Berkeley election activity begins in earnest

The appearance of lawn signs, such as this one for mayoral candidate Jacqelyn McCormick on Ashby, is a sign that campaigning in Berkeley’s elections are warming up. Photo: Tracey Taylor

With Labor Day behind us, elections are moving center stage in Berkeley as well as nationally, as candidates begin to hustle to get their names and messages in the public eye.

Lawn signs have started to sprout in front yards, endorsements and presentations are being made, campaign offices are being fitted out, and new Facebook pages are asking that you give candidates your love.

A total of 26 candidates are standing in the November’s electoral ballot — five running against incumbent Mayor Tom Bates, who has been in office for a decade, eight for Berkeley City Council seats, eight for four Rent Stabilization Board posts, and four for two Berkeley Unified School District School Board director seats. (View the full list of qualified candidates on the City of Berkeley website.)

Max Anderson, who is campaigning to keep his District 3 Council seat, organized a kick-off event held at La Peña Cultural Center on July 2 that included poetry, tears and fried chicken. On Labor Day, Anderson orchestrated what he called a “mass mobilization,” asking volunteers to leaflet his neighborhood.

Sophie Hahn speaks at her campaign kickoff event held at Café Clem on Aug. 26

Sophie Hahn, who announced in May that she was taking on Councilmember Laurie Capitelli in District 5 for the second time, kicked off her campaign at Café Clem in downtown Berkeley on August 26. Hahn spoke of her plans to improve Berkeley on many fronts with an emphasis on supporting small and local businesses downtown and on Solano Avenue. Dorothee Mitrani-Bell, the owner of Café Clem as well as La Note restaurant, shared her experiences as a longtime business owner and expressed her strong support for Hahn. Council members Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguín were also there to show their support.

Mayor Bates held his kick-off at Berkeley Mills on Wedneday, August 29. A crowd of supporters included council members Susan Wengraf, Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore. “He could be retired now,” said Wengraf. “He could be playing golf every day. But he isn’t. He’s still optimistic. He’s still determined to make Berkeley the best it can be.”

Bates said his priorities in a fourth term would be work on the 2020 Vision to reduce Berkeley’s achievement gap, and continued emphasis on what he called “the best climate action plan in North America.” Bates also listed the numerous regional commissions and boards that he sits on, helping, he said, Berkeley have a voice beyond the city’s boundaries. He said he and his staff had tried to count the funds that his work had attracted to Berkeley: “There’s $110 million we have been directly responsible for bringing to our community.”

Supporters gathered at the kickoff event for Mayor Tom Bates’ reelection campaign at Berkeley Mills. Photo: Lance Knobel

Kriss Worthington kicked off his mayoral campaign at Bacheeso’s on Telegraph Avenue on Aug. 8, complete with Latin Jazz and a buffet.

Last week, the Berkeley Democratic Club held the first of two endorsement meetings. A total of 125 members turned out and voted on who they wanted to endorse for four council seats, the BUSD School Board, and board members for BART and AC Transit. The BDC endorsed Darryl Moore for District 2, Dmitri Belser for District 3, Laurie Capitelli for District 5, and Susan Wengraf (who is running unopposed) for District 6. For School Board they endorsed incumbent Beatriz Leyva-Cutler as well as Judy Appel; for BART District 7 Zakhary Mallet; for BART District 3 Rebecca Saltzman; and for AC Transit Chris Peeples. See details on Berkeley Democratic Club’s website.

Max Anderson and Dmitri Belser at the first of two Berkeley Democratic Club endorsement presentations. Photo: Tracey Taylor

On Sept. 6, they meet again to vote on endorsements for Mayor and Rent Board, and to vote on the ten measures that are going on the ballot in November.

The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club made its Berkeley endorsements in August. It is endorsing Kriss Worthington for mayor, Darryl Moore for District 2, and Judy Appel for school board. The club will consider endorsements for District 3 on Sept. 19.

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club will make its endorsements Sept. 6.

