If you’re a Berkeley voter, you’ve probably already heard or seen some pretty confusing political messages this fall, but we believe that once you cut through the noise, you’ll find that the choices for the city’s future are clear. Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmen Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore share a vision for Berkeley that we think not only offers the most realistic way to help solve the city’s economic issues, but also would help Berkeley do its part in the fight against climate change.
Bates, Capitelli, and Moore want to spur growth in Berkeley by bringing thousands of new residents to downtown, to the city’s transit corridors, and to West Berkeley. An influx of new residents not only would provide more customers for Berkeley’s restaurants, bars, shops, and small businesses, but also would provide much-needed new tax revenues for the city. In addition, their smart-growth plan to build more housing in the city would result in fewer incentives for people to move to the suburbs and then commute in their cars to work.
We also think the economic plan offered by Bates, Capitelli, and Moore is pragmatic. There are basically three ways to balance government budgets these days: raise taxes, cut spending, or spur growth. Berkeley residents and small businesses are already over-taxed and the city council has already slashed a considerable amount of spending on local services. That leaves growth, and for Berkeley, there is no other realistic solution for ensuring the city’s economic vitality.
That’s also why we’re strongly endorsing Measure T, which would add new residents to West Berkeley by allowing more flexibility for housing on six large, underused sites. We also wholeheartedly endorse Measure R, which would let the council ignore gerrymandered council districts created more than 25 years ago and draw new boundary lines that more accurately reflect the city’s neighborhoods and demographics. Measure R also offers the best hope of finally creating a UC Berkeley-student-oriented district in the city.
By contrast, Bates’ two main competitors, challenger Jacquelyn McCormick and Councilman Kriss Worthington, offer no viable solutions for dealing with the city’s most pressing issues. Although we often agree with Worthington’s progressive ideals, he too often makes the perfect the enemy of the good by refusing to compromise unless he gets exactly what he wants. That’s not an effective way to govern. And it results in him voting with Berkeley’s anti-growth contingent, which opposes nearly every urban growth proposal, no matter how environmentally friendly it is.
We’re also troubled by McCormick’s opposition to measures R and T, and her ardent support for measures U and V — two dangerous initiatives that we think are not only designed to block the council majority from achieving its goals, but also would tie government in knots and cost taxpayers too much money. In a nonpartisan analysis, City Attorney Zach Cowan concluded that both measures are probably illegal and that Measure U could cost the city up to $2 million a year.
We strongly oppose measures U and V, and we’re urging voters not to cast ballots for Sophie Hahn, Capitelli’s challenger in the District 5 race for North Berkeley. Hahn is backed by anti-growth activists, opposes measures R and T, and supports Measure V, while offering no realistic plan for growing Berkeley’s economy. Likewise, we urge voters not to cast ballots for Moore’s challengers, Denisha DeLane and Adolfo Cabral, for District 2, West Berkeley and South Berkeley. Both are backed by the anti-growth crowd and oppose Measure T.
In Oakland’s District 1 council race, representing Rockridge, Temescal, and other North Oakland neighborhoods, we’re doing a ranked-choice endorsement of three progressive candidates. This race features several good candidates, and our first choice is Richard Raya, who has the financial smarts that we think are needed to help solve Oakland’s economic problems — having been the budget director of the Alameda County Public Health Department. Our second choice is Amy Lemley, who wants to attract more businesses to Oakland and increase the city’s focus on youth. And our third choice is Dan Kalb, who wants to entice more green-tech companies to the city.
In Alameda, we endorse council candidates Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Stewart Chen, and Tony Daysog. Technically, there are only two council seats up for grabs, but the third-place finisher could also join the council if Vice Mayor Rob Bonta wins the 18th Assembly District race. This council contest also has several strong candidates, but we think Ezzy Ashcraft, Chen, and Daysog (a former councilmember) have the best proposals for the island.
For AC Transit, we endorse progressive candidate Yelda Bartlett for Ward 1, which stretches from Berkeley to North Richmond. A Berkeley attorney, Bartlett is smart, and already displays a strong knowledge of AC Transit’s needs and budget issues. By contrast, incumbent Joe Wallace is the least-informed member of the AC Transit board. For the AC Transit At-Large seat, we’re endorsing incumbent H.E. Christian “Chris” Peeples. Although we’ve disagreed strongly with Peeples in the past on certain issues, we’re troubled that his challenger, Dollene Jones, has not taken the time to thoroughly study AC Transit’s finances.
On the statewide ballot, we endorse Proposition 30, but oppose Proposition 38. Although both measures are progressive because they would raise taxes on the rich more than they would on middle- and low-income residents, we oppose Prop 38 because it’s another example of “ballot-box budgeting”; it would only allow revenues to go to education.
Finally, we strongly endorse Proposition 36 because it would reform California’s deeply flawed Three Strikes law so that felons could not be sentenced to life in prison unless their third conviction was violent or serious.
See our first round of endorsements here.