Progressive teacher challenges Bates for Berkeley mayor

Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi: making a second mayoral run against Tom Bates. Photo: Judith Scherr

Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a middle school teacher in Oakland, is running for mayor of Berkeley. This is the second time he’s challenged incumbent Mayor Tom Bates.

It took a double homicide in his Derby Street neighborhood four years ago to push Jacobs-Fantauzzi, then a teacher at Berkeley’s continuation high school, to his first run for mayor. The murder victims were the father of one of his students and another man in his 20s.

“It shook me in a way to question my role,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi told Berkeleyside. “What could I do?”

Teaching, he said, offered only limited ways of making change, especially for the disenfranchised youth who were his primary concern. “I could change the ethos of that school… be an amazing advocate for young people,” he said. “But if the city did not provide programs for young people, did not address issues of crime and safety, issues of young people that were marginalized, that were taking out their anger and frustrations on each other, then my role and my job is not really being fulfilled as a citizen of this city.”

Although the 2008 mayoral race was well under way, Jacobs-Fantauzzi signed up as a write-in candidate and, with a word-of-mouth campaign, pulled in just under 800 votes.

This time, he said, he’s prepared with a strategy that includes registering new voters, using social media, and cooperating with like-minded candidates.

Rank choice voting opens the doors to cooperation among competitors for the same office, a strategy used successfully by Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan in Oakland to defeat former Assemblymember Don Perata for mayor.

In Berkeley, voters can (but do not have to) rank their first three preferences for office.

Under the banner “Berkeley Progressive Alliance,” mayoral candidates Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Jacquelyn McCormick and Kriss Worthington are “trying to create a group to try to get rid of the current mayor,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi said. “We want to see a more democratic process in terms of people feeling like they can vote where their heart is, where their politics are, and not just feel like they have to choose one.”

Two other candidates are running against Bates: Bernt Wahl and Zachary RunningWolf.

Jacobs-Fantauzzi said, naturally, he wants people to rank him No. 1. “At the same time, I’m advocating for people to vote for Kriss and Jacquelyn,” he said. “I think Kriss offers a great trajectory as a city councilmember who has been true to his progressive politics throughout his career — I see him kind of as a mentor. And I have been very happy to work with Jacquelyn as someone who has … brought up some really important issues in terms of accountability.”

Jacobs-Fantauzzi grew up mostly in Santa Barbara and entered UC Berkeley in 1994, where his political consciousness grew with mentors such as Pedro Noguera, a progressive president of the Berkeley school board, now professor in education at New York University, and ethnic studies professor Carlos Muñoz. As consciousness of his ethnic roots grew, he helped found a Puerto Rican student club at UC Berkeley.

KPFA radio also shaped Jacobs-Fantauzzi’s political outlook. He was a member of the station’s Local Advisory Board in 1999 when the Berkeley station was taken over by its national board, which subsequently locked out local staff and supporters. Arrested for civil disobedience during that struggle, Jacobs-Fantauzzi said it taught him about “the struggle for free speech [and] democracy.”

Jacobs-Fantauzzi worked to get Jesse Arreguín elected to Berkeley’s city council. “It really shook me that in a city as radical and progressive as Berkeley there had not been a Latino city councilmember until 2008,” he said.

The issue in the current election that, perhaps, most distinguishes Jacobs-Fantauzzi from Mayor Tom Bates is his opposition to Measure S, an ordinance that would prohibit sitting on the sidewalk in commercial districts.

“Addressing the needs of homeless people or marginalized communities by arresting them is not a solution to the problem,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi said. “If we don’t have a place for people to go in our city, then definitely, we should be looking at how we can help them instead of looking at ways of arresting them.”

If elected, Jacobs-Fantauzzi said his goal will be “to reach all segments of society, to allow them to feel connected, to feel like their needs are being heard, their needs are being met, and that the differences that do exist in Berkeley are not divisive and do not tear our community apart.”

For more information about Jacobs-Fantauzzi and his campaign, visit his Facebook page, Kahlil4Mayor.

For a finalized list of all candidates running in the Berkeley elections, visit the City of Berkeley website.

Berkeleyside’s approach to local politics [08.22.12]
Roster of 2012 Berkeley candidates firms up [08.13.12]
Capitelli, Bates, lead in campaign fundraising [08.06.12]
Beat poet joins crowded field for mayoral race [07.19.12]
Max Anderson kicks off council re-election campaign [07.02.12]
Jacquelyn McCormick vows to be a more inclusive mayor [06.18.12]
Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council [05.09.12]
Berkeley’s Mayor Tom Bates announces his re-election bid [04.26.12]

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  • Haselstein

    Do you live in Berkeley? 

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Anthony, since you are speaking here on your own individual capacity and not ex officio, could you please disclose whether you live in Berkeley yourself?

  • Guestronic

     Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, dude.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    And here’s why I’m asking. If you don’t live in Berkeley, I’d ask you not to burden those of us who do with the weight of your conscience as to what is fair/unfair, just/unjust. You can have an opinion, of course, but if you’re not a resident of our community, then please channel your personal agenda to the community where you lay your head. I understand that you work in Berkeley, but that does not give you a proportional stake in the consequences, intended and otherwise, of the burden you wish to impose on the residents.

    If you ARE a resident, then disregard this.

  • EricPanzer

     Yup. All of my adult life, just over nine years now.

  • Increasingly Doubtful

    Fifty shades of gray, huh?  Referencing a trendy sadomasochistic porn novel in a discussion of public policy?  That’s not clever, it just shows poor judgment and immaturity. 