For the first time that anyone can remember, a campaign HQ will be shared by many candidates in this election, including by some who are competing against each other, after mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McCormick announced she would make office space at 1551 University Avenue available to all. Describing it as “campaign central”, McCormick hopes the public will drop in to inform themselves about issues and candidates. Debates and forums for opposing candidates may be also be held at the center in coming weeks.

The Community Campaign Center at 1551 University

So far, candidates, aside from McCormick, who have said they will be based there — contributing to rent and utilities — include Kriss Worthington, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, and Zachary Runningwolf, all of whom are running for mayor; Asa Dodsworth, Igor Tregub, Judy J. Hunt, and Alejandro Soto-Vigil, who are all standing for Rent Board commissioner posts; and Adolfo Cabral who is running against District 2 Council Member Darryl Moore. Several ballot measure campaigns will set up shop there, too, including Yes on U (“Sunshine”), Yes on V (FACTS), and No on R (Redistricting). The Yes on Pools campaign is using vacant office space in the Berkeley Plaza building on MLK Jr. Way.

Yes on Pools office on MLK Way

There will be a number of candidate forums in the coming months. The East Bay Gray Panthers will host a mayoral forum Wednesday Sept. 26 at 1:30 pm at the North Berkeley Senior Center. The Friends of Berkeley TWI will hold a forum for school board candidates on Sept. 27 from 6 to 8pm at LaConte Elementary School on Russell St. The Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association will hold a mayoral forum on Oct. 1 at St. John’s Church on College Avenue. The Thousand Oaks  Neighborhood Organization (TONA) will hold its election meeting Oct. 11 at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church October 18 at 7pm at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church auditorium on Catalina, at Colusa and has invited the two District 5 candidates to address the group.

(All candidates and campaigns are encouraged to use Berkeleyside’s free, self-serve Events Calendar to list their upcoming events.)

Berkeleyside has launched a dedicated Election 2012 section in which you can find all our coverage of the elections — including profiles of candidates, reports on campaign financing and analysis of the issues under consideration.

Progressive teacher challenges Bates for Berkeley mayor [08.27.12]
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]

Would you like to get a recap of the day’s Berkeley news in your inbox at the end of your day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free email Daily Briefing.

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  • Charles_Siegel

    Don’t forget BART board.  Rebecca Saltzman is an excellent candidate, endorsed by the Sierra Club, Nancy Skinner, and Loni Hancock.

  • Bill

    I’m always glad for the election year since street re-paving picks up significantly.  Of course there may not be any connection but it sure seems that way!

  • TOm white

    Information about Dmitri Belser’s run for (South) Berkeley CIty Council District 3 can be found at

  • Jane Tierney

    Update, the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association meeting is October 18th at 7pm at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church auditorium on Catalina, at Colusa Aves. This update did not make it in time for the publication date this morning. Sorry to all concerned. 

  • David D.

     Whoever paves Fourth Street between Cedar and Gilman gets my vote! :o)

  • David D.

    The trifecta of more-politics-as-usual? Notwithstanding the terrible endorsements, I took a look at her website and do like her issues. Whether she would be effective is anybody’s guess… As long as she doesn’t get endorsed by Mary King, she may stand a chance!

  • Joe Adams

    I would like to direct attention towards one of the races mentioned in this article – the seat for district 5 city council (Sophie Hahn is running against incumbent Laurie Capitelli).

    Sophie Hahn has publicly claimed repeatedly that Capitelli SUPPORTS the death penalty, that he is AGAINST a woman’s right to choose, and that he is AGAINST equal pay for women. ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THESE CLAIMS ARE TRUE.

    Laurie Capitelli is a democrat and holds precisely the opposite of those positions, like Hahn herself. And SOPHIE HAHN KNOWS THAT. She is deliberately trying to MANIPULATE AND MISLEAD voters in an extremely disgusting and dishonest way. She knows that the vast majority of voters in district 5 are against capital punishment, are pro-choice and pro-equal pay. She also knows that if she could successfully convince those voters that Capitelli differs from them on those issues, that that would harm him at the poll.

