After loss, mayoral candidates say voters want change

Councilman Kriss Worthington, District 7, believes mayoral challengers like him helped stop a drift to the right in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates may have won re-election Tuesday, but his challengers say their campaigns still made a difference.

Councilman Kriss Worthington, second place finisher, said he knew the odds were daunting.

“I knew that running against an incumbent with a lot of money who had been in office for 34 years was not a cake walk,” he said. “But I also knew that allowing it to be a coronation where he got 70% or 75% of the votes would mean the drift to the right might continue.”

Worthington had garnered 21.2% of the vote as of Wednesday evening, with perhaps as many as 20,000 ballots still to be counted.

Jacquelyn McCormick, who had 11.3% of the votes by yesterday, and came in third in the mayoral race, said she felt the re-election of Mayor Bates spelled bad news for Berkeley. Reading Mayor Bates’ comments in Berkeleyside yesterday, she said, it was “hard to take his arrogance.” “We need change. [Bates] is pushing an agenda on the backs of everyone who lives in this city.”

Jacquelyn McCormick: “It’s hard to take Mayor Bates’ arrogance.” Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Worthington said he’d already noticed a policy shift to the left on the council since he embarked on his campaign, citing recent “key votes” on affordable housing and immigration issues that had previously been delayed.

“I feel like the policies have already gotten better,” said Worthington. “Being in the election pressure cooker, (other candidates) came out leaning more liberally than they had been in the last two years.”

He said it also was notable that Measure S and Measure T appeared to have been, as of Wednesday evening, defeated. [This may change for Measure T, which, as of Wednesday’s count was down to a 26 gap between the yes votes and the no votes.] Whatever the final outcome, said Worthington, the close races were a sign that many Berkeley voters support a more humane approach to responding to homelessness, along with a more measured method for planning development in West Berkeley.

“I think that the Berkeley voters have seemingly generally sided with progressive policies on the issues that they got to vote on,” he said. “The more that people look at these things, the more they start to question. So I think the entire campaign gave people a chance to think and ask questions. Certainly the voters are really questioning the policy direction.”

Worthington said the vote on the measures was an indication the Bates may need to rethink his approach going forward: “A whole bunch of people have fond memories of Tom Bates from his 34 years in office, but they didn’t endorse his controversial current hot-button issues. That’s really what we’re up against, all those people who remembered him from the past.”

McCormick said she didn’t regret the decision to run. “We are very proud of what we accomplished. We pushed and pushed. I wore my feet out on the campaign trail. Am I disappointed? Yes. But we got some great coalitions built and forged great connections. We don’t have to face a Measure S again in the city.”

She stressed how the re-election of Bates shed light on what she referred to as “the power of the political machine.” “With Loni [Hancock, Mayor Bates’ wife and a State Senator], it goes beyond local politics. They were able to raise double or triple the amount of money and they had leverage.”

But McCormick added: “If there’s a political machine as part of the regime, then we will have to build our own political machine.”

Worthington said, going forward, he’d like to see Bates take a more serious look at his appointees to city bodies to ensure that there’s greater diversity among them.

“The public can’t vote down his appointments,” he said. “We need to keep the pressure on him to be fair to all the groups in the city, including the students. He needs to give everybody a chance.”

As for McCormick, she ran against Councilman Gordon Wozniak for his District 8 seat in 2010. Asked if she might consider doing so again when the position is up for grabs in two years’ time, she said it’s a maybe. “I don’t know what life events will happen between then and now. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility.”

Measure T gap narrows to 26 votes [11.07.12]
Mayor Bates hails election as harbinger of change [11.07.12]
Remaining Berkeley votes could change close contests [11.07.12]
Live blogging the Berkeley elections: all the final results [11.06.12]
Measure T: Will it enhance or ruin West Berkeley? [10.29.12]

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  • Berkeleyan

    Oh shut up, Kriss. 

  • The Sharkey

    If Worthington thinks the people want change, why does he defend the status quo time and time again?

  • dsd510

    Thank you for running, Councilman Worthington! I wish you had won.

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    I keep wondering now much McCormick’s glasses frames cost. 

  • Guest

     That’s what I’ve been thinking. People complained about the headline in the article here about how Mayor Bates said the election shows that people want change, because they see his election as more of the same. However, I see his election as a rejection of the peculiar definition of “progressive” that Berkeley seems to use that means simply maintaining the status quo. Bates doesn’t want to protect and keep Berkeley as it is, like so many others seem to want.

  • bgal4

     McCormick is a lovely woman, this comment is just silly. The entire eye wear industry is a rip off, you and if know how I can purchase well fitting frames without designer labels please inform me.

  • The results of the election show a divided city. Half the voters in the city support the mayor’s agenda; half the voters oppose it. But when faced with the question of firing the mayor and moving forward with either someone completely new or the mayor’s seasoned political nemesis, the majority decided the status quo was the safest move.

    It will be interesting to see how this council sets about drawing its new boundary lines now that Measure R has passed.  I wonder how the progressive minority bloc will fair when the lines have been drawn for the next decade or more.

