.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín said he first met Worthington when Arreguín was a student at UC Berkeley. Arreguín said Worthington gave students and young leaders opportunities to make impacts in Berkeley, telling them that the student voice matters.

“As Kriss was moving the boxes out of his office today, it became real that he’s leaving our City Council,” Arreguín said at the event. “I’m filled with an immense sadness to see him leave but enormous appreciation for all that he’s done for the city. There are countless pieces of legislation that he has introduced in his 22 years on the council that has made a lasting impact on our city.”

Arreguín added that Worthington has been a leader at both the regional and state levels. He also thanked Worthington for his mentorship and for making Berkeley a better place for workers, the environment and residents.

Worthington said there were many “intense battles” during his 22 years, ranging from housing bills to environmental programs. Many of his most memorable moments, he said, were with his 500 student commissioners and 1,000 student interns, as he saw them grow and learn how to write ordinances, resolutions and council items.

“It’s just so exciting to see entire generations of people learn to take their ideas and translate to action (and) have their policies voted on by the City Council,” Worthington said. “I feel like I was a small part of them to realize their abilities. I feel very lucky that I’ve had such a talented pool of people to choose from. It’s been beautiful.”

Worthington added that he would have continued on City Council if he thought he was most fit for the office, but he believes he is being replaced by someone who can continue his work or even go further.

District 7 City Councilmember Rigel Robinson said he is honored to succeed Worthington, who has been a “trailblazer” for progressive changes. Robinson added that Worthington has made elevating student voices his mission, which Robinson will continue.

“It’s just overwhelming to just sit and hear all these people say such nice things about you,” Worthington said. “I’ve never had so much positive things ever said about me in my whole life, and I probably never will. It’s very touching.”

Contact Bella An at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BellaAn_dc.