    It is an indisputable fact that SOPHIE HAHN HAS PUBLICLY AND KNOWINGLY LIED ABOUT HER OPPONENT’S VIEWS in an attempt to manipulate voters in her favor. 

    No matter what your views on the actual politics of the two candidates here, it is your duty as a citizen to be appalled and outraged by this. It is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR CANDIDATES TO LIE. A person who is disillusioned and jaded with politics and politicians might say, “Oh well, politicians lie. It’s one of the sad but inevitable truths of government.”

    To that person I would give a reminder that Sophie Hahn is not a career politician and these are not the filthy trenches of a large-scale election. She is a citizen of Berkeley just like you or I, and she is campaigning for a role in our local, community government. This is a time and place where something can actually be done about this dishonest and despicable conduct.


    Perhaps I am an idealistic and ignorant young man, but I was not aware of this kind of bullshit happening in local politics and I say we must respond to it with utter outrage and disgust.

  • Voxhumana

    Please state your source for your claims that Sophie Hahn has publicly and knowingly lied about her opponent’s views. 

  • Joe Adams

    At the John George Democratic Club endorsement meeting on Saturday, August 18, Sophie Hahn claimed that Laurie Capitelli supports the death penalty, which he has always opposed. The following Saturday, at the endorsement meeting for the National Women’s Political Caucus, she claimed that he opposes equal pay for equal work for women and a woman’s right to choose. Absolutely not true. 

    (It is worth mentioning that the stated purpose and goals of NWPC the “are to increase women’s participation in the political process, to increase the number of pro-choice women in elected and appointed positions, to win equality for women and to support candidates who support our goals,” and they only endorse women candidates, yet they did not endorse Sophie Hahn or choose to take No Position in that race, but instead returned “No Endorsement” – which is essentially an endorsement for Laurie Capitelli. This strongly suggests among other things that the NWPC did not believe Sophie Hahn’s allegations against Capitelli.)

    I would also like to note that her signs say that she is pro-choice, which implies that her opponent is not.

    Furthermore, these issues were never relevant to district 5, even if Hahn wasn’t lying about her opponent’s views on them. She is clearly trying to engineer a character assassination of Capitelli.

  • The Sharkey

    Wow. This is despicable even for Berkeley.

  • Jane Tierney

     Perhaps “Joe” is confused. Sophie Hahn has commented about Mr. Capitelli’s record.  

    Sophie Hahn has never stated that Capitelli is against the death penalty, not-pro-Choice or against Equal Pay. 

    I have heard Sophie Hahn cite Mr. Capitelli’s record on votes which relate to the Death Penalty, Choice and Equal Pay.  Here are the specific votes she has referred to:
    On December 8, 2011, the City Council was asked to adopt a resolution calling for an end to Death Sentences in Alameda County.  Seven Councilmembers voted in favor of this Resolution. Mr. Capitelli did not give the resolution his support, choosing to abstain.

    On March 25, 2008, a motion was before the Council to oppose the anti-Choice “Ban on Killing a Viable Unborn Baby Act” being placed on the 2008 State Ballot.  Mr. Capitelli chose again to abstain, refusing to register his opposition to this extreme anti-choice Act.

    On April 22, 2008 the City Council was asked to adopt a motion to send a letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer, urging them to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to seek meaningful redress.  Seven Councilmembers voted in favor of this resolution.  Mr. Capitelli chose to abstain, and did not to vote in favor of this letter to support the Fair Pay Act.

    Council Agendas and Minutes are available on the City of Berkeley Website at

  • Charles_Siegel

     If you are anti-Sierra Club, that says it all.  Polls have shown that the Sierra Club is the most trusted organization in Berkeley.  But we all know that, on Berkeleyside, no matter what you mention, you will find someone who is adamantly against it.

  • Disitrct 5 resident

    I heard Sophie make the same comments at the John George Club Democratic Club. It is one thing to have a negative campaign, but it is completely disgusting to lack a moral compass to fabricate an opponents views.   The Alameda County Democratic Party can see through the ghastly comments whcih is one reason that Laurie Capitelli will be endorsed bythe party.

