Berkeley Democratic Club Makes Endorsements for City Council

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Some Berkeley City Council endorsements by the Berkeley Democratic Club were unsurprising this year as the club endorsed its president and another member, following the club's trend in endorsing more moderate candidates.

In addition to endorsing George Beier - co-president of the club - for District 7 and Councilmember Gordon Wozniak - a club member whose wife, Evie Wozniak, is a board member - for District 8, the club also announced Thursday its endorsement of Councilmember Linda Maio for District 1 and Jim Novosel for District 4.

Due to his candidacy, Beier did not participate in the club's endorsement process this year and is "on leave" until the election is over, according to Shireen Burns, co-president of the club.

While the club has historically endorsed moderate candidates, Burns said it endorses the "most well-qualified" and capable candidates.

"We try to endorse a group of people in the district who will get along with each other on City Council ... so our city can go forward," she said.

In the club's endorsement process, candidates are offered the opportunity to meet with the club's board, which makes recommendations to club members.

While some candidates declined to be interviewed by the board ahead of time, most spoke at the club's meeting Thursday, except for Councilmember Jesse Arreguin of District 4 and Anthony Di Donato, who is running for the District 1 council seat.

Arreguin, who declined an interview with the board in 2008, said he did not participate in the club's endorsement process at all because it does not represent his political beliefs and values, adding that the club has historically been against rent control and affordable housing.

"Historically, the Democratic Club has had a conservative agenda," Arreguin said. "They do not support progressive politics ... I don't believe I agree with their positions, and I just did not want to participate."

Di Donato was not contacted by the club because his contact information was not available on the city's website, according to Burns.

Di Donato, who is running in his first political campaign, said he did not release his contact information online because he did not want to be "inundated with phone calls." He added that the club made "an ignorant and biased decision" by not contacting him.

"At this point I'm just really kind of discouraged about the whole process," he said. "It seems kind of rigged."

According to Deputy City Clerk Mark Numainville, the club could have obtained Di Donato's telephone number by calling the clerk's office. Numainville said several political clubs and community organizations have requested candidates' contact information in this year's elections.

At the meeting Thursday, Councilmember Kriss Worthington told club members he did not expect to receive their endorsement, saying "if George Beier doesn't get this endorsement, I'll be the first one in line demanding a recount."

In previous elections, Worthington has not shown up for scheduled interviews with the board, but this year he declined the interview, Burns said, adding that Worthington is "trying to hurt George in the polls."

"Kriss is trying to get the last word in there ... he's trying to hurt the endorsement of the club," Burns said. "Kriss Worthington causes a lot of problems."


Stephanie Baer is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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