  • serkes

    “But I also knew that allowing it to be a coronation where he got 70% or
    75% of the votes would mean the drift to the right might continue.”

    Only in Berkeley!


  • David D.

    Worthington and McCormick seem to have missed the boat on this. Like many voters, I suppose, I am not particularly fond of Tom Bates.  He’s past retirement age, as far as I’m concerned, and he has done at least one deed in a past election that is nearly unforgivable. I would like to vote for change if I could.

    However, none of the three candidates offer real change. Tom Bates offers the closest thing to change: He supported T, which would bring real, progressive change to West Berkeley that puts our “money” where our environmentalist “mouth” is. He also supported S, which would have brought substantial change (good or bad, depending upon your viewpoint) to our daily lives here in Berkeley.

    This is why Bates won in a landslide. He won by such a large margin that RCV didn’t even factor into his win. This is an undeniable acknowledgement by the majority of Berkeley voters that anti-development-posing-as-progressive Worthington and just-say-no-to-everything McCormick don’t offer what they want.

    I strongly urge Worthington and McCormick to go back to their policy drawing boards, move to the 21st Century, and get a better handle on what the majority of the city’s voters want if they have future mayoral aspirations. Worthington can do this the easiest: Show us that you have the ability to lead, the ability to help, the ability to have vision. Do something about the state of Telegraph Avenue. You’ve already been on the council for years. We’re waiting.

  • Irisandjules

    Costco I heard. Interesting piece on 60 minutes about how most of the frames were produced by the same factory (and they design them too) for most of the labels around the world. Competition, what?

  • Irisandjules

    Yes, Berkeley is a true bubble. Like so many others, a social-democrat, a proud liberal from Massachusetts feels like a conservative in Berkeley.

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    It was meant as a cynical joke, but still they are probably expensive and worth it as they make a statement. 

    She is very stylish. I voted for her.

  • Left Banker

    Perhaps Ms McCormick is a bit math-challenged? Garnering roughly one vote in nine is hardly an affirmation of her call for change. And Mayor Bates’s bloe-out win has to be read as a clear message of support.

    Of course, it’s not in the nature of a dilletante to see herself in a realistic light.

  • bgal4

     Yeah Leslie Stahl’s piece was excellent. I will give Costco a try.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Because he and his acolytes have no stake in change.  Their ideas are tired and outmoded.  But activism is all they know.  

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Sharp analysis, except for the last bit — I don’t think Worthington can redeem himself.  If he did put forth a new policy agenda, would anyone really believe he was sincere after all we’ve seen from him?  I wouldn’t.

  • Doc

    Tom invited the city to see what he’s been doing with Downtown. They liked what they saw and voted for him. On the day Kriss can clean-up People’s Park and Telegraph, invite the city, and we are impressed, he will be ready for higher office. Until then wish he’s stop running and instead do something for his district.

  • The Sharkey

    So true!

    Hearing a sore loser like Worthington call Bates a right-winger might be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.

  • The Sharkey

    Well, maybe. If he managed to do a complete 180 and actually come up with some ideas for once instead of just saying “NO!” to everything and if those ideas worked and fixed Telly, I could see it.

  • bgal4

     Math Challenged? Is that why Tom Bates mimicked McCormick answers to budget questions from the Tribune editorial board.

  • The Sharkey

    Disqus formatting fail.

  • Mbfarrel

     “But I also knew that allowing it to be a coronation where he got 70% or
    75% of the votes would mean the drift to the right might continue.”

    One can only hope.

  • The Sharkey

    Worthington is a great campaigner, and a terrible Council member.
    Lucky for him, he gets most of his votes from students who aren’t in town long enough to see how bad he is at his job.

  • Mbfarrel

    ” He’s past retirement age,”
    Ageist nonsense. Who do you think you are?
    WE were young before you were born!
    We’re the original…

  • anon

    Correction: Worthington is a terrible campaigner, regardless of what you think of his performance in the Council.

  • N. Berk Lifelong Glasses Weaer

    Warby Parker (.com) is an online ‘cool’ glasses frame place – most – if not all –  of their frames are under $145, which includes typical, non-bifocal RX lenses.  I’ve gotten several pairs from them.  You can ‘borrow’ up to 5 pairs at a time to try on at home.

  • anon

    There are those who want change and progress at all costs, and throw caution to the wind. 
    There are those who also want change, but care about what kind of change, and are cautious about discarding things that work well enough.
    I may be wrong, but I assume Worthington belongs to the second category.

  • The Sharkey

    As far as I can tell, you’re wrong. The only kind of “change” Worthington seems to want is to add more official holidays to the City calendar.

  • The Sharkey

    I don’t like it, but he seems to keep getting elected.

  • Add

    “Seasoned”? How about “stewed” Joash?

  • guest

    The only kind of change Worthington wants, is not change at all unless, we create more free services.

  • Mark P.

    Sour grapes.  I’d never vote for KRISS for a lot of reasons, anybody but…  But now I don’t think I’d ever vote for McCorkmick either.  Better to have been gracious in defeat.

