District 2 city council race is battleground for Measure T

Campaign signs for the District 2 race dot the median on San Pablo Ave. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Darryl Moore has represented District 2, the southwest section of Berkeley, for eight years and counts among his accomplishments bringing $2 million to rejuvenate San Pablo Park and federal stimulus funds to repave Sacramento Street. The 51-year old also considers himself an advocate for affordable housing, youth, closing the achievement gap, and luring jobs to the neighborhood.

His opponents in the upcoming election, Denisha Delane and Adolfo Cabral, are trying to paint a different portrait of Moore, who took office in 2004 after getting the endorsement of his predecessor, Margaret Breland. The two, who are running for public office for the first time, say Moore provides little leadership and is increasingly out of touch with his constituents. They point to his support of Measure T, which would change zoning in West Berkeley to allow the development of six large sites in the next 10 years, as a case in point. Even though more than 100 residents, artisans, small manufacturers and professionals spoke in opposition to the plan at numerous city council meetings, Moore supports it.

“There has been a great void of leadership in our neighborhood,” said Delane, 33, who grew up in Berkeley and now works as an HIV/AIDS program associate for the Allen Baptist Church in Oakland. “There is a lack of visibility and responsiveness, in terms of the connectedness between our community and their council office.”

Cabral, 60, is even more blunt. “We have got to get Darryl Moore out of there,” he said. “This guy is using District 2 as a stepping stone to get bigger and better political careering.”


District 2 is in west Berkeley. Image: City of Berkeley

The three-way race to represent District 2, which has about 12,000 residents and is a mix of residential, commercial, and light industrial areas, is the most crowded of the City Council races on the November 2012 ballot. Both City council members Laurie Capitelli and Max Anderson are just facing one opponent. Councilwoman Susan Wengraf is officially running unopposed, although Phoebe Sorgen has mounted a write-in campaign.

Of all the city council races, the one for District 2 might be most impacted by the introduction of ranked-choice voting. In the past, if a candidate did not get 50% of the vote, Alameda County held an expensive run-off election. This year voters are being asked to rank their first, second, and third choices, when applicable. If no candidate gets 50% + 1 of the vote, the candidate with the least number of voters is eliminated. The #2 and #3 choices of those voters get re-tabulated time and time again until one candidate wins a majority.

Being an incumbent automatically gives Moore greater name recognition than Delane and Cabral. He has been in the public eye longer — he was also a trustee of the Peralta Community College District — and regularly communicates with his constituents through his newsletter, town hall meetings and community forums.

Despite this advantage, Moore said he is not taking his position for granted. He has spent weekends and time off from his job as a Section 8 program analyst for the Oakland Housing Authority knocking on doors and getting volunteers to hand out literature and make phone calls.

“They are both tough candidates,” said Moore. “They are working together. So yes, I am concerned. I am not taking the campaign lightly.”

Supporters of Delane and Cabral are urging supporters to rank them either #1 or #2 on the ballot to deprive Moore of getting 50% plus one of the vote.

“As I understand ranked choice voting, it’s best to vote for two challengers instead of just one,” said Zelda Bronstein, a former Planning Commissioner and a major organizer for the No on Measure T campaign. She has endorsed both Delane and Cabral.

Cabral’s yard signs have a decidedly homemade style. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The fact that District 2 is ground zero for Measure T has also put Moore’s seat more in play than it might have been if there wasn’t such a controversial issue on the ballot.

In fact, Cabral decided to enter the race in large part because of Measure T. A DJ, musicologist and a retired facilities and operations supervisor for United Business Media in San Francisco, Cabral first got involved with community issues when he moved with his wife to West Berkeley in 2000. He joined forces with the Rosa Park Neighborhood Association to sue to shut down two drug houses and soon sat on its  steering committee. Moore eventually appointed Cabral to sit on the West Berkeley PAC (Project Area Committee), which was charged with assisting the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency in the completion of the West Berkeley Redevelopment Plan. It was dissolved in 2010, but not before Moore “fired,” him for asking too many penetrating questions, according to Cabral.

In May, Adolfo Cabral spoke out against the West Berkeley Project at a City Council meeting

Cabral continued to remain closely involved with West Berkeley land use decisions and was a vocal opponent of the West Berkeley Plan, testifying before the city council numerous times. He is particularly critical of the process used, which, he said, was not inclusive or informative. The city did a terrible job letting stakeholders know huge changes were being discussed, he said.

“I think people are aware that the West Berkeley Project has been forced on the community,” said Cabral. “There is a grassroots groundswell opposing it, so that’s a sure sign there is something wrong with it.”

