Vote-by-mail election coming to downtown Berkeley

Ben Gould and Kate Harrison and duking it out to represent downtown residents on the Berkeley City Council. Photos: Courtesy of the candidate campaigns

Despite the new calendar year, “Election 2016” is not quite over in Berkeley. Downtown residents will have another chance to cast a ballot, beginning Feb. 6, to choose the next City Council representative for the district.

The election will only be conducted by mail, and residents will have from Feb. 6 through March 7 to send in their choices. Ballots will be postage-paid, and must be postmarked by Election Day, March 7. They must be received by March 10 to be counted.

Voters may return their ballot by mail or drop them off in the permanent ballot box in front of 2180 Milvia St. Voters have until Feb. 20 to register, in person or online. Residents who don’t know which district they are in can use a district locator provided by the city of Berkeley.

Former district Councilman Jesse Arreguín was elected mayor of the city in November after longtime Mayor Tom Bates stepped down, leaving an open seat on council until the election takes place.


Several people pulled papers to vie for the seat, but only two ultimately qualified for the ballot: 25-year-old Berkeley native Ben Gould, who ran for mayor in November and is endorsed by council members Susan Wengraf and Lori Droste, and Arreguín-pick Kate Harrison, 58, a leader with the Berkeley Tenants Union and co-founder of the Berkeley Progressive Alliance.

Campaign finance information has not been filed for either candidate.

The downtown City Council district. Image: City of Berkeley

The Berkeley Progressive Alliance is holding an endorsement meeting Sunday at 2 p.m. where both candidates are set to speak. (The meeting is open to the public though only members of the alliance can vote on the endorsement.)

Other candidate events are set for Jan. 12 with the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club (no further information was immediately available), and with the League of Women Voters for Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville on Thursday, Jan. 19, 7-9 p.m., at Berkeley Community Media, 2239 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The League event is set to be recorded and posted on YouTube. An RSVP is requested due to space constraints.

According to a Dec. 8 council vote, the special election is set to cost $158,500. Conducting the election by mail reduces the cost by 40%, according to the council item.

Gould, a graduate student in public policy at UC Berkeley, finished fourth in the mayoral race, behind Arreguín, former Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Councilman Kriss Worthington.

In addition to the Arreguín endorsement, Harrison has gotten the support of council members Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn.

Harrison has said she is in favor of “city, not developer-driven development.” Rather than waiting for developers to come forward with ideas for tall buildings, she told Berkeleyside in December, the city should figure out what it wants, to help developers create projects with community benefits that the city has identified as important. She also wants to get residents involved earlier in the planning process, she said.

Gould has said he wants to make Berkeley “more affordable, inclusive and sustainable.” He formerly chaired the Community Environmental Advisory Commission, though he was replaced by Councilwoman Cheryl Davila after the November election.

Though both candidates are passionate about Berkeley, their views do diverge. Gould, for example, supported the Harold Way multi-story downtown development that Harrison opposed.

The District 4 council term vacated by Arreguín runs through November 2018.

Learn more about Ben Gould and Kate Harrison on their websites.

Related:
Ben Gould enters campaign for District 4 council seat (12.07.16)
Kate Harrison begins campaign for District 4 Council seat (12.01.16)
Election 2016: Who is Ben Gould?

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