Beier Claims Most Recent Council Bid Was His Last

Photo: George Beier watches the election returns on Nov. 2 in his bid for a city council seat against incumbent Kriss Worthington, who won the race with 50.07 percent of the vote.
David Herschorn/File
George Beier watches the election returns on Nov. 2 in his bid for a city council seat against incumbent Kriss Worthington, who won the race with 50.07 percent of the vote.

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George Beier Interview

Stephanie Baer speaks with George Beier about his plans for the future.

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After losing the Berkeley City Council District 7 election to incumbent Kriss Worthington for the third time, George Beier said he is done running for City Council as his vision for tangible change in the district failed to break down Worthington's 14-year record.

Though Beier's support seemed to be stronger in this election - with endorsements from Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmembers Linda Maio, Darryl Moore, Laurie Capitelli, Susan Wengraf and Gordon Wozniak - Worthington narrowly beat challengers Beier and Cecilia Rosales in the second round of ranked-choice voting.

The distribution of second choice votes by those who voted for write-in candidates increased Worthington's percentage from 49.68 percent to 50.07 percent - meeting the needed 50 percent plus one vote to win the election - according to accumulated results by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters as of Saturday.

"You can only do so much," Beier said. "I did it three times ... somebody else has to pick up the ball."

Beier said his message for a revitalized Telegraph Avenue and People's Park was not enough to secure him a spot on the council, reflecting widespread difficulty in challenging incumbents. In this year's other three council races, each incumbent secured another four-year term in the first round - a unsurprising result, Beier said, adding it would have been "earth shattering" had he won.

Former Mayor Shirley Dean, who endorsed Beier in this year's election, said the incumbency factor prevents new leadership from moving the city forward and added that "fresh energy" could lead to better solutions.

"What we need is some real leadership out there, and we're not getting it, and it's more and more and more apparent," Dean said. "It is time that we make some changes, and we get some new energy because the city is just drifting."

In the 2006 elections, Beier lost by a margin of about 200 votes, but this year he was behind Worthington by about 600 votes at the end of the first round, according to the registrar results.

Beier said he could have met more residents during the campaign and added that in the end, negative literature distributed throughout the district - such as one flier that alleged he closed Willard pool - hurt his chances of winning.

At a Cal Berkeley Democrats endorsement meeting in September, Beier revealed that two unnamed council members called him after a council meeting this summer and said they voted against Worthington's proposal to redirect money for the pool - which closed July 1 - because they did not want Worthington to enter the election with a victory in regards to the pool issue.

Since the meeting, several community members have asked Beier to release the names of the two council members, but Beier has consistently declined to do so.

"That was kind of rough," Beier said. "It's harder to do what I was trying to do, which was put out a vision and get people to invest in it ... it's very easy to sort of chip away at that."

Though Beier, who has served on several city commissions and is currently president of the Willard Neighborhood Association, said he does not yet know what he will do for the city - if anything at all - he said he would like to help students form a political party, an idea he introduced during his campaign to encourage students to have a consistent voice in city politics.

"I would like to see a student win in either District 8 or District 7," he said. "If you had a strong student party ... (students) would actually change the areas where they live."

But until new leadership from community members or students can move new ideas forward on the council, the city, which "prides itself on being progressive," may continue to see little progress, Beier said.

"The irony of Berkeley is we call ourselves a progressive city, but really, very little changes," he said. "If you squint and close your eye, it could be 1982."


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

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