Political Club Stirs Council

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Praising "common sense" government, the Berkeley Democratic Club endorsed three new Berkeley City Council candidates and one incumbent Monday.

But the endorsements by the "moderate" political organization did not come without criticism for the group's main opponent, the "progressive" Berkeley Citizens Action Club.

Betty Hicks, a candidate for District 2, James Peterson, a candidate for District 3, Miriam Hawley for District 5, and Betty Olds, the incumbent for District 6, received a unanimous endorsement from the crowd of over 25 democratic club members.

The influential club endorses only Democrats, a point of distinction from the Berkeley Citizens Action Club, which is more oriented toward the Green Party.

According to Mayor Shirley Dean, the club's endorsements are meant to further democratic ideals, such as inclusiveness, community involvement, abortion rights and fair wages.

"We endorse good, liberal democrats," Dean said after a speech in which she criticized council members who support the citizens action club.

"The BCA is against independent businesses," Dean said. "They also refused a $30,000 offer from UC Berkeley to study parking in the downtown area."

Kriss Worthington, the only council member present who supports the citizens action club, said Dean only tells half the story.

"We opposed Canters, a furniture store that had moved into another neighborhood, because it wasn't zoned for that neighborhood," Worthington said.

He added that the council members approved a different parking study to look at alternative transportation such as public transit and biking, as well as parking.

Carrie Olson, a candidate for District 5, said she is disappointed with what she sees as "silly" fighting between the two political groups.

"I'm appalled that there's any friction at all," she said. "We should all be about Berkeley values. We sound as silly as the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. There's no respect here."

She added that she is cynical of the endorsement process.

"I intentionally did not go for the BCA endorsement because I didn't want to play the games," Olson said. "I think their minds are already made up."

But Olds said her win Monday is the result of diligence, not partisanship.

"I think it's eight years of hard work," she said. "I worked hard to handle all the sewer problems, since you know we have major drainage problems in the hills."

Hawley, the District 5 candidate, said she does not feel a pull from either group despite her endorsements from both the democratic club and the citizens action club.

"There won't be a tension," Hawley said. "I will vote my convictions. People are very eager for the council to be less acrimonious. I can work for a more congenial atmosphere."

Hicks said she received the democratic club's endorsement even though she does not know much about the group.

"I'm very pleased with it, but I am just learning about it," Hicks said. "I will be watching and I am going to get involved in it."


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