Still undecided about the election? Let us help

Will you miss all the lawn signs on Berkeley medians after tomorrow? Photo: Alan Tobey

Over the last several months, Berkeleyside has run many dozens of articles on Berkeley’s mayoral election, council seat races, the school board contest, the rival rent board slates and most of the 10 city measures on the ballot tomorrow. On top of that, our collaboration with MapLight on Voter’s Edge Berkeley provides a handy one-stop site for information about the ballot measures. And our Opinionator op-ed section has overflowed with rival views about various election issues.

What Berkeleyside is not going to do is make any endorsements in the election. There are two reasons why. First, we believe in an educated, informed citizenry. Newspaper endorsements are a relic of a pre-Internet era when readers had to rely on insiders to tell them what was what. Our goal is to make sure you have as much information as we have, so you can make up your own mind. We don’t feel the urge to make it up for you. Second, we work hard to be impartial in our news reporting of Berkeley. Even if we convince ourselves that we could create neat compartments between our opinions and our reporting, our readers would be understandably skeptical.

Instead, we thought we could give you a pithy guide to our coverage. If you voted early, well done. If you’re waiting to get your “I Voted” sticker tomorrow, we hope the following helps. Whatever your choices, do get out and vote.

Mayor

Incumbent Tom Bates faces more uncertainty than in his past three races thanks to the advent of ranked choice voting. If you’re going to read one article on the mayoral contest, we wrote about the potential consequences of RCV last week. As always, there are further related articles linked at the bottom of the post.

Council races

The heated District 5 race between incumbent Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn has attracted a lot of attention. You’ll find the best summary in Emilie Raguso’s October 11 article. For the District 3 race between incumbent Max Anderson and Dmitri Belser, read this. If you’re in District 2, weighing the choice between incumbent Darryl Moore and challengers Denisha DeLane and Adolfo Cabral, read our story that sees it as a battleground over Measure T.

School board

The three serious candidates for the two open seats, incumbent Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Judy Appel and Tracy Hollander, don’t have major policy differences, but they do bring very different experiences to the race. Berkeleyside looked at the different perspectives last week.

Rent board

Two rival slates, Berkeley Tenants United for Fairness and the Tenant Convention Slate, are vying for four open seats on the Rent Stabilization Board. Judith Scherr rounded up the differing views on Berkeleyside.

Measures

Voter’s Edge is the best source for a quick dip into all the measures. But we also focused more deeply on a few of the most contentious measures in Berkeley. On the sit ordinance, Measure S, check out our round-up of the arguments pro and con last week (one gauge of contention: that article has 146 comments and counting). On the West Berkeley Plan revisions, Measure T, we weighed viewpoints on both sides in an Oct. 29 article.

On Election Night, Berkeleyside will be liveblogging all the Berkeley results right here, and we’ll be active on both our Twitter feed (#berkvote) and Facebook. Readers are encouraged to chip in with their thoughts and observations, and send us your photos and videos of Election Day in Berkeley.

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  • The Sharkey

    After looking at landscapes littered with signs like what’s shown in the above picture (and seeing the rampant destruction and defacement of signs this year) I’ve decided that I would really like to see a complete ban on political signage on public property in Berkeley.

    It’s wasteful spending on things that visually pollute our public land for a few weeks and then go directly into landfill. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that a supposedly “green” city like Berkeley should be allowing.

  • Rachel Anderson

    As my wife worked her way through the ballot last night, we both agreed that we are more informed voters thanks to Berkeleyside.  The articles — and all the public comments — particularly about Measures S and T have been very thought-provoking and have helped clarify both the issues and our opinions.

    We’re glad and grateful Berkeleyside is a resource. 

     (And I invite others who feel similarly, and are in the position to do so, to become subscribers.)

  • Andrew

    Whoever has polluted our fair city with campaign signs will you please pick them all up first thing Wednesday morning! And BTW there are so many of them that they are useless. So much noise the message is completely lost.

  • Andrew

    Unfortunately, it is surely a “free speech” thing and you cannot disallow it. However, next election I vote that everyone throw in their own nonsense signs to drown out the political clutter. Or at least vote for those who don’t pollute our communities with their signs. And who votes based on seeing these signs anyway??? Seriously… do they make an impact?

