Familiar faces in Berkeley election

October 11, 2008 1:34:49 PM PDT
Berkeley voters will elect a mayor and five City Council members in the Nov. 4 election, but it's unlikely that the election will result in many new faces at City Hall.

The winner of the mayoral race is likely to be a familiar face because the two leading candidates are two-term incumbent Tom Bates and Shirley Dean, who proceeded Bates in the post by serving two terms from 1994 to 2002.

Bates defeated Dean in the 2002 election in a contest marked by an incident in which Bates trashed about 1,000 copies of the Daily Californian, the student paper at the University of California, Berkeley, because it carried an endorsement of Dean.

Bates, who captured 55 percent of the vote, pleaded guilty Jan. 8, 2003, to a petty theft infraction and was fined $100. He also agreed to pay $500 in restitution to the newspaper.

Five City Council seats are on the ballot, but the winner of one of the races is already known because District Three incumbent Max Anderson is running unopposed.

Two other incumbents also are on the ballot: Darryl Moore in District Two and Laurie Capitelli in District Five.

Moore, who is completing his first term on the City Council and also is a management analyst for the Oakland Housing Authority, is being challenged by property manager Jon Crowder.

Capitelli, who also is finishing his first term and is a partner at Red Oak Realty, is being challenged by retired attorney Sophie Hahn. There will be a new representative in District Six, as long-time Councilwoman Bette Olds is retiring.

However, Susan Wengraf, who has served as an aide to Olds since 1992 and has also served on the Berkeley Planning Commission, is seeking to succeed her boss.

Running against Wengraf is Phoebe Sorgen, a voice teacher who has served on the city's Peace and Justice Commission.

The one race that's guaranteed to produce a new face is in District Four, where five candidates are running to replace Councilwoman Donna Spring, who died in July after suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for many years. The seat has been vacant since then.

Running are L.A. Wood, a video production journalist who was active in the lengthy protest aimed at saving a grove of trees next to the University of California, Berkeley's football stadium, retired teacher Terry Doran, Jesse Arreguin, who's an aide to Councilman Kriss Worthington, real estate and finance professional N'Dji "Jay" Jockin and activist Asa Dodsworth.

Bates says in his ballot statement that he's proud that the city has been able to balance its budget since he's been in office and has the highest bond rating for a city of its size but "there is still much to do."

Bates says, "We're developing green jobs and businesses, launching the city's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and developing transit alternatives, including shuttles and car shares."

He adds that he's focusing on economic development with retail, hospitality, the arts, business and industry.

Dean says, "Berkeley is at a turning point" and the city "must come together to protect what is valuable and beautiful about Berkeley and make positive changes for the future."

Deans says she wants to bring "openness, vitality and new ideas to the mayor's office and pass a sunshine ordinance "that eliminates backroom deals."

In addition, Dean says she wants to revitalize downtown and neighborhood shopping areas by attracting new retail and provide incentives for economic development to ease the tax burden on homeowners.

Also running for mayor are Zachary Running Wolf, another activist at the oak grove who finished a distant third in the 2006 mayoral election with only 5 percent of the vote, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a teacher and community organizer.

Running Wolf and Jacobs-Fantauzzi are both running as write-in candidates.


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