Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council

Sophie Hahn: running for Berkeley City Council this year

Sophie Hahn, who grew up in Berkeley and sits on the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, has announced she is running for City Council District 5, which is currently the post held by Laurie Capitelli.

Hahn says she will provide a different brand of leadership, one that is community-oriented and transparent. “Berkeley is a fantastic place, but people don’t see progress here in basic areas like upkeep and services. We need to make decisions based on facts and data changes, not because of political ties and favoritism,” she says.

Hahn says she believes Berkeley residents are frustrated because they have not been properly informed about the city’s financial predicament. “We have $1 billion of unfunded infrastructure needs that we are committed to paying for and we have to make some hard choices,” she says. “But we have to show trust and transparency in our communication with people. We haven’t even shared a plan with the community for the city’s economic future.”

Hahn cites the decision to raise the compensation of former Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz shortly before he retired as an example of the way the current City Council displays a “disconnect with the realities people are facing.” “That money was ‘our money’,” she says. “One of the great things about Berkeley is that we have very generous taxpayers, who give to schools and libraries, but they expect the money will be responsibly spent.” The new economic realities, Hahn says, call for a “very different style of leadership.”

Hahn ran against Capitelli in 2008 and lost by 402 votes. Capitelli received 4,299 votes and Hahn got 3,897 votes.

Hahn’s stated priorities include an expansion of the city’s economic base, the revitalization of downtown, improvements in public transit and cycling amenities, support of local youth, smart development, and a focus on maintaining Berkeley’s open spaces and recreation, including the city’s pools. Hahn mentions a photo Berkeleyside ran in January 2011 of Willard Pool filled with dirt. “It was so sad,” she says. “It was a sign of defeat. We’re robbing people of health, safety and joy. A city should be a joyful place. Kids of color swim at much lower rates than average. Swimming is a life skill, we live on the coast — what are we doing if we’re not keeping our young people happy?”

Issues that she says are particular to District 5 include the need for a revitalized Solano Avenue, disaster preparedness, and public safety.

Hahn, who is President of the PTA at King Middle School, and former Chair of the City of Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women, three years ago launched the Berkeley Edible Gardens Initiative to change the permitting requirements for the sale of home grown food in Berkeley. The legislation is up for approval at the Planning Commission on May 16.

Hahn is married and has three children, aged 13, 15 and 17, all of whom attend Berkeley public schools, as did she. She grew up on Santa Barbara Road and attended Cragmont, Columbus (now Rosa Parks), King, West Campus and Berkeley High. She graduated UC Berkeley in 1983, then attended Stanford Law School. She has lived in Paris and New York City and in Berkeley since 1995, soon after having her first child. She is on the Board of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and Chair of the North Berkeley Committee of the Branch Libraries Capital Campaign. She is also on the Council of the Friends of the Bancroft Library and on the board of nonprofit ArtUP! Berkeley.

Along with District 5, the November general election includes races for council districts 2 (Darryl Moore), 3 (Max Anderson), and 6 (Susan Wengraf). Four rent board seats and two school board seats are also up for grabs. So far, apart from Hahn, no other candidates have emerged to challenge council incumbents or the mayor. Mayor Tom Bates announced his re-election bid on April 26. The official nomination period for candidates is July 16 to August 10.

Berkeley’s Mayor Bates announces his re-election bid [05.09.12]
Urban homesteader challenges city on sale of edibles [04.15.11]

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  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Please run for mayor!

  • BHills

    Nothing against Ms. Hahn. I sincerely hope she defeats the bloviating Mr. Capitelli.

    My concern is that when Shirley Dean ran against the moribund Mr. Bates, she trounced him in the hills while the rest of the city settled for the least, giving us today’s sad state of the Office of the Mayor. We need someone to run who has city-wide appeal, good ideas, and who shows at least some signs of life and interest in the job.