  • Guest

     I agree. I think you folks are doing a good job.

  • http://berkeleyside.com Tracey Taylor

    Thank you Rachel and “guest” for your vote of confidence. We really appreciate hearing from you.

  • jjohannson

    In the future, Berkeleyside, I feel a more enlightened approach to endorsements would be to endorse local and state measures while opening up your internal editorial debate to scrutiny.  Your opinions are as or more informed than the community’s by virtue of your the work you do.  You would add, not detract, from our debate by opening up your deliberations, and bring sunshine to the new journalism you’re practicing.  What makes newspaper endorsements a relic is not the endorsements per se, but the unattributed nature of them.

    That said, of course, you’ve done great work this cycle.  Much appreciated.

  • The Sharkey

    Unfortunately, it is surely a “free speech” thing and you cannot disallow it.

    Even if everyone is banned equally from posting signs in the medians and in our public parks? It’s not like for-profit companies are allowed to post signs there.

  • guest

    Good idea.  Let’s have Council put up a ballot measure so that we can vote on it.  Can’t you see it – lawn signs urging us to “Vote NO on Lawn Signs.”

    “It’s wasteful spending…”

    I’d like to see more creative ways to contact voters, but what alternatives are there?

  • The Sharkey

    There are only about 114,000 people in Berkeley. How about some good old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning? How about more debates? How about more discussion of the issues?

    Flooding our streets with printed garbage that contains no more information than “YES on X!” or “NO on Y!” is the laziest possible way to appeal to voters I can think of.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     Sharkey for Mayor!

  • Tizzielish

    I feel pretty much the same way about the thick cardstock, high-gloss, many-colored marketing material I have received in the mail. Each day, recently, my mailbox is crammed with this junk. My first thought is always: how many trees took hits for this and what does the ink do to the watershed and whatever happened to environmental consciousness?

    AND . . . .it’s not like the material is informative. A very few pieces give information that helps me understand the many measures I am being asked to vote on but a brochure that loudly urges “NO on 39″ but does not say a single word about what the heck Measure 39 (if there is one, I’m just using a fake example to illustrate my frustration). I am not going to vote yes or no on something because of a slick, expensive campaign donation.

    If marketeres want my attention, send small, plain postcards with a brief paragraph summarizing the reasons the person paying for the postcard likes a certain measure and then let me decide. Don’t just ask like a car salesman and sell me to do what you want: create a relationship, give me info and then trust me and trust your belief in your cause.

    this crap in the mail is put corporate marketing advertising, not educating the citizenry. It’s noise, people fighting to make the most noise.

    On the local stuff, I am most persuaded when actual candidates show up at my weekly farmers market, hand me small modest postcards and ask me for my vote and stand there, willing and eager to talk to me about the issues related to whatever they care about.

    Signs? Noisey clutter that disrupts my commons. Gigantic glossy postcards slicky written to get a voter’s attention but give little data upon which sentient beings can form their own opinions.

    These aren’t horse races but marketing consultants behind campaigns increasing treat all campaigns, including measures, not just electing humans to jobs, are treated like horse races. Make the campaigns about educating voters, discussing pros and cons of measures and candidate position. .. Berkeleyside has done a great job of doing this.

    I will take one slick brochure to my polling place tomorrow: I want to be sure to vote for all the progressives running for rent board. The deceptive coalition, named as if its represents renters’ perspective when it is funded and focussed on landlord rights creeps me out so I want to be sure and vote for the others, i.e. the folks nominated at the rent board convention. I don’t know all the names of the progressive slate but I have spoken to each of them at various events — I did that cause I want to remember their names and give them my votes. I don’t want to get suckered into voting for the slickly-manipulative slate that calls itself ‘renters protection’ or some baloney like that.

    All the deception, outrights lies, clever marketing slickness that hides lies. . . is this what we have been reduced to?

    Thanks, Berkeleyside, for helping me cut through the baloney.

