Tag Archives: Berkeley politics

Op-ed: Preserve public safety — Do not tie undergrounding utilities to disaster preparedness

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Disaster preparedness and undergrounding utilities have become campaign issues in the District 6 Council race because the incumbent, Susan Wengraf, put “Improving Public Safety” at the top of her list of accomplishments and said she improved public safety because she “initiated a plan to underground all utilities in Berkeley to make streets safe for evacuation”. However, there is no existing plan for undergrounding all utilities in Berkeley, nor will undergrounding all utilities in Berkeley make streets safe for evacuation in case … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: We need Darryl Moore on Berkeley City Council

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It’s simple – we need Moore.  We are facing both good times and challenging times, and that is a moment when civic experience matters. We need to reelect Darryl Moore for Berkeley City Council, District 2. When divisive politics and meaningless soundbites rule the airwaves, turning people against one another, we need a leader who will focus on the core issues for our neighborhoods to create a stable, progressive, inclusive, and positive community that will grow and succeed in … Continue reading »

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Top contenders for Berkeley mayor have sharp differences towards development

Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín are the two top contenders to replace Mayor Tom Bates. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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For the first time in 10 years, Berkeley does not have an incumbent mayor running for reelection. Mayor Tom Bates, who took office by defeating incumbent Shirley Dean in 2002, is stepping down and relinquishing his leadership of a City Council where he has long commanded the majority.

The open seat has attracted eight people to run for office, with two sitting councilmen, Jesse Arreguín and Laurie Capitelli, as the top contenders. City Councilman Kriss Worthington is also running for mayor, but his muted campaign and low level of fundraising suggest he entered the race more to influence the outcome of ranked-choice voting than to win (although Worthington does not say that). Worthington is upfront about telling people to vote for him and Arreguín as first and second choices on the ballot (or the other way around) as a way to knock out Capitelli.

The other candidates are Ben Gould, a UC Berkeley graduate student, Guy “Mike” Lee, a homeless activist, Bernt Wahl, a scientist and entreprenuer, Zachary RunningWolf, an indigenous elder, and Naomi D. Pete.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

In any other U.S. city, both Arreguín and Capitelli would be regarded as ultra-liberal candidates. But this being Berkeley, where residents have long parsed slight variations in the Democratic party line, Capitelli is being cast by some as the “moderate” in the race and Arreguín as the “progressive.” Arreguín has even called Capitelli “conservative.”

A close examination of the men’s records shows they have both fought in their own way for affordable housing, a considered approach to addressing the issue of homelessness, and a strategy to repair Berkeley’s infrastructure and pare down its unfunded liabilities. But their philosophies toward development are radically different and their emphases as mayor would diverge. … Continue reading »

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District 6 candidates clash over development, homeless

Appearing in ballot order, top row from left, District 6 candidates: Susan Wengraf, Fred Dodsworth, Isabelle Gaston. Photos: Courtesy
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With less than two weeks until election day, District 6 incumbent Susan Wengraf has raised more than twice the cash as both her opponents — Fred Dodsworth and Isabelle Gaston — combined, according to the latest campaign filings.

Stark differences between the candidates emerged during a candidate panel sponsored by the League of Women Voters in early October, Dodsworth and Gaston appearing more closely aligned against Wengraf than each other. As cash separates the candidates, so too do their platforms.

Among the most contentious and disputed at the candidate forum were the perennial issues of affordable housing and development as well as how to handle the city’s homeless population.

The two challengers doubled down on isolationism as a response to the housing crisis and railed against bureaucratic cronyism and fiscal irresponsibility of the city’s government.

“Oakland has plenty of room, El Cerrito has plenty of room, and so do Walnut Creek and Concord,” Dodsworth said. “It’s not our obligation to feed everyone in the world, it’s only our responsibility to take care of people who live here now.”Continue reading »

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As election nears, contributions and complaints mount

SEIU Local 1021 has donated $24,000 this election cycle to help candidates it supports. Its funds went into an independent expenditure committee that paid for this website.
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An independent expenditure group backed by one of Berkeley’s largest unions has poured $8,112 into Jesse Arreguín’s mayoral campaign, spending the funds on a website and literature that promote his views.

The independent expenditure group is named the “Berkeley Working Families Supporting Arreguín and Worthington for Mayor, Moore and Bartlett for City Council, Tregub, Soto-Vigil, Murphy, and Simon-Weisberg for Rent Board 2016.”

SEIU Local 1021, which represents Berkeley’s library workers, clerical workers, maintenance staff, recreational staff and health workers has put in $24,000, according to campaign finance reports.

The group has also spent about $163 each on a number of candidates, including Kriss Worthington, who is running for mayor, Darryl Moore and Ben Bartlett, who are running for City Council, and Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Christina Murphy, Igor Tregub, and Leah Simon-Weisberg, who are running for rent board.

Thursday at midnight is another campaign finance deadline that might show where the rest of the funds have been spent. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside’s Voter’s Edge guide helps you sort through the candidates, measures in the Nov. 8 election

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Confused about measures T1, U1 and V1? Want a quick rundown on the candidates for Berkeley mayor, or your local council seat? Berkeleyside would encourage you to check out our own voluminous coverage to really dig into the details. But this election we’ve also partnered with Maplight to give you a powerful tool to sort through candidates and measures up and down the ballot.

Voter’s Edge gives you a personalized ballot, with information on endorsements, positions, donors and more in one easy-to-use site.

