Will poetry be the key to voters’ hearts?

Kriss Worthington

For his fifth bid for a seat on the Berkeley City Council, Kriss Worthington decided to try something unusual: communicate his message with a poem.

Instead of submitting prose for his candidate’s ballot statement, Worthington turned in a poem. “I only have 200 words. What can you really say with 200 words? I said, ‘let me try and be creative.'”

Worthington got the idea to write a poem after he attended a July 25 birthday party for Avotcja, an award-winning poet and instrumentalist. He was moved by how she and her friends, fellow musicians, communicated to one another through spoken word poetry.

Worthington left the celebration determined to try and write his own poem. It took him two or three days to write the six stanzas, and he showed it to a few friends before submitting it to the City Clerk’s office by the Aug. 6 filing deadline. The poem follows some classical rules. It has six quatrains of four lines each and “the rhyming couplets maintain an AABB form throughout,” he said. Each stanza addresses two different topics.


Worthington, who has represented District 7 since 1996, is being challenged by George Beier, a computer programmer and businessman, and Cecilia Rosales, a business owner.

Here’s the poem:

The Sierra Club says you should vote for me,
And who am I to disagree;
To non-profit groups I found money to give,
to help the seniors, poor, and disabled live;

For Peace, for Labor, for Consumer Rights,
I go to meetings most days and nights;
I practice real diversity,
the MOST Asians, Latinos, students and women were appointed by me;

When concern for taxpayers was moribund,
I made the motion for the Rainy Day Fund;
To stop violent crime I wrote a plan,
for ambassadors working with “the Man”;


Small businesses  I helped with parking and lease,
so you can come and shop here please;
I voted no on the bad BRT,
but lets get EcoPasses and Multimodal Connectivity;

As a tenant myself I know how it feels,
so I help lotsa tenants try for better deals.
I work long hours at very low pay,
to get Northside and Southside to have their say;

I love our people and love what I do;
An Independent Progressive Voice working for YOU
I reformed  the permit process but it’s still not right,
so you need to keep me there on Tuesday night!

Worthington wants to make it clear that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

“Please do not compare me to any famous poet,” he said. “I am not putting it out there that I am a great poet. I am just an average person having fun getting out a short message.”