Tag Archives: Laurie Capitelli

Laurie Capitelli steps down after 12 years on City Council

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley  Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati
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City Councilman Laurie Capitelli was born in Berkeley but moved away at a young age, only to return to attend UC Berkeley. He never left, raising his children here. He worked as a real-estate agent for Red Oak Realty for decades and got involved in the public sphere in 1996.

After running for mayor and filling out dozens of questionnaires, Capitelli declined Berkeleyside’s request to answer some written questions because he said he had ‘questionnaire fatigue.’ So Berkeleyside sat down with Capitelli on Monday to ask him for his parting thoughts as he leaves the City Council after serving 12 years. His Council seat representing District 5 was won by Sophie Hahn.

Capitelli seemed relaxed and at ease over coffee at Philz Coffee on Shattuck Avenue. Even though he had lost the mayor’s race (City Councilman Jesse Arreguín defeated him by a 47.4% to 33.6% vote), Capitelli said he was proud of his campaign and thankful for the endorsements he had received. “I don’t dwell on things,” he said. “I am a big believer in having no regrets.”

Capitelli said his loss was the result of “a perfect storm.” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Arreguín mattered more than Capitelli initially realized, he said, as it gave those disappointed at not being able to vote for Sanders for President a “proxy.” He also thought there was some fatigue among residents about the rate of development in Berkeley, but pointed out that Berkeley has not built much housing in the last 35 years and “we were just catching up.”

As for Arreguín’s win, “the general mood in the country was voting for change,” said Capitelli. “I think they are going to get it.” [Both in the U.S. and Berkeley.] He also said that Arreguín is a professional politician who has never held any other job and spent four years gearing up for the mayor’s race. “Jesse is a politician. I don’t mean that in a negative way. He worked the last four years on the coalition that elected him. That was not something I had a desire to do.”

Tonight will be Capitelli’s last City Council meeting and he doubts he will hold public office again. He started his political career as a member of the Planning Commission in 1996. He then went to the Zoning Adjustments Board in 2000 and was elected to City Council in 2004.

The following answers are curated from some notes Capitelli made and the Berkeleyside interview. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s own political earthquake: Arreguín becomes mayor, progressives seize council majority

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Arreguin
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Jesse Arreguín, 32, decisively won the mayorship in yesterday’s election, becoming the first Latino Berkeley mayor.

To close observers of Berkeley’s local politics, the chattering started over the last several weeks of the election. First, Jesse Arreguín won the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as the Sierra Club and the Alameda County Democratic Party. Then there was word of thousands of new voter registrations on the UC Berkeley campus.

Missed the election night action? Read our live blog.

After 14 years of Mayor Tom Bates and his secure City Council majority, could Councilman Arreguín best Bates’ hand-picked successor, Councilman Laurie Capitelli?

It didn’t take long for the results on Tuesday night to answer that question. When the Alameda County Registrar of Voters produced the first data shortly after 8 p.m., Arreguín already led Capitelli. As long-shot mayoral candidate Ben Gould explained to Berkeleyside, those results, largely from early, mail-in ballots, usually reflect more of the “hill” vote, which Capitelli supporters had hoped to win decisively.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Real progressives vote for housing

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Berkeley has a Downtown Plan. The path has not been smooth or simple, but thousands of hours, plus voter buy-in has solidly approved it.

It was a compromise – the outgrowth of hundreds of hours of public meetings that took place from 2005 to 2009 by a special Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission. This original plan, approved by City Council, was later overturned.

The 2010 ballot’s Measure R could only be advisory, but it gave Berkeley voters the opportunity … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A solution to Berkeley’s political price tag problem

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Since 2008, I’ve had the privilege and responsibility of looking out for every Berkeley tenant and landlord while serving on the Berkeley Rent Board. Doing so has provided me a unique look at the skyrocketing cost of housing, the lack of affordable rental units, and the many other difficulties of Berkeley’s challenging housing market.

I’ve been elected three out of the four times I’ve run for office, and, while doing so, I’ve raised thousands and thousands of dollars. Even when … Continue reading »

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Who are Berkeley’s two leading mayoral candidates?

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
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It’s been a long time since Berkeley had a competitive mayoral election. There’s no polling conducted in Berkeley, but with incumbent Tom Bates stepping down, there’s considerable uncertainty about the result of the 2016 race.

Unquestionably, the two most visible candidates – most active in campaigning, raising the most money, and spending the most on the race – are council members Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín. Berkeleyside has been covering the different approaches the two take to many of the issues that dominate debate in Berkeley, from housing to homelessness to downtown. But what do we know about Arreguín’s and Capitelli’s development as local political figures?

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel has been attending mayoral forums, interviewing the candidates, and tracking them down during public events like the recent Sunday Streets. The result is two portraits of very different figures, vying for the symbolic leadership of Berkeley.

See more mayoral race coverage on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Laurie Capitelli wants to bring compromise, consensus to mayor’s office

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Laurie Capitelli didn’t want to see that happen. His wife, Marilyn, owned Avenue Books down the street and the couple grew increasingly worried that the loss of the movie theater would tear a hole in the fabric of the small shopping district.

