Berkeley councilwoman honored

November 21, 2008 3:05:20 PM PST
An era ended this week when 88-year-old Berkeley City Councilwoman Betty Olds, who has been involved in city government for 31 years, participated in her last council meeting.

Olds, who was appointed to the city's zoning board in 1977, elected to the rent board in 1984 and elected to the City Council in 1992, was honored by her colleagues and constituents at the council's meeting Tuesday night.

Afterward, Olds said, "It's always nice to hear compliments. Usually you just hear complaints."

Olds is still active, alert, feisty and opinionated, but she said one of the reasons she decided not to seek re-election this year is, "My hearing isn't very good anymore."

She will be replaced on Dec. 8 as the Berkeley Hills representative on the nine-member council by her longtime aide Susan Wengraf, who was elected on Nov. 4.

Olds has been considered to be a moderate on the liberal City Council, often criticizing her colleagues for their forays into foreign policy issues at the expense of local matters.

But Olds is a big supporter of animal welfare and in 2007 she climbed into an oak tree next to the University of California, Berkeley's football stadium to show support for tree-sitters.

Olds said that even though she's leaving the City Council, she won't be out of city politics completely because she plans to serve on the city's Citizens Humane Commission until a new animal shelter is completed.

When she isn't busy with that post, Olds said she plans to "work in my garden and do some other things."


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