Best Politician

Berkeley Councilwoman Betty Olds

In a chamber of politicians that ranges from the middle left to the far left, she’s the Queen of Common Sense. At 87, Betty Olds brooks few fools. She takes her work seriously, but not herself. She is known for “Bettyisms” such as “He’s as worthless as a tit on a boar” or “There’s a jenny for every jackass” (don’t ask, but it’s no compliment). Although she’s spent most of her life in Berkeley, Olds grew up in a Republican family in Missouri. She’s a moderate-feminist-animal-rights-activist-environmentalist and she had a full life before city hall, as wife to an architect trained by Frank Lloyd Wright, mother of three and eventual grandmother, world-class birder, and master cook and baker. No dispute is too small for her, though some are too large. Olds chortles — wisely — at the notion that Washington listens to Berkeley on foreign affairs. She remains active, recently climbing an oak to protest UC’s plan to cut ’em down. And after voting to give Code Pink a special parking permit at the Marine Recruitment Center, Olds reconsidered and did something few politicians today do: She admitted that she regretted her vote.


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