  • Julie Holcomb

    Jane Tierney’s comment that “Sophie Hahn has never stated that Capitelli is against the death penalty, not-pro-Choice or against Equal Pay” is patently false.

    I attended the NWPC candidate endorsement meeting, and heard Sophie explicitly state that Laurie Capitelli “opposes Equal Pay and a Woman’s Right to Choose.” Those were her exact words. It was only when Laurie was allowed to respond to her accusations that she brought forth her “proof” – his abstentions on those resolutions. He did not vote against the resolutions, he abstained. According to his comments, he abstained because had concerns about the wording, etc., of those resolutions, but he is and always has been adamantly pro Choice and for Equal Pay. I think Sophie knows that. Are there any democrats in office in California who don’t support Choice and Equal Pay?

    I think it is quite damning that the National Women’s Political Caucus (Alameda North) did not endorse a woman candidate who styles herself as the “Pro-Choice Democrat” in her race, as the group only endorses women, and only pro-choice candidates. By a large majority, the membership voted for “No Endorsement,” which is effectively an endorsement for Laurie Capitelli. If they did not want to endorse him, either, their website would show “No Position” for that race.

    Many others can corroborate this information. Dozens were there.

  • Julie Holcomb

     When I came out of my house to walk my dog this morning, I saw that my 2 Laurie Capitelli signs, as well as those of my three adjacent neighbors, were taken down and torn into pieces, then dumped in a pile in front of my house. Is this some kind of childish retaliation for my posting above? I’d like an answer from the Hahn campaign.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Sadly, torn, damaged, vandalized, or missing campaign signs are a perennial problem in any campaign. In my nearly 10 years of experience in campaigns, it’s almost always chalked up to hooligans or overzealous supporters/detractors. I wouldn’t be quick to think Sophie’s campaign had any involvement in the same way I wouldn’t be quick to assign Laurie responsible for missing and damaged Sophie signs (which has also happened). Also, I’d think both campaigns would be too good for that.

    Back in 2010 for Jesse’s campaign, we had nearly all of our signs defaced with malicious/immature stickers, but we didn’t cry foul because 1) there’s no use, and 2) there’s no proof, and 3) campaigns are never won or lost based on yard signs and 4) well, I don’t have a 4th point because the point is that there’s no point in counting signs -they’re like socks: they’ll always come up missing and they’ll drive you mad.

    Although, for laughs, maybe you should try this: 

  • Robert

    I have heard the same from 5 different people that attended these endorsement meetings.  Rather than sticking to the issues, she is going around trashing Mr. Capitelli and lying about his positions.  This is unacceptable.  Ms. Hahn has no integrity and will say anything to get elected.  She is unfit for public office.

  • Julie Holcomb

    The signs that were removed and destroyed and dumped in front of my house were replacements of signs that had been taken just two nights previously. Seems kind of systematic. 30-40 of Laurie’s signs have been taken in the past week. Laurie has asked his supporters to refrain from vandalizing or encouraging others to vandalize anyone’s signs. Sophie should do the same. Of course a candidate does not have full power to control the actions of others, but the candidate does set the tone of the campaign. As you can see from posts above and below, the tone that Sophie has been setting has not been entirely positive. She needs to explicitly tell her people to cut it out, because vandalizing the opponent’s signs reflects poorly on her campaign and her candidacy.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I can understand your orientation and, in full disclosure, I support
    Sophie. However, beyond, above, and aside all of that, there’s no need to still assign partisan blame for the signs. There are real issues to interact with and this is not one of them. If it satisfies you, Sophie, too, has put out a call to respect property and the process by refraining from this petty behavior.

    I’m not trying to be confrontational and I sympathize with your signs. I’m only trying to provide the basis for you to see that it’s not helpful to accuse blame for something that is inexcusable, but largely uncontrollable and inevitable  and not helpful to anyone.

    You’re an outstanding member of our community and I respect you. I think we’re both better served moving on to issues of merit and away from accusations of retaliation.

  • The Sharkey

    Why on earth would you support a candidate who blatantly lies about her opponent’s views and record?