Election 2016: Who is Kriss Worthington?

Photo: Courtesy of Kriss Worthington
Photo: Courtesy of Kriss Worthington

Name: Kriss Worthington

Age: 62

Job: City Council member District 7

What office are you are running for? Mayor


What is the main reason you are running? I am encouraging my supporters to use Ranked Choice Voting to vote for both me and Council Member Jesse Arreguin. We differ stylistically and politically, but he has demonstrated immense skills at bringing people together and bridging political divides.

Capitelli sounds nice, but makes frightening claims that we need to cut $14,000,000 per year for 30 years to cover unfunded pensions . His calculations do not properly factor in that we have nearly a billion dollars invested through CalPERS. I strongly support increased funds for unfunded liabilities, but his repeated distortions of budget, and other, information is scary.

Why are you qualified for the position? I am qualified for the position because I negotiated hundreds of compromises to move forward both common sense practical reforms and trailblazing policies. My office empowered interns to write about 2000 Council items, which mostly won. For many years, my appointees include the most Asian and Pacific Islander, the most African American, and the most Latina/o Commissioners. Together we increased inclusion by actively reaching out to neglected or disrespected communities including the South and West Berkeley, Veterans, Disabled, Seniors, LGBT and Jewish communities. I appointed the most student commissioners, and championed successful zoning changes to build thousands more beds of student housing close to campus. I spearheaded numerous policies on Fiscal Responsibility, Public Safety, Technological Innovation, and created Quarterly Work Sessions on Economic Development.

What sets you apart from other candidates? What sets me apart is my ability to be a whistleblower strongly opposing illegal or immoral actions, then negotiate improvements and co-sponsorships with the violators. My repeated concern about a company overcharging the City was validated by a $289,000 refund. My concern about mistreatment of the librarians who challenged inaccurate Director reports led to technical proof that about 39,000 objects were discarded rather than the under-reported 2,200. As unofficial Parliamentarian questioning mistreatment of the public and breaking of council rules, my questions led to City Attorney and/or Mayoral corrections. Even in this campaign I am the whistleblower fact checking false claims that Capitelli “led” minimum wage increases , when the truth is actually that SIX TIMES he was the deciding vote to stop increases.

How did you end up in Berkeley? I ended up in Berkeley because my boyfriend wanted to move here to go to graduate school. He came first and looked for an apartment but could not find one. When I arrived from Hawaii, after the first apartment interview, the woman said ” You sound like wonderful fellows. you can move in right away.” With such a blessed welcome it felt like coming to Berkeley was the perfect place to be.


What are the three biggest challenges Berkeley faces in the near future?

The three biggest challenges in the NEAR future are Saving Alta Bates Hospital and Affordable Housing/Homelessness solutions. The most time-sensitive immediate challenge is ensuring voters understand the current local ballot measures. The most important ballot measures are YES on E1, YES on U1, and NO on DD. YES on E1 for continuing public school support is extraordinarily important to our kids, parents, teachers, and our image as a humane civilized city. YES on U1 is a well thought out measure put on the ballot by all nine council members. NO on DD because it is dreadfully deceptive and punishes tenants and small landlords alike. YES on X1 for Campaign Finance Reform could reduce negative effects of money on politics.

What are your ideas to solve them? 

What you have done is a better predictor of the future than what you say. My interns researched what has happened in other cities facing hospital closures. They discovered multiple examples where closures were prevented. Each case appeared to share similar principles of strong government and community opposition, followed by community organizing and coalition building to create the needed pressure. Our interns worked with local nurse and doctor experts and created a resolution to strongly oppose closure. The resolution’s first co-sponsor was Lori Droste and it was passed unanimously. Since then coalition efforts have led to more cities, including El Cerrito and Oakland adopting similar resolutions. We need to build on this momentum by expanding the coalition. A strong but sensible approach can succeed at convincing Sutter Corporation to meet the needs of Berkeley patients and those of nearby Alameda County and Contra Costa County patients as well.

My 27-point short term Affordable Housing Action Plan was delayed seven months under current council conditions, then almost all were referred for study. We need to end the delay and defeat of positive ideas, and move forward with action on solutions to such urgent issues. I introduced 49 ideas, Councilmember Arreguin introduced a few dozen ideas, Mayor Bates introduced about ten and other Council members introduced a few as well. We need to prioritize and commit to action rather than talk. As steps towards housing for the homeless we need an action plan as well. Solutions include: shifting the 35% of Police calls that deal with mental health issues to mental health staff which will save a lot of money and free up police time for addressing serious crime. Existing non-profits could be better coordinated and/or consolidated. We also need detox, more public restrooms, and consideration of Navigation Centers.


What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? The Tuesday City Council Circus atmosphere can be improved by scheduling special meetings with only one topic, when there is a major controversial issue. This will prevent major issues being discussed late at night after most of the public left exasperated. It will allow more participation at a reasonable hour.

How will you be accessible to constituents? I will continue to surprise constituents by personally answering their phone calls when I am between meetings. I will be accessible to constituents by attending numerous community events, and listening to the people’s problems, questions, and suggestions. Previously I introduced multiple proposals of how to use technology and social media to increase public participation by residents who can not attend meetings. Also by having a diverse office staff who are approachable and keep track of all issues and ensure follow-up until resolution of the concerns.

How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? Our budget will be however much people donate.

A final thought? Thanks to Ranked Choice Voting you can vote for up to three Mayoral candidates. I am encouraging my supporters to use Ranked Choice Voting to vote for both me and Council Member Jesse Arreguin. We differ stylistically and politically, but he has demonstrated immense skills at bringing people together and bridging political divides. Other candidates have potential for a bright future, like Ben Gould, or have focused attention on important issues like Mike Lee and Berndt Wahl. Because of Jesse’s extensive record bringing people together, I encourage my supporters to vote for me and Jesse Arreguin.

Campaign information

Website: http://www.krissworthington.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kriss4mayor

See past Berkeleyside coverage related to Kriss Worthington. See complete 2016 election coverage on Berkeleyside.