District 8 Candidates Discuss Campaigns

Editor's Note This is the first installment in a four-part series on City Council member elections.

Anna Vignet/Staff

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While Berkeley City Council District 8 challengers Stewart Jones and Jacquelyn McCormick criticize incumbent Gordon Wozniak for his fiscal management and inadequate work to bridge the "town-gown" divide, Wozniak - who is supported by various UC Berkeley student leaders and council members - stands by his eight-year record on the council.

Wozniak said he was proud of the council's ability to "engage (the university) in a productive partnership" with the city. But Jones and McCormick have focused their campaigns on the need for neighborhood representation, student involvement in city government and transparency in District 8, which includes the campus dormitories, fraternities and sororities east of College Avenue.

McCormick, a former corporate executive at the Bank of America turned design studio owner, said her experience with negotiating corporate and retail interests would prove valuable to the council in balancing differing neighborhood interests, which she said have not been addressed by the incumbent. She cited the district's traffic congestion as an example.

"Their needs were ignored - dismissed," she said, adding that the council views neighborhood associations as anti-government. "Well, they're not. They're watchdogs. It's really quite appalling."

McCormick and Jones said student representation in city government is also lacking. Currently, a third of Wozniak's appointed commissioners are students.

"Students aren't really involved in the process," McCormick said. "They're not engaged in city government. Perhaps that's a choice, perhaps they've never been approached."

Jones, who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2006, said in an e-mail that, if elected, he will appoint more students to commissions and "provide students and homeowners more than token access to their elected official." Jones has been endorsed by ASUC Senator Elliot Goldstein and Giancarlo Leonio, UC Berkeley student and waterfront commissioner, while no student leaders have endorsed McCormick, according to their respective campaign websites.

Wozniak, who said he has "an extensive record" working with the student community, has been endorsed by several student leaders and groups, including the Cal Berkeley Democrats, ASUC President Noah Stern, Berkeley Student Cooperative President Daniel Kronovet, Panhellenic Council President Katrina Ziegenhirt and Interfraternity Council President Jeremiah Douglas.

As part of his involvement with the student community, Wozniak established recycling programs in the fraternities and sororities - one contribution to his larger goal of a "Zero Waste Berkeley." He said waste diversion - especially meeting the city's goal of 75 percent diversion of waste from landfills - would be a priority in his third term.

In addition to the incumbent's disregard for constituents' concerns, Jones and McCormick both said the City Council's fiscal management and "back-room deals" have not served students or community members.

"There have been some personal agendas to unseat current council members that are shocking," McCormick said. "That detrimentally impacts people who pay their taxes, and it certainly isn't benefiting the students."

She declined to clarify to which "personal agendas" she was referring.

Both McCormick and Jones said a line-item budget would allow council members to rein in spending efficiently. McCormick added that there are several other minor tweaks that would make a big difference.

"There's not a day ... that I don't learn something else about city hall that needs to be reformed and dealt with," she said. "It's really quite frustrating and disappointing."


Gianna Albaum covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

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