So Capitelli, a public high school teacher turned real estate agent, got together with some local merchants and other engaged citizens to form the Elmwood Theater Foundation. In just a few Saturdays of fundraising, the nonprofit group raised $400,000 – enough to purchase the building and start repairs. In 1992, five years after the fire, the Elmwood reopened with a larger lobby, more screens, and new seating. Twenty-four years later, the theater is still going strong.

Capitelli, who was elected to represent District 5 on the Berkeley City Council in 2004, said that kind of consensus building – bringing disparate groups together to solve a community problem – is the way he likes to operate. And Capitelli believes that he can bring that approach to the office of mayor and Berkeley will be better for it.

See the profile on challenger Jesse Arreguín on Berkeleyside.

“That’s emblematic of the kinds of things I like to do,” Capitelli told a group that had gathered to meet him at a house party in the Elmwood in July. “I like to get in, do my research, and make things happen.” … Continue reading »

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If elected, Jesse Arreguín would be Berkeley’s first Latino mayor, just one of many firsts

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Arreguin
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On a recent rainy day, City Councilman Jesse Arreguín took time from his campaign for mayor to visit a homeless encampment in South Berkeley. As water poured down on the tents and lean-tos set up in the Adeline Street median, Arreguín spoke to those camping out about their needs and wants.

The fact that Arreguín, 32, took the time to visit the encampment, which was later moved by city workers, is no surprise to his supporters. Arreguín has long been a voice for the poor and the marginalized, a reflection, he said, of his upbringing.

Arreguín is the son and grandson of farm workers. His grandfather came from Mexico in the 1940s and spent most of his life toiling in the fields of the Central Valley, Arreguín’s father, after picking crops as a child, enlisted in the Army at 18 and went on to drive a truck and work in a warehouse before starting a long career as an electrician at San Francisco State University.

The family’s poverty and struggles and tales of friends who had to live in cars made a deep impression on Arreguín, who grew up in San Francisco. From a young age he had a preternaturally strong instinct to fight against forces of prejudice, he said.

See the profile on challenger Laurie Capitelli on Berkeleyside.

“I would get so upset about injustice, whether it happened 200 years ago or now,” Arreguín said in a recent interview. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley values: Divisiveness isn’t one of them

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During the course of a campaign it is completely fair to compare one’s record against that of one’s opponent.  I take no issue with that.  I am proud of my work for education, children’s health, affordable housing, fiscal prudence, public safety and housing linked to transit.

But last week my opponent emailed his supporters to alert them that the campaign would be getting “nasty.” He did not disappoint. His emails, Facebook advertising, Instagram, Twitter and even snail mail have revealed his … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: The race for mayor — a disconnect on development

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I’ve had many a conversation lately with white liberals in Berkeley who lament the rise of Donald Trump. They always seem to be bewildered about how this could be happening in our country, how someone like that could be so close to grabbing power. When our conversations turn to local politics, however, there seems to be a disconnect about how the dehumanizing policies that Trump is proposing for the country have much in common with ones that are in play … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Laurie Capitelli is the social equity candidate for Berkeley

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One of the biggest, if not the biggest issue facing our country today is social equity, and disparities in income, education achievement, and health. Thought leaders are recognizing that social equity is fundamental to building a sustainable economy and resilient communities.

Berkeley is not isolated from this national phenomenon. With inflated real estate prices and the higher cost-of-living in the Bay Area, it is even more imperative that local leadership leverage all available tools to create opportunity for all, but … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why Laurie Capitelli shouldn’t be mayor, why Jessie Arreguín should: Equity & jobs

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West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC) urges you not to support Laurie Capitelli for mayor because of his central role in a destructive, multi-year, anti-equity effort to force out West Berkeley companies and their thousands of productive middle-wage jobs. Vote for Jesse Arreguín, who has been a consistently strong supporter of West Berkeley’s sustainable industrial maker and arts ecosystem and the thousands of good, family-wage jobs it provides.

The effort to displace West Berkeley’s thousands of good jobs for … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley mayoral race, Arreguín accelerates fundraising, Capitelli maintains monetary lead

Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín are the two top contenders to replace Mayor Tom Bates. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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See update below.

Berkeley mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguín raised almost three times as much money in the last month as his fiercest rival, Laurie Capitelli.

Arreguín raised $33,434 from Sept. 25 to Oct. 22. In that same period, Capitelli raised $11,550.

That is a reverse of the previous campaign finance reporting cycle that stretched from July 1 to Sept. 24. In that period Capitelli raised $31,288 to Arreguín’s $19,461.

The surge in donations to Arreguín’s campaign brings his total close to that of Capitelli’s, who has more $250 donors, the maximum allowed in Berkeley. Supporters have contributed $102,434 to Arreguín since 2015 and $115,555 to Capitelli in that same period.

Visit Berkeleyside’s 2016 Election Hub for complete election coverage.

However, the PAC for the National Association of Realtors is backing Capitelli, and its independent expenditure committee spent $60,382 on his behalf. That spending was not coordinated with Capitelli’s campaign. The Berkeley Police Department PAC also spent $17,707 on a mailer for Capitelli.

The PAC for SEIU Local 1021 has spent $8,112 on Arreguín’s behalf.  Again, those expenditures were not coordinated with the candidate.

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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