Berkeley City Council Endorsements

City Council Candidate Illustrations by Jason Lee.

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When it comes to experience, incumbent Margaret Breland blows her rivals away in what remains the closest race for City Council this year. As one of the lower income districts in the city of Berkeley, District 2 needs to stick with the stable leadership already established in Breland.

In her last four years on the council, she has taken a stand for affordable housing and against city giveaways to big developers. Breland helped fund a youth center and, despite fierce opposition, is going forward with plans to build an affordable housing complex on San Pablo Avenue. Breland has not only demonstrated a personal investment in her community, but she also continues to display a real feel and personal stake in addressing the health disparities in her district and within the senior citizen community. She has championed projects that have directly helped the quality of life in her district, from a youth center to a better pedestrian access for bicyclists and the disabled.

Betty Hicks, a former postmaster, is the biggest competition facing Breland in this race. Hicks, who is backed by big business and trumpets a plan promising the revitalization of Berkeley's commercial district and leadership that returns phone calls, but leaves much to be desired by way of experience. Now is not the time for District 2 to subscribe to Hick's "moderate" approach to city government.

Although Carol Hughes-Willoughby has an inspiring personal history, the fact that she has not attended many election forums leaves us wondering whether she is taking her bid for City Council seriously.

Jon Crowder has neither been visible nor serious about his campaign. Gina Sasso has placed herself in the spotlight on numerous occasions but remains on the fringe of Berkeley politics.

For continued progress in Distrcit 2, reelect Margaret Breland.


Maudelle Shirek is more than just a politician - she's an institution. For District 3, there is no clearer choice than reelecting the seasoned and sagely incumbent.

Sassy as ever at the age of 89, there's no stopping Shirek and her 16 years of experience on the council. Her record speaks volumes of her dedication to Berkeley and to the entire world.

A true activist in every sense of the word, Shirek has seen some of Berkeley's greatest and darkest hours, as well as seen through projects that have immensely benefitted the citizens of her district and of the larger community. She has worked tirelessly on local and national boards and commissions, sometimes creating her own. But it's the little things that make Shirek a winner. She cooks meals for the elderly, cleans homes of strangers she meets on the street (this is verified) and fearlessly attends rallies and protests - gladly risking arrest. When Shirek speaks, her booming voice can stop any listener in midstep. If that's not a good quality to have for a councilmember then we don't know what is.

Shirek's strongest opponent, James Peterson (ironically, a Shirek appointee), is a less than stellar candidate in this race. Running a generously funded campaign and endorsed by scary developers, Peterson's reputation is slightly marred by a sketchy campaign contribution scandal earlier this year.

Marcella Crump-Williams, the third candidate, presented herself to us as an individual with great promise. But despite practical ideas for improving the quality of life in her district, Crump-Williams lacks solid experience in city government to effectively hold a council seat. Should she lose, we strongly recommend Crump-Williams take time after this election to direcly contribute to some form of local government before running for office again.

Concerns of her age aside, Shirek remains far and away the best choice for continued and immediate results in District 3.


Benjamin Rodefer's basic ideas and fresh thinking are just what District 5 and the City Council desperately need.

Rodefer's core values and proposals to refine fiscal responsibility and city development are all the more promising because he is not entrenched in the Berkeley political establishment. His respect for Berkeley culture coupled with his pragmatic understanding of the urban concerns facing the city show promise for developing coherent land-use planning.

While we have serious misgivings about Rodefer's negative stance on Measure Y, which strives to protect tenants from unfair evictions, we are still confident that Rodefer will best represent his district.

Although candidate Carrie Olsen displays an impressive track record, her experience and focus are too narrow to encompass the breadth of views in District 5. Despite Olsen's good intentions and ideas, it would be difficult to imagine her spearheading and following through on the dramatic change she proposes.

Candidate Miriam Hawley, donning gleaming buttons and glib smiles, is all facade and fluff when it comes to the issues troubling Berkeley. Hawley's vague plans and self-agrandizing for working on the AC Transit board leaves much to be desired by way of substance. In fact, it appears that many political organizations endorsed her without knowing what she stood for - perhaps due the striking similarities she bears to Mayor Shirley Dean. Hawley may share the same ideology as Dean, but she does not have the bite.

Tom Kelly is too focused on the Green Party platform to fathom the urban problems plaguing a very urban Berkeley.

Mark Fowler displayed indifference to student concerns by not attending our forum.


For the Berkeley Hills, electing a City Council member this year is a task for the pragmatist instead of the diehard politico. Plainly speaking, the candidates for the District 6 seat are just not exciting.

But one candidate, Norine Smith, stands out above the fray in the evenly qualified and lesser-evil sort of way. With a quirky sense of humor and a habit of speaking out of turn, Smith is a sunny and reasonable Berkeley citizen who will serve her district well on the council.

Not gung-ho but sensible, Smith has a keen understanding of issues facing the entire city as well as the bureaucratic inroads to bring about results. She has made strides to step out of her traditionally insular district to advocate for more student housing and end partisan council politics.

Her opponents, however, represent themes of ineffectiveness and opportunism. Incumbent Betty Olds, despite having served eight years on the council, has yet to follow through on the one thing her district sorely needs - a new fire house. Olds's now-old rhetoric of what District 6 and the city need is inconsistent and vague, which is not surprising given her confidence that she she will be re-elected without a fight.

Eleanor Pepples was the slickest candidate to meet us -- we were not impressed. Having lived in her district for less than two years, Pepples can best be described as an untrustworthy carpetbagger looking to bolster her resume with a stint on the City Council. Evidence: in three minutes of adressing us, she namedropped her Ivy League alma mater with more confidence than she used to discuss her agenda.

When all is said and done, Norine Smith will bring progress and a positive attitude to the City Council.


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