Moore disagrees that the community did not have an opportunity to voice its opinion about the West Berkeley Project. The Planning Department set up dozens of meetings with stakeholders in recent years. The Planning Commission had numerous meetings, and the City Council heard about 60 hours of public testimony on the project, he said.

Cabral is running a lean campaign. He has only raised $1,385 compared to Delane’s $2,904 and Moore’s $12,469. His yellow campaign signs have a homemade quality to them. He acknowledges he did not have a firm grasp on what was needed to win when he entered the race.

“I have realized how naive I am about politics and about how things are done,” he said. “I have had great leadership and mentorship [from other community activists] but have not understood the amount of energy and networking it takes to make a dent.”

Delane also says that Moore’s position on Measure T was a factor for her in entering the race. She was disturbed that the City Council did not work out a community benefits package before putting Measure T on the ballot.

“My reason for not supporting T was because our community benefits were not defined,” said Delane, who said she supports development, just not this particular one.

Denisha Delane: works as an HIV/AIDS program associate for the Allen Baptist Church in Oakland

Delane was close to Councilwoman Margaret Breland’s grandchildren while growing up, helped out in some of her campaigns, and eventually served as her aide from 2001-2003. Delane also worked with the NAACP and served on Berkeley’s telecommunications commission.

But her political awareness really came through her church, the McGee Avenue Baptist Church, she said.  Her second pastor, D. Mark Wilson, was politically involved, reached out to other denominations, and urged action on homelessness, housing, and other issues. The Oakland Tribune outed Wilson as gay, prompting the church community to examine its assumptions and biases about gay people, as well as HIV and AIDS, said Delane. In part because of his influence, she became a deacon in the church and eventually started working full time in HIV/AIDs awareness and prevention in the African-American community.

Councilman Jesse Arreguín said that Delane’s grass-roots knowledge of the community, as well as her creative approaches to problem solving, led him to endorse her. He endorsed Moore in previous elections.

“I think she’s an amazing candidate, having grown up in southwest Berkeley,” said Arreguín. “I think she has a good perspective on how the community has changed, and what the community needs. My concern with Darryl is I haven’t seen a lot of leadership in terms of bringing things to the council or even in his own district. People don’t feel he’s all that responsive.”

Darryl Moore handing out backpacks filled with school supplies to students at Rosa Parks Elementary School

Moore has the endorsement of five of the eight current council members, and the divide mirrors those who endorse Measure T and those who oppose it. Arreguín, Kriss Worthington and Anderson oppose the measure, and Moore, Mayor Tom Bates, Capitelli, Linda Maio, Wengraf and Gordon Wozniak endorse T and Moore.

“He is a tireless worker,” said Maio. “He is very much a champion for his district and for services. That’s why he has been trying to figure out a way to get some development to West Berkeley. It’s a job issue for him.”

Maio said Moore has always been good to work with and she admires his ability to be engaged even though he is the only council member with a full time job. He brings a unique perspective as a gay man and and African-American and, if you disagree with him, he will not turn on you, she said.

Moore also received the endorsement of Oakland Tribune, and was the only incumbent to do so. The Tribune criticized other elected officials for not fully understanding the importance of the city’s unfunded liabilities but said Moore, with his years of experience as a budget analyst, did grasp the issues.

The difference between the candidates regarding Measure T reveals how each views the future of Berkeley. Both Delane and Cabral are concerned about upsetting the delicate balance of business, industry, artists, and residents that now make up ethnically diverse West Berkeley. Allowing the construction of at least six buildings with an average height of 50 feet, but that can go as high as 75 feet, will increase property values. That will raise rents and make it hard for people of modest means to stay in the neighborhood, they say.

Moore thinks West Berkeley is under-utilized and sees a future where the neighborhood has a number of cutting-edge green companies that create more vibrancy, and more importantly, jobs.

“We need jobs and job opportunities,” said Moore. “Berkeley has world-class programs. We give close to $3 million a year to homeless programs. We have senior centers, probably more per capita than any other city our size in California. We have branch libraries, swimming pools and youth programs. The question is how do you pay for these? I reject this idea of let’s just continuously go to the taxpayers. If you read an impartial analysis of Measue T, done by the economic development department, you see that Measure T will create thousands of jobs.”

Visit Berkeleyside’s Voter’s Edge Berkeley for complete coverage and tracking of the city’s 10 ballot measures. Visit Berkeleyside’s Election 2012 section to see all our coverage in the run-up to Nov. 6.

Note: This article has been amended to take out a sentence attributed to Cabral that said Berkeley only mailed notices about changes to West Berkeley to a small group of homeowners rather than broadly. Cabral said he never mentioned anything about mailings to Berkeleyside.