See Berkeleyside’s 2016 Election Hub for all our coverage.

Depending on which council district you live in, your ballot probably has 12 or 13 different races (from president to mayor to school board to Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District director) and 32 — yes, 32 — different ballot measures.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why 11 current and former Berkeley elected officials endorse Laurie Capitelli

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We are former and current Berkeley elected officials who are united in our support for Laurie Capitelli as our next mayor. With our direct firsthand experience, we all deeply appreciate Laurie’s love for Berkeley, his trustworthiness, good humor, compassion, decency and intelligence. We urge you to vote for Laurie as your first choice.

Laurie is a team builder. A leader in the campaign to tax the soda industry, Laurie built the broad coalition and served on the steering committee that beat Big Soda. Laurie has the collaborative skills and leadership that are needed to continue the fight for public health and ensure that Alta Bates continues to serve our community.

Laurie is a mediator and consensus builder. Laurie negotiated the groundbreaking $15 minimum wage, bringing together labor, businesses and nonprofits in a historic agreement. Prior to this achievement, Laurie co-authored and led the passage of two $15 minimum wage measures in 2015 and 2016, which were among the most progressive wage measures in the nation, reaching $15 several years faster than the state of California.

Laurie believes in the transformative power of education and has raised millions of dollars for our public schools. As a former school teacher, Laurie is committed to closing Berkeley’s achievement gap by establishing universal preschool. It’s no surprise that every endorsing School Board member supports Laurie. … Continue reading »

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2 weeks before election, soda tax debate intensifies

Proponents of Oakland's Measure HH are canvasing and phonebanking in an effort to raise awareness among voters. Photo: Oakland V.S. Big Soda/ Facebook
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In less than two weeks, the Bay Area may have the most cities with the highest concentration of excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). On Nov. 8, citizens in Oakland, Albany and San Francisco will head to the polls to decide whether they will follow in the footsteps of Berkeley to implement a soda tax. Voters in Boulder, Colo., will also be deciding on a similar measure.

Read more about the Berkeley soda tax on Berkeleyside/Nosh.

In fall 2014, Berkeley pioneered the nation’s first soda tax, known as Measure D, which placed a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of SSBs. Both Oakland and Albany’s measures will, if passed, enact the same tax. 

SSBs is a designation applying to sodas, energy drinks, pre-sweetened teas and caloric sweeteners, which have been linked to high rates of chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. The designation excludes infant formula, milk products and fruit and vegetable juices. Policymakers in favor of Measure D believed the measure would decrease the consumption of SSBs, which would be a first step in combating associated chronic illness. Some studies seem to back this up (see below).Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Don’t let developers buy Berkeley’s election

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In Berkeley, it’s sometimes easy to feel like our local politics are immune to the kind of cronyism and monied influence that afflicts most localities. After all, we like to think of ourselves as a well-informed, progressive city. We opposed Citizen’s United. We want money out of politics . . . Bernie Sanders did very well here in the primary…so we would never vote for people or ballot measures that have been bought by corporate, big monied special interests.

Or would we?

Sadly, Big Money has arrived in Berkeley – in the form of Big Development – and more than ever before, they are busy trying to buy this election. Berkeley voters deserve to know which candidates and campaigns are being influenced – bought – by huge infusions of cash from those whose only interest in Berkeley is to maximize their own profits. These folks do NOT have the community’s best interests at heart, or in mind, but they are pouring cash in right now: developers, landlords and the consultants who depend on them to make a living, as well as national, state and local political action committees (PACs). … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Vote yes on U1 and no on Measure DD to fund affordable housing

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The affordability crisis in rental housing is clear to everyone. Rising rents create hardship for tenants and result in unprecedented profits for large landlords. Taxing those windfall profits to provide affordable housing is the right thing to do. That’s why a broad community coalition of affordable housing and homeless services advocates created Measure U1 and persuaded a unanimous City Council to put it on the ballot.

Measure U1 will raise at least $3.5 million that can be used for affordable housing every year. It increases the business license tax that larger landlords already pay by an average of just $30 per unit per month.

Large landlords can easily afford to pay this tax. They are charging $82 million more in rent per year than just a few years ago. Landlords are prohibited by law from passing this tax onto tenants with few exceptions. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Some insights into ranked choice voting in Berkeley

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I recently read your coverage of Berkeley candidates for the Nov. 8 election. One city council candidate encouraged voters to only vote for her and not rank other candidates — this is a political tactic called “bullet voting” — and suggested ranked choice voting has “unintended consequences.”

Bullet Voting

I would like to point out that some campaigns mistakenly believe that if their supporters rank other candidates second or third, this would somehow dilute the strength of that voter’s … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A better way to address the housing crisis

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After so much media coverage of the bizarre presidential race, I find it refreshing to finally start to hear more about local races, where an eclectic cast of characters contending for many local offices are discussing hugely important issues that impact our daily lives, including one of the Bay Area’s favorite hot button issues: housing.

This issue is near and dear to my heart. Having grown up in the Mission District in San Francisco and having lived in the Bay … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Equitable access to quality education has the power to transform society — Vote yes on Measure E1

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Berkeley has long been recognized for its diversity and openness to differences, intellectual curiosity and civic engagement.

The values of this city resonate with us as a family. A city that believes and stands for social good and gathers around each other for real collective action – be it opposition to the Vietnam War or equal access for disabled individuals – setting the stage for the country to follow its lead. A city that values equitable access to quality education … Continue reading »

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