  • EricPanzer

    So this isn’t strictly related to the post and may have been mentioned elsewhere, but this revamped Disqus system seems more than a little overzealous in terms of hiding comments. A lot of relatively civil comments are being hidden as abusive. Whereas before it seemed that Berkeleyside moderated comments manually, Disqus now seems to be treating flagged comments as guilty before proven innocent.

    Also, if you’re someone who flags something as inappropriate just because you disagree with it, please stop. If you most show your disapproval, there’s now a down-voting button, so feel free to press it liberally. Or, even better, take a minute to civilly state what’s on your mind.

  • Chris


  • BHills

    Maybe someone can explain what I said that called for this post to be hidden?

  • Lhasa7

    Someone or other is clearing abusing the highly abusable new Disqus format. Can’t Berkeleyside revert to the former, functional, system?

  • Anonymous

    The flag-as-inappropriate button should just be removed. There are lots of dumb, misguided, and generally clueless comments here but I don’t recall ever seeing anything I’d call inappropriate (spam, links malware, links to illegal content, etc.).

  • John Holland

    Eric wrote:

    Or, even better, take a minute to civilly state what’s on your mind.

    Or, considering that you could get downvoted and/or flagged and hidden, why bother any more?

  • Charles_Siegel

    I just made the same comment on another thread. Someone is abusing the Flag for Abuse option – making comments disappear just because he or she disagrees with them, even though they are civil and constructive comments.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Actually, there are lots of comments that include ad hominem attacks, which are a violation of Berkeleyside standards.

    I think the way to handle it is to let people flag for abuse, but don’t make the posts disappear immediately if they are flagged. Instead, let the site owners review those that are flagged and decide whether to remove them.

  • EricPanzer

    Because I’m strong-minded, pedantic, and a loud-mouth. Oh, and I’m a glutton for pain.

  • John Holland

    I’m going to have to flag this comment above as inappropriate.

  • Andrew

    There’s more comments about the comments than the actual stories nowadays : )

  • Charles_Siegel

    It clearly is an ad hominem criticism – but despite the violation of policy, I will have to remember to use it the next time I disagree with Eric.

  • Greg

    Though counter-intuitive, the flagging system actually helps to identify the more interesting, cogent, and/or well written comments. They’re often marked with the ‘hidden’ disclaimer (and blue ‘Show comment’).

    I think this might because the kind of person most likely to flag something as inappropriate is also the kind of person most likely to be bothered by/not understand such comments.

  • John Holland

    Eric is very inappropriate. At the Open House he was loud and boisterous. No one wanted to hear his silly jokes, and he seemed fixated on Occupy Blondies. Why would anyone want to Occupy Blondies?! If there was a button for “pretty much totally inappropriate” I would pretty much use it on Eric when appropriate, meaning when he is inappropriate.

  • John Holland

    It’s like playing a hidden object game, though. I would rather just see all the comments, and scan them quickly visually.

  • Greg


    My impression thus far is that the majority of the comments that have been hidden for violation weren’t ‘ad hominem’ attacks. Again, this is only my impression, but I think ‘Anonymous’ above is on-the-money.

  • Bruce Love

    I think of it in terms of an economic model:

    Anonymity in the comment system thwarts most of the costs of personal, public accountability for those wishing to avoid them.

    Consequently the costs of launching attacks are low. Most kinds of attacks don’t even need a “flag” button — that’s just the particular kind of attack that people are noticing today.

    The potential rewards for attacks, in a politically-charged, hyperlocal news context, are high.

    The only surprising thing is that anyone expects a different outcome.

  • Anonymous

    There seem to be lots of hypersensitive people who think being disagreed with or shown with weird pre-post-modern things called “facts” and “data” that they have no idea what they are talking is an ad hominem attack but of course it isn’t. If logical fallacies were grounds for having comments censored from web forums then the world wouldn’t be drowning in forum comments I think.

  • Greg

    While I agree with what you’re saying I choose to remain nearly anonymous (a bit of sleuthing based on my comments here could pin my identity down). There are a number of reasons for it, but cover for attacking others is not among them.

