Worthington to Challenge Incumbent in Mayoral Race





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Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington ended months of speculation yesterday, confirming he will run for mayor.

Worthington said he will declare his candidacy at this weekend's progressive mayoral convention, adding that he will bow out of the race only if Berkeley's former State Assemblymember Tom Bates throws his hat in the ring.

"I think I'm really the only other one who can beat (incumbent mayor Shirley Dean)," he said.

Worthington said he would prefer Bates ran rather than him, but Bates has reportedly turned down the request.

Worthington described Bates, husband of former Berkeley Mayor and soon-to-be State Assembly-member Loni Hancock, as a "peacemaker" who could work with both sides of the city's politicians. Worthington, known for his consistently progressive position, has often come to heads with moderate Dean.

"The Kriss and Shirley show is entertaining, but it's also very emotionally draining and ultimately not productive," Worthington said.

Worthington's closest ally on the council, Dona Spring, said she would also prefer Bates, calling him the "ideal" candidate. But she also confirmed that Bates had declined the progressive invitation.

Spring described Worthington as the "next strongest candidate" after Bates.

In order to run for mayor, Worthington must vacate his South Berