Incumbent Holds

District 7 City Councilmember Kriss Worthington Poised to Secure Re-Election In Spite of Recent Clashes With Colleagues

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Despite a majority of the Berkeley City Council's efforts to unseat District 7 Councilmember Kriss Worthington, support for third-time challenger George Beier might not have been enough to unseat the 14-year incumbent, who just missed the required majority of first-choice votes to win Tuesday's election.

Worthington, who was first elected to the council in 1996, fell short of securing another four years in office late Tuesday night, leading with nearly 50 percent of first-choice votes - followed by Beier with roughly 35.6 percent and Cecilia Rosales with about 14.6 percent - with all precincts reporting. Under the new ranked-choice vote system, Worthington needed 50 percent plus one vote in the first round to win the district seat. Since no winner emerged in the first round, second-choice votes cast by the 381 residents who voted for Rosales will be used to determine the winner.

"It is amazing given all the money and people trying to kick us out, the people of Berkeley are still smarter," Worthington said.

In this year's election, Worthington was endorsed by around 50 elected officials and more than 20 organizations - including Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Max Anderson. The other five council members and Mayor Tom Bates endorsed Beier, who called his endorsements "impressive," along with others by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and state Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. In the 2006 election, Beier was only supported by three council members - Laurie Capitelli, Susan Wengraf and Gordon Wozniak - and lost by a margin of about 200 votes.

"(Beier's) slim list of endorsements ... pales in comparison to mine," Worthington said. "I've worked very well with the school board. I've worked very well with the rent board ... and the City Council members vote for 98 percent of my council items."

But some say Worthington has burned some bridges in recent years, with some of his colleagues - who have supported him in previous elections - calling him difficult to work with despite his passion and hard work as a council member.

"The council wants a change ... and I was very grateful for their support," Beier said. "A lot of people on the council saw Telegraph declining and wanted to change that."

In 2002, a long history of fighting between former Mayor Shirley Dean's supporters on the council and the "progressives" - like Worthington - fueled Bates' campaign, as well as Worthington's support for him. Since then however, Bates said his relationship with Worthington has been "strained."

"(Worthington) once told me that he didn't get along with Shirley Dean ... he didn't get along with Linda Maio ... and now he hasn't gotten along with me," Bates said in an interview Sept. 27. "Why? What's going on here? Why can't you get along with anybody?"

Though Councilmember Darryl Moore endorsed Worthington in 2006 - and every other time he ran for office, including his try at the state assembly in 2008 - he endorsed both Beier and Rosales in this year's election.

"It's not personal for me," Moore said Tuesday afternoon. "I still consider Kriss to be a friend, but I would like to see someone in that office in District 7 to support some of the things that I'd like to see in District 2."

Wozniak said the majority of the council's endorsement for Beier is not a political move but instead shows that council members' personal experiences with Worthington have changed in the last four years.

He added that Worthington is difficult for other council members to work with because - unlike the rest of the council - he does not delegate.

"I can ask my staff person or I can call up their legislative aid and ask when we can meet, and you can't do that with Kriss," Wozniak said. "Something has changed in the last four years in the way the rest of the council has worked with Kriss ... that was Kriss that changed, not the council."


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

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