  • Tizzielish

    We can disallow signs placed on public property. Why not? It’s not a free speech issue. Folks can place all the signs they want on private property, as long as the property owner is okay with signs. But public property, like boulevards in the middle of Sacramento belong to us and we can indeed keep them free of all signs, political marketing (this is not campaigning, it is marketing) and business marketing.

  • Workin2Hard

    Beyond the “green” issue of printing and posting political signs along with the expressed concern about placement on public property I would like to add a safety concern to the list.  The over-abundance of field-of-vision height signage in medians is a hazard for pedestrians, bicyclists and the drivers.  I have observed numerous residents, on foot or on bikes, cut-off at the median because they could not be clearly spotted amongst the field of political signs.  
    If folks want to post them on their lawns, fences, etc. go ahead.  Creating a safety hazard?  I support eliminating public space posting.  

  • David D.

    Amusingly, the only deceptive phone calls (actually the only phone calls at all) that I’ve received are from the “progressive” (whatever that means these days) slate. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out; I’m happy TUFF is around to give them a legitimate challenge for once. The candidates have actually had to *gasp* talk about the issues!

  • The Sharkey

    I’ve seen far more signs and flyers from the Tenant Convention Slate (Soto-Vigil, Tregub, Shelton and Dodsworth) than I have from the “TUFF” slate.

    But perhaps that’s because the Worthington/McCormick supporters who are tearing up and defacing Tom Bates and Yes on T signs are destroying the TUFF slate’s signs as well.

  • Andrew

     The politicians always exempt themselves.

  • Anonymous

     Citizens United….

  • Mom

    Remember!  Election sign wire makes GREAT garden plant supports!  Compost those useless messages and support your soon to be growing daffodils and irises, then those darned overtall crocosmia, then your lilies, and tomatoEs, and then next you know it it’ll be dahia time again and next year’s election will be here!

  • EBGuy

    Berkeleyside + online campaign contribution reports = informed electorate. 

  • TimG

    Yes…Fred Dodsworth (Asa’s father, nonetheless!) is taking down TUFF signs. So sick of the “progressives” and their hypocrisy!!

    Time for change. Time to end “progressive” corruption!

    Vote Berkekey Tenants United for Fairness (Drake, Hunt, James, Shenoy)!!

  • Ed S.

    Agree 100% percent; whatever happened to face to face campaigning?  Particularly true since our City Council are voted on a district-wide rather than at-large basis.  Blown away that, in as politically active a City as Berkeley, I have never received a knock on my door by anyone running for Council. And I am in District 2, which has 3 candidates. Nor any of their campaign volunteers.  Agree, the gloss brochures that litter my steps are lazy and uninspired.     

  • The Sharkey

    Wow. The father of a “progressive” candidate actively stifling free speech? Only in Berkeley.

  • puminoshebang

    Can’t agree more re too much signage in public spaces, not to mention the plethora of mailed brochures, esp. from some campaigns to remain un-named. All the talk @ “green” this and that – How is that reflected in all that paper – eeeek!

  • tenjen

     Yup. Kudos to Berkeleyside. It’s great to have this news source.

  • Anonymous

     There were at least 6 debates, most of which were not covered anywhere, including here. There was a lot of campaigning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanneyada Suzanne Yada

    I’m still getting some $0 totals for measures O, P, Q and V on the Voters Edge page. I’m pretty sure there’s been money in at least measure O, right?

  • http://www.davosnewbies.com lknobel

    There were a lot of debates, it’s true.

    We covered one of the major mayoral debates and a school board debate. We just didn’t have the bandwidth to cover all the others.

    At one level, it’s great that there’s so much local community enthusiasm to host debates. Some rationalization, however, might make the debates more of an occasion and concentrate attention on the live airing of issues. Something to think about for next time.

  • TimG

    I know. It’s really sad.

  • http://www.davosnewbies.com lknobel

    All the money on N is also money for O. Rather than double counting, we only uploaded the totals to N.

  • The Sharkey

    Good point. Unfortunately a lot of them happened during times when the majority of the gainfully employed electorate was unavailable.

    It’d be nice if someone could start filming the debates and making them available online for people to watch at their leisure, like we do with the City Council meetings.

