Berkeley’s Mayor Bates announces his re-election bid

Mayor Bates: “I’d be delighted to continue doing the work I’ve been doing.” Photo: Lance Knobel

Mayor Tom Bates, who has held office since 2002, announced his widely anticipated bid for re-election today. Bates, 74, has served one two-year term and two four-year terms.

Berkeley’s mayor used his recently activated Twitter account to break the news at 11:28 am today. He wrote: “Announcing today that I’m running for Mayor of Berkeley to continue the progress we’ve made over the last 10 years,” and followed up with a tweet directing people to his website,

Speaking to Berkeleyside, he said: “I’m going to be seeking another term. I’d be delighted to continue the work I’ve been doing.”

This year’s mayoral race will be the first decided by ranked-choice voting. As yet, however, no challenger has emerged to Bates.

Bates said the five main goals he had when he started as Mayor of Berkeley 10 years ago were: 1) making Berkeley a leader in tackling global warming and climate change, 2) finding ways so that people who work in Berkeley can live in Berkeley, 3) tackling the achievement gap and health disparities for children, 4) providing excellent services for our citizens, 5) revitalizing the downtown.

In addition to those five, Bates said he was particularly interested in how the city could promote jobs and economic development. “I think a lot of that will happen through our rezoning,” he said, and mentioned as examples the new Downtown Plan and the West Berkeley plan. He also cited the East Bay Green Corridor as a route to improving economic development.

Asked about unfunded liabilities and infrastructure, Bates said: “We have to negotiate with our employees to share in the burden”, and went on the explain that he thought the city had been “overly generous” in terms of pensions. “Employees will have to start picking up some of the pensions costs. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to work with the unions,” he said.

Negotiations are currently ongoing with the police and service employees to that end.

Speaking specially about Berkeley’s infrastructure, Bates said: “Our infrastructure is crumbling around us. We have to find some way to get more money into the infrastructure.” He mentioned in particular the city’s streets, storm drains and sewage system.

“The tax burden is very high, but we also provide lots of services. We have to be honest with people. We have to demonstrate to our citizens that we are going to tackle this.”

Bates doesn’t believe there is support for higher property taxes. He hopes, however, that there might be a path to a small increase in sales tax.

“I would dedicate those revenues to our infrastructure. My hope is that citizens would be supportive. We are just not keeping up with the problems. You go to any city in northern California and the streets are falling apart, with the exception of El Cerrito. And they raised the sales tax. We’re not going to get funding from the federal or state government. We have to look to ourselves.”

In February, Bates filed the necessary campaign finance forms for re-election, although those did not commit him to a bid. Last week, in a less formal move, he gingerly starting using a long-dormant Twitter account (two days ago, this teaser: “Berkeley rules. We’re tackling challenges, but there’s still work to be done. Announcement later this week.”).

Bates’ wife, State Senator Loni Hancock, preceded him in the Berkeley mayor’s office where she served for two terms. No other names have yet emerged as candidates for mayor. Hancock is running unopposed for renomination for her state senate seat.

The official nomination period for candidates is July 16 to August 10. In addition to the mayoral race, the November general election includes races for council districts 2, 3, 5 and 6, four rent board seats and two school board seats.

Heads-up: Berkeley’s Mayor Bates to start tweeting soon [04.17.12]
Mayor Bates lays groundwork for re-election bid [02.03.12]
Mayor Bates’ new chief of staff brings startup experience to City Hall [01.11.12]
Berkeleyside interview: Mayor Tom Bates [07.19.10]

Berkeleyside publishes dozens of articles every week. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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  • Nick Taylor

    How about the fact that our city employees pensions are funded 85%, greater than most municipalities these days (re: municipal bankruptcies) but our streets are full of potholes and residents are taxed for individual improvements to almost everything. Add to that we pay for parking at almost every location, while businesses struggle to compete with Albany (no parking meters) and Emeryville, which has lots of cheap, no ticket parking, and El Cerrito, with gads of new city enhancements and beautification. Have you seen the re-done recycling center on Schmidt St.? It’s beautiful! 

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     and will appoint his son to finish his term…then all the people with their heads in the sand will re-elect his son and we will be stuck with him for 2plus terms…history always repeats itself!

  • Sandy_Green

    Hey, Berkeleyside, Why haven’t you done an article on the monstrous, dangerous proposed development in West Berkeley that is coming up at the next city council meeting on Monday?
    For coherency:
     Bates, like the majority of the city council is more than willing to endanger the lives of West Berkeley residents with inherently dangerous bio-tech and ‘green-tech’ industry. There has been no discussion of safety protocols. 
    We already have Bayer, which will easily kill many of us if there is an ammonia leak. The only plan if there is a leak is for residents to shelter in place. Unless your residence is completely air-tight, you will be poisoned by ammonia gas. 

  • The Sharkey


    Offensive, uncalled for, off topic, irrelevant, and the kind of comment that Berkeleyside has deleted in the past as being “ageist.”

    This comment should be removed or edited by moderators.

  • The Sharkey

    Too bad so many of those comments add absolutely nothing to the discussion. Ranting and raving won’t do a lick of good without a viable alternate candidate, and so far no good alternate has publicly announced their intention to make a serious run for the office.

  • Charles_Siegel

     But no pension for Bates from it, right?  That was the issue in the initial comment.

  • Bruce Love

    But no pension for Bates from it, right?  That was the issue in the initial comment.

    I’m not certain but my tentative understanding is that:

    a) Bates himself will apparently not get pension money from Berkeley?

    b) The funds that would have been his compensation are instead spent, as compensation for his subordinates, by the mayor’s office and at his discretion.   Thus, the “pension burden” on Berkeley is still present, although the exact amount may differ slightly.