City Council Dynamics May Shift After Loss Of Member

As Berkeley Mourns the Death of Dona Spring, Progressives Hope to Continue Her Message

Related Articles »

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

When longtime Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring passed away in July, the council lost what many community members call one of its most progressive and passionate members, something that could affect the coming council election.

Spring, who began representing District 4 in 1992, died on July 13 of complications resulting from pneumonia. Since she was 19, she had battled rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.

Spring was a rare example of a politician who did not let her disability hold her back. She advocated a diversity of issues.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said Spring was often the first to bring up a controversial or overlooked issue.

"She was a visionary spirit and she initiated more ideas of policy than any other councilmember," he said. "She was frequently the first person to bring up the subject."

Although many community members want Spring's now vacant seat to be filled by a like-minded representative, some are undecided on which of the five candidates would be the best for the job.

Worthington said Spring's family is supporting candidate Jesse Arreguin, the chair of the city's housing advisory commission.

However, some activists such as Mark McDonald, who worked with Spring, are supporting candidate L A Wood, who ran against Spring in 2002.

Arreguin said that, if elected, he hopes to ensure Spring's progressive voice is still heard.

"I see this as not really my two years on the council, but continuing her legacy on the council and making sure that the issues she thought were important are considered by the council," he said.

Wood said Spring was irreplaceable because of her ability to listen, a quality he will strive to emulate if elected.

"That was Dona's strength-listening to everyone," he said. "The council is not the same without her."

Some community members said that, as meetings begin next Tuesday after a summer-long recess, the council's dynamics may change without Spring.

Shirley Dean, a current Berkeley mayoral candidate and mayor from 1994 to 2002, said Spring often worked with Worthington to provide the "second" needed by council rules to discuss an issue.

Dean said the council may not be able to hear some motions this fall

because of Spring's absence.

"(Spring) would raise different issues and second motions that some people on the council probably didn't want to talk about," Dean said. "Sometimes she would support them and sometimes she wouldn't, but she wanted the discussion to occur anyway."

McDonald said Spring's death compounded a difficult situation for progressives in city government.

"We already are a suffering progressive minority on the council," he said. "There are people up there who think they are progressive, but they're not. If her seat is replaced by another pro-development Democrat, it will be certainly a sad thing for her legacy."

Worthington said it may be difficult to pass certain progressive issues at council meetings this fall without Spring's vote.

"We have one less progressive vote," he said. "If you lost one of your strongest votes, it's hard to get to five, so things we would have won 5-4, we will now lose," he said.

But Councilmember Darryl Moore said issues about which Spring was passionate will still be considered.

"Her issues will continue because they're core issues for the progressives on the council," he said. "We just don't have her strong and clear voice championing those issues."

Besides her voting record on the council, Worthington said Spring's death was a loss to progressive politics in the city.

"I think losing her was a giant blow to the progressive movement in general," he said. "It's getting harder to get progressive things accomplished."


Amy Brooks covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
City Council
Image Local Legend a Lifelong Social Advocate
Bundled up in a fleece snowman blanket with "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on the...Read More»
City Council
Image People's Park, Telegraph Avenue Key Issues in Dist...
With less than a week until this year's Berkeley Ci...Read More»
City Council
Image District 7 Candidates Talk Campaign Funding
As the three-way race for the Berkeley City Council District 7 seat spee...Read More»
City Council
Image Candidates Vie for City Council Seats
With two weeks left in the nomination period for the Berkeley City Council ...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space