The appearance of lawn signs, such as this one for mayoral candidate Jacqelyn McCormick on Ashby, is a sign that campaigning in Berkeley’s elections are warming up. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The appearance of lawn signs, such as this one for mayoral candidate Jacqelyn McCormick on Ashby, is a sign that campaigning in Berkeley’s elections are warming up. Photo: Tracey Taylor

With Labor Day behind us, elections are moving center stage in Berkeley as well as nationally, as candidates begin to hustle to get their names and messages in the public eye.

Lawn signs have started to sprout in front yards, endorsements and presentations are being made, campaign offices are being fitted out, and new Facebook pages are asking that you give candidates your love.

A total of 26 candidates are standing in the November’s electoral ballot — five running against incumbent Mayor Tom Bates, who has been in office for a decade, eight for Berkeley City Council seats, eight for four Rent Stabilization Board posts, and four for two Berkeley Unified School District School Board director seats. (View the full list of qualified candidates on the City of Berkeley website.)

Max Anderson, who is campaigning to keep his District 3 Council seat, organized a kick-off event held at La Peña Cultural Center on July 2 that included poetry, tears and fried chicken. On Labor Day, Anderson orchestrated what he called a “mass mobilization,” asking volunteers to leaflet his neighborhood.

Sophie Hahn speaks at her campaign kickoff event held at Café Clem on Aug. 26

Sophie Hahn, who announced in May that she was taking on Councilmember Laurie Capitelli in District 5 for the second time, kicked off her campaign at Café Clem in downtown Berkeley on August 26. Hahn spoke of her plans to improve Berkeley on many fronts with an emphasis on supporting small and local businesses downtown and on Solano Avenue. Dorothee Mitrani-Bell, the owner of Café Clem as well as La Note restaurant, shared her experiences as a longtime business owner and expressed her strong support for Hahn. Council members Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguín were also there to show their support.

Mayor Bates held his kick-off at Berkeley Mills on Wedneday, August 29. A crowd of supporters included council members Susan Wengraf, Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore. “He could be retired now,” said Wengraf. “He could be playing golf every day. But he isn’t. He’s still optimistic. He’s still determined to make Berkeley the best it can be.”

Bates said his priorities in a fourth term would be work on the 2020 Vision to reduce Berkeley’s achievement gap, and continued emphasis on what he called “the best climate action plan in North America.” Bates also listed the numerous regional commissions and boards that he sits on, helping, he said, Berkeley have a voice beyond the city’s boundaries. He said he and his staff had tried to count the funds that his work had attracted to Berkeley: “There’s $110 million we have been directly responsible for bringing to our community.”

Supporters gathered at the kickoff event for Mayor Tom Bates’ reelection campaign at Berkeley Mills. Photo: Lance Knobel
Supporters gathered at the kickoff event for Mayor Tom Bates’ reelection campaign at Berkeley Mills. Photo: Lance Knobel

Kriss Worthington kicked off his mayoral campaign at Bacheeso’s on Telegraph Avenue on Aug. 8, complete with Latin Jazz and a buffet.

Last week, the Berkeley Democratic Club held the first of two endorsement meetings. A total of 125 members turned out and voted on who they wanted to endorse for four council seats, the BUSD School Board, and board members for BART and AC Transit. The BDC endorsed Darryl Moore for District 2, Dmitri Belser for District 3, Laurie Capitelli for District 5, and Susan Wengraf (who is running unopposed) for District 6. For School Board they endorsed incumbent Beatriz Leyva-Cutler as well as Judy Appel; for BART District 7 Zakhary Mallet; for BART District 3 Rebecca Saltzman; and for AC Transit Chris Peeples. See details on Berkeley Democratic Club’s website.

Max Anderson and Dmitri Belser at the first of two Berkeley Democratic Club endorsement presentations. Photo: Tracey Taylor

On Sept. 6, they meet again to vote on endorsements for Mayor and Rent Board, and to vote on the ten measures that are going on the ballot in November.

The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club made its Berkeley endorsements in August. It is endorsing Kriss Worthington for mayor, Darryl Moore for District 2, and Judy Appel for school board. The club will consider endorsements for District 3 on Sept. 19.

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club will make its endorsements Sept. 6.

For the first time that anyone can remember, a campaign HQ will be shared by many candidates in this election, including by some who are competing against each other, after mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McCormick announced she would make office space at 1551 University Avenue available to all. Describing it as “campaign central”, McCormick hopes the public will drop in to inform themselves about issues and candidates. Debates and forums for opposing candidates may be also be held at the center in coming weeks.

The Community Campaign Center at 1551 University

So far, candidates, aside from McCormick, who have said they will be based there — contributing to rent and utilities — include Kriss Worthington, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, and Zachary Runningwolf, all of whom are running for mayor; Asa Dodsworth, Igor Tregub, Judy J. Hunt, and Alejandro Soto-Vigil, who are all standing for Rent Board commissioner posts; and Adolfo Cabral who is running against District 2 Council Member Darryl Moore. Several ballot measure campaigns will set up shop there, too, including Yes on U (“Sunshine”), Yes on V (FACTS), and No on R (Redistricting). The Yes on Pools campaign is using vacant office space in the Berkeley Plaza building on MLK Jr. Way.

Yes on Pools office on MLK Way

There will be a number of candidate forums in the coming months. The East Bay Gray Panthers will host a mayoral forum Wednesday Sept. 26 at 1:30 pm at the North Berkeley Senior Center. The Friends of Berkeley TWI will hold a forum for school board candidates on Sept. 27 from 6 to 8pm at LaConte Elementary School on Russell St. The Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association will hold a mayoral forum on Oct. 1 at St. John’s Church on College Avenue. The Thousand Oaks  Neighborhood Organization (TONA) will hold its election meeting Oct. 11 at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church October 18 at 7pm at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church auditorium on Catalina, at Colusa and has invited the two District 5 candidates to address the group.

(All candidates and campaigns are encouraged to use Berkeleyside’s free, self-serve Events Calendar to list their upcoming events.)

Berkeleyside has launched a dedicated Election 2012 section in which you can find all our coverage of the elections — including profiles of candidates, reports on campaign financing and analysis of the issues under consideration.

Progressive teacher challenges Bates for Berkeley mayor [08.27.12]
Berkeleyside’s approach to local politics [08.22.12]
Roster of 2012 Berkeley candidates firms up [08.13.12]
Capitelli, Bates, lead in campaign fundraising [08.06.12]
Beat poet joins crowded field for mayoral race [07.19.12]
Max Anderson kicks off council re-election campaign [07.02.12]
Jacquelyn McCormick vows to be a more inclusive mayor [06.18.12]
Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council [05.09.12]
Berkeley’s Mayor Tom Bates announces his re-election bid [04.26.12]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...