Mayor Tom Bates Announces Plans to Run for Re-Election

Former Mayor Shirley Dean to Compete With Bates Once Again in the Upcoming November Election

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates's official announcement of his intention to run for re-election means the city will be in for another round of Shirley Dean versus Bates this November.

Dean, who was mayor from 1994 until Bates unseated her in the 2002 election, declared her intention to run last week.

Since Bates assumed his post six years ago, during which time the national economy has fallen into a recession and the U.S. has entered into a war in Iraq that is passionately decried by the majority of Berkeley residents, many of the issues central to local politics remain the same.

The debate over land use in the city is still prominent-in part because of how it encompasses a variety of other important and sometimes contentious issues-including capital and economic development, the quality of life in Berkeley and the relationship between the city and UC Berkeley.

What has changed since the 2002 election are the two candidates' stances on those issues with respect to one another.

Six years ago, many developers backed Dean, who was widely viewed as a more moderate candidate than Bates. Panoramic Interests owner Patrick Kennedy said at the time he planned to vote for Dean because he feared Bates would appoint commissioners who would obstruct growth.

But since then, the two candidates' relative positions have shifted.

During his time as mayor, Bates moved more toward the political center of the City Council, and was a proponent of many development projects.

Dean is strongly opposed to the construction of highrise buildings, which she said negate the atmosphere of the community.

"Berkeley is right at the brink of becoming a highrise community," she said. "I don't think we need the type of tall buildings that are being proposed right now."

Changes in how community factions perceive the candidates' stances on land use means community groups will likely ally themselves differently this election.

The relationship between the city and the campus continues to be of major concern to politicians and residents alike, especially because it is often connected to matters of development, such as the current legal gridlock between the city and the campus over development at Memorial Stadium.

In 2002, both Bates and Dean strived to portray themselves as the candidate who would stand up to the campus while simultaneously improving their relationship with it. Debate during this election will likely turn toward the matter again.

And though the candidates differ on some policy issues, they are still in agreement about other issues, including the importance of addressing the achievement gap in schools, making Berkeley a leader on environmental issues and combatting crime.

Because of this, many residents may fall back on their perceptions of the candidates' personalities and leadership styles when they go to vote.

"I think they are more different in style than in policy," said Roland Peterson, recent chairman of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.

Tags: ELECTIONS 2008, SHIRLEY DEAN, LOCAL ELECTIONS 2008, CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2008, MAYOR TOM BATES


Jacqueline Johnston is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]



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