  • AnthonySanchez

    I love that quote. I learned it, of all places, from Babylon 5 -one of the best sci fi shows of all time. As imperfect beings, we can only expect imperfect systems.

  • AnthonySanchez

    That was more mean-spirited than meaningful. I’m not sure why you’d pick a fight over that, of all things. I have never read the book and I am aware of its content, but that doesn’t take away from the meaning of the title, which is very beautiful to me; it invokes nuance -a perfectly acceptable allusion to the points I’m making. And if I’m a bit playful, I’m just using the amusement our language and culture affords.

    I’m sorry you feel that way.

  • Increasingly Doubtful

    Keep digging — er, talking.  That hole just keeps on getting deeper.  But it does serve a purpose — although you are not speaking ex officio, your comments in this thread certainly help clear up some lingering questions I’ve had about Mr. Arreguin’s judgment, as well as yours.

  • Guestorious
  • Charles_Siegel
  • Anonymous

     I already own it, thanks.  I even got a minor in philosophy (the mathematical variety mostly) so even know what “deontology” means

  • Anonymous

    Oh man, this is classic.  He’s like a larval Tom Bates.

  • AnthonySanchez

    It appears you’re already slanted against us and my comments have not moved what has already been placed. I reviewed my comments; they don’t reveal much other than my silly linguistic habits, my tenacity to defend what I believe is true, and refraining from ad hominem attacks and respecting substantive opinions.

    I’m not asking you like me, or Jesse, or our policy positions. I just hope the debate can be lifted a few bars.

    Again, I’m sorry you feel that way and I am happy to meet you in person for coffee so you can at least know the person you’re commenting on.

    Email me at and I can schedule something as soon as possible.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I don’t what purpose that serves, but now that it’s here, I don’t shy away from a regrettable mistake.

    If it helps, Eric and I have a relationship, though up an down at the moment, and we buried that hatchett a long time ago.

    I was younger and more immature.

    I am still young and slightly immature.

    But I only see you posting that in an effort to belittle the substance of my words.

    I would hope you would have more confidence in your own ideas that you wouldn’t have to resort to attacking me.

    And since then, I have reflected a lot on my life and what I have and have not accomplished thus far. And you know what I am discovering and what I am working on? Becoming a better man. That’s truly the most I can attain in this fleeting life.

    So please, let’s have grown up discussions and I promise, I’ll come to the table -my high chair is long gone.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Can you email me? You said we’ve talked before and I probably do know you offline, but I can’t quite place you with your Handle. I’d like to see if we can talk offline soon; we have a lot we can share -maybe coffee at my favorite place: PiQ. Thank you and I look forward to your reply

  • Guestronic

    Already read it, so know the reference, though cute, is not applicable

  • Charles_Siegel

     Enforcement of sit/lie would be much easier than enforcement of laws against other problematic behavior.  Most problematic behavior occurs briefly, and the police are not there when it occurs, while sitting occurs all day, and it is easy for the police to tell people to move on.

    Sit/lie has worked in SF.  The great majority of people have moved on.  Only a small number of hard-core drunks continue to sit on the sidewalk.

  • Charles_Siegel

     I will one-up everyone by saying that Anthony should have talked about the difference between deontological and consequentialist ethics.  Alasdair MacIntyre has shown that it is possible for ethics to be teleological without being deontological. 

  • Charles_Siegel

     I meant, of course, that it is possible for ethics to be teleological without being consequentialist.  That is what happens when you use long words in a narrow space.

  • Thom

    it seems clear that sanchez does not live in berkeley. oakland perhaps?

  • AnthonySanchez

    I’dlovetohear moreabout that.

  • Charles_Siegel

     I realize that some older homeless people are abusive.  Rare man is over 60, and he is the worst nuisance of all the homeless people in Berkeley that I know of.  (I don’t know them all.)

    The reason I mentioned age is that younger people can stand and panhandle, if they need the money.  Older people, particularly if they are ill like McCoy, cannot stand for that long.  If they cannot sit and panhandle, they cannot panhandle at all in business districts.  Losing this small extra income will cause severe hardships for some people, such as going without food.

    As I said, I am stuck on this issue. 

    I would be very happy to have a law that prevents the gutter punks and other abusive people from sitting on the sidewalk, both for the sake of the businesses they hurt and for their own sake.  I think that Berkeley is creating long-term homelessness by tolerating this self-destructive street-punk culture.

    But I hate to see the severe hardship that this law would cause to harmless people, particularly to those who are elderly and ill.

  • Charles_Siegel

     And Berkeleyside is the time and place for discussing  city issues on their merits.  Do you seriously believe that your personal attack on Anthony for his use of language sheds any light on the issue of whether we need a sit-and-lie law?

  • Anonymous

     Pegasus is currently fetching a copy for me.  I’ll drop it in the mail when it arrives.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Thank you!

  • Guestronic

    @Charles Siegel.  Language matters, because words mean things.  Mr. Sanchez’s choice of words has shed a great deal of light on all kinds of things.

  • Guest

    Why do so many people in Berkeley’s government live outside the City?

    There should be a requirement that only Berkeley residents are allowed to hold City jobs.

  • Guest

    Good eye, bgal!

  • Guest

    “Words mean things”
    where have I heard  that before? Oh yeah: Rush Limbaugh’s favorite phrase!

  • Guest

    Wonder how many of those who are part of the DBA live in Berkeley?