  • anon

    Well… in his district, yes: but did you SEE the campaign he just ran? As someone who is interested in shaking things up Mayor-wise, though not necessarily in any particular candidate that we had a chance to vote for, I have to say, it was grassroots enough to be practically under ground.
    The guy seemed practically ambitionless.

  • Stephanie Allan

    If you count up all the votes that all the other people running against Tom got, he still won.  It wasn’t the money.  Has it ever occurred to the Worthington ego that people think Bates is doing a good job and aren’t interested in empty rhetoric from a person of no vision?

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     why is berkeley such a mess if he’s doing such a “good” job?

  • guest

    “Half the voters in the city support the mayor’s agenda; half the voters oppose it.”

    Are you sure of this statement.  I care a lot and pay attention but cannot describe “the mayor’s agenda” unless it is the Romneyesque I should be mayor because I should be mayor.

  • guest

    I might even be OK with the existing “mess.”

    What is utterly irksome is to see him make new ones that would be just fine if he just left them alone.  One example is his “leadership” in thumbing his nose at BPD in the guise of refusing to cooperate with ICE.  Another example is his pink-beret-wearing “leadership” in thumbing his nose at Berkeley’s Marine Corps and other military families (including mine) along with everybody who understands that the excellence of the US armed forces directly helps all of us everywhere. 

  • Berkeleyfarm

    Having seen Worthington in action … you are wrong. 

  • Berkeleyfarm

    I tended to think so before, because she was for “fiscal responsibility” but appeared to be vehemently anti-development, which would limit the attendant money into city coffers.  The math wasn’t adding up.  But yeah, one in nine isn’t much of a mandate. 

  • Berkeleyfarm

    The O School has quite a selection. 

  • Actually, I’d kind of like to see Kriss in the State legislature, where his ideology might possibly be brought to bear on something useful and relevant. And we’d get him out of Berkeley, too…

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Problem is that he has his own machine going on, producing clones like Arreguin and now Soto-Vigil.  

    Did anyone read Arreguin’s council endorsements in the BDP?  Lots of railing against “Big Business” — made me wonder how these “activists,” who’ve never held a real job, imagine that we’ll pay for the programs they envision.  

  • Gus

    You’re obviously not paying attention.

  • Gus

    Man, you really need to look around outside of Berkeley. Berkeley is not a mess in any sense of the word. 

    Oakland is a mess. Richmond is a mess. Vacaville is a mess Even SF is in much worse shape, fiscally and politically, than Berkeley. Even Berkeley in the early 90s was in much worse shape that is now.

    Maybe being in Berkeley for three generations has made you a little myopic.

  • guest

     Thanks for letting me know that.

  • TBF

    I think that both Kriss Worthington and Ms. McCormick are thoughtful individuals.  However, I’m also of the opinion that a “progressive” mayor is not good for the community as a whole.  For our community to thrive, there needs to be persons in charge that are willing to make choices that give the greatest consideration to the full time / long term residents and the businesses (mostly small businesses) that serve us.  Perhaps there is a view by progressive that “Berkeley values” are floundering under our Mayor.  I sense that those values as defined in the past (anti war, tolerance for people of difference race, religion, sexual orientation, strong support for women’s rights, etc.) remain as strong as ever.  Full time residents don’t view their is a need to give up the concept of having a livable, walkable, safe community (one that is economically prosperous) in order to support liberal policies.  Approaching a campaign by stating “I’d like more students to be placed in positions of power because they make much better decisions for the community at large” (which is how I’d paraphrase Worthington’s campaign), or by stating “we are needing drasting change because our community has lost its soul” (which is how I’d parapharse McCormick’s campaign) is not going to be a strategy that would encouarge me to vote for either individual – regardless of whom they run against – and clearly it did not convince a majority of Berkeley voters. 

  • guest

    Maybe Judy Appel should run for mayor.

    NP – Judy Appel                                                                                       19737

    NP – Tom Bates

  • Guest

    As you can see from the top 2 finishers for rent board, there were some serious Judy coattails.

  • The Sharkey

    I want to like Jesse because he seems so friendly and polite (especially compared to Worthington) but he’s just so naive. We need more pragmatism in out City government, not the feel-good, impractical idealism that Arreguin often advocates. Business, both big and small, is a crucial part of Berkeley. Constantly demonizing the business community and business interests is bad for Berkeley.

  • bgal4

    McCormick campaign was focused on urgency to implement the city auditor’s recommendations on fiscal policies.  Clearly you did not listen to any debate, read the Tribune endorsement editorial or her literature. 

    I know there is a concerted effort by Bates insiders to dismiss McCormick and link her politics with the failures of Worthington. Co-option is a typical Bates strategy. The current council has been far too slow and lacking in leadership to implement necessary  fiscal reforms. A small group of concerns citizens have provided the missing leadership since 2004 election, McCormick’s group Budget SOS did excellent work.

    The deficient will force council to act.

    McCormick agenda represents sound proactive governance.