    That said, I’m not sure even the anonymous ‘flagging’ here is really as anonymous as its abusers think. I wish I could bet money on who is responsible for flagging the majority of your posts, for example.

    What I find more irritating than the flagging is the single count for up/down. It makes it impossible to distinguish between ignored/non-contentious comments and polarizing comments. Both types could appear within a small +/- window ’round 0.

  • I’m Jes’ Sayin’

    OK. Twenty one or twenty two comments, six of which are hidden due to abuse reports.” Really?

  • concerned citizen

    I’ve just read the article about Sophie Hahn running for City Council. None of the comments that are visible are in response to the article. I’d be interested in reading comments that are related to the content of the article. I, for one, am delighted to see Sophie run again and am hoping for a win for her, this time.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Bruce is generally voted down rather than flagged as abusive.

    You make a good point about the + and -: It would be much more useful to display them separately. Everyone would know that a post that gets +10 and -10 is much more interesting than a post that gets +1 and -1. And they could hide those that have negative posts with no or few positives, rather than those that have a negative balance.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I agree that someone is abusing it, and the majority of the comments that have been flagged so far were not problematic at all.

    But there are also lots of ad hominem attacks – not just logical fallacies, but personal abuse.

  • berkeley resident

    Sophie is incredible! I’m so excited to hear that she’s running. We need strong leadership in Berkeley and Sophie is the one to give it. I’ve met her several times and every time i spoke with her she was attentive and thoughtful. You can tell when talking with her that she REALLY CARES about Berkeley. I am so grateful of her work for Berkeley’s youth and as a middle school tutor always am looking for people in public office who advocate for youth, families, and education.

    Also as a transgender person I was struck by how respectful and knowledge Sophie was when i met her. She was knowledgable and cared about the many issues facing LGBTQ residents in Berkeley.

  • Greg

    There seem to be a lot of ‘abuse’ complaints for Tom’s posts too. The words I’d like to use to describe such acts would get me flagged. I’ll stick to ‘cowardly’ and ‘pathetic’.

    While I may not always agree with him I find he is polite (almost) to a fault, entertaining, and appears to be one of the smartest people posting here.
    The +/- thing pales in comparison to my new complaint: The false hope of the ‘Edit’ button.
    I’ve never posted without some sort of typo/spelling/grammatical error/word omission. That button allows me to edit the comment, but the save silently discards my changes.
    Now, I understand why they can’t allow you to edit comments without some sort of authentication, but the false hope is cruel.
    The words I’d like to use to describe ‘Disqus’ would get me flagged.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Its probably master Bates up to his old shenanigans trying to keep opponents out of the running, but instead of stealing news papers he’s blocking content.

  • Gron

    Yes! We need someone who can fight for libraries and bicycle friendly transportation policies- she has my vote!

  • Berkeleyborn

    Did berkeleyside get this comment system on loan from China? Feels like we’re reading the comment section of the Beijing times. This comment will probably get blocked too

  • Peter

    Sophie is a dedicated and an intelligent individual who should be elected to council. She offers not only a fresh approach but will bring objectivity to the various and many issues we face. Many of these issues have not had the attention required to better understand the challenges nor provide a path forward for city policy. I believe Sophie is capable of improving the effectiveness of city government in general and the council in particular.

  • hardlyaguest

    If Hahn persists with trying to bring commercial/retail use to residential zoned areas she’s lost the election before she starts. Neighborhood groups will make sure of that.

  • Bigskybabs

    I worked with Sophie on some PTA projects at King. She is tireless, focused and inspiring to work with. If I am in district 5, she’s got my vote for sure!

  • anon

    I haven’t read many candidates’ statements so full of generalities and so lacking in details — the “how to” stuff seems to bore this candidate, or maybe she’s clueless.

  • Mab

     Just what we need — more voters so uninformed they don’t know what’s their district, or who’s on on the Council!

  • Tim

    …hominem is a homonym….ever notice that?