  • The Sharkey

    Is it just me, or do the flyers all seem a lot BIGGER this year?
    I’m used to getting 4″x6″ mailers, but we were getting full-size 8.5″x11″ glossy mailers for and against all kinds of different State propositions.

  • Lopeskm

    I realize I may be wanting to impinge on someone’s First Amendment rights, but I must say, I am almost inclined to vote AGAINST whomever has the most signs displayed.  Are there really Berkeley voters who are swayed by seeing street or home signs?  The number of signs has become truly offensive; I would lobby the city to limit the destruction of trees and urban beauty and order by banning this nonsensical method of supporting a candidate or issue!

  • Peixegato

    I hate all of the signs as well.  The waste of paper is shameful.  Berkeley is a modest-sized city.  It seems to me that it would be ripe for door-to-door direct voter contact.  How many people can say that someone has knocked on their door to promote a candidate or ballot initiative?  I haven’t.  But then maybe that’s because I live in South Berkeley.

  • Peixegato

    Oh, and I hate all of the flyers that are handed out at the BART stations, too.  Enough with the paper already.  It is a terrible waste of resources.  If you want my vote, then TALK to me.  Don’t shove a piece of paper in my face.

  • bgal4

     Peixegato,

    when I ran in 2004 I knocked on every door in district 3, if folks were not home I signed a card saying stopped by. I lost to the political machine candidate who did not knock on a single door.

    Dmitri has been knocking on doors in district 3 after work, he has found that plenty of folks have little if any knowledge of  local issues, and plenty do not even know the name of their council member.

     It is too easy to blame candidates and ignore the reason why the electorate is so disengaged.

  • http://www.BerkeleyWaterfront.org/ Paul Kamen

    Hey Sharkey – send me an email (address is in my profile). Let’s get together for election return viewing. I’ve already invited some of our worthy adversaries. You can attend incognito – should be fun.

    SAVE AQUATIC PARK — Vote YES on T 

  • anonymous

     Last count of Pro-S: $110k.  That buys a lot of cardboard–and endorsers.

  • Guest

    Darryl’s campaign had a volunteer come by my house on Saturday a few weeks ago. Pretty sure his campaign’s had people walking on the weekends

  • Guest

     I’m confused by what you’re saying—-Berkeleyside didn’t make any endorsements, so how could they be more “enlightened” in their approach to them? Are you asking them to make endorsements next time?

  • anonymous

     There are at least three videos, including one complete debate, posted here for viewing:

    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2012-10-19/article/40370?headline=Watch-the-Berkeley-Election-on-Video–

  • Peixegato

    I didn’t “blame the candidates”.  I simply asked a question.  You answered it for yourself and one other candidate.  I applaud your efforts. 

  • The Sharkey

    I guess I should have specified videos from a reputable source.

    Carol Denney’s asinine “Competitive Sitting” video is even less informative than a lawn sign.

  • anonymous

     One is just a straight video of a debate without comment, another is from the league of women voters, and the third that you complain about is just humorous.  Why are you so narrow-minded?  If you couldn’t make it to any of the evening debates, you could at least have watched one online. There’s no excuse for being militant about being uninformed, but I guess that’s why you don’t even have the sense to vote for Obama like normal people.

  • guest

     One problem is that a huge amount of outside money came into this Berkeley election from developers and real estate interests, and the groups they support have spent their considerable fortunes on too many signs and mailers.  We need campaign spending limits with teeth to control these “independent expenditures”.

  • The Sharkey

    Oh, right, not agreeing with you and not liking Carol’s childish stunts and grotesque oversimplifications of issues makes me “narrow-minded” and “uninformed.”

    Suggesting that maybe all the debates ought to be streamed and put online by a nonpartisan organization (such as the City website) seems like common sense to me, but it seems like people in Berkeley are itching to fight about anything at all.

    ______________________
    RE: Voting for Obama again, if you want to vote for a warmonger after whining about Bush and his illegal wars for nigh well 8 years that’s your business. Me, I’m not quite that big of a hypocrite. Obama’s going to carry California and win the election anyway, so it’s not like it matters.

  • The Sharkey

    The only signs I see in favor of Measure T (paid for by those big scary developers) are the ones that No on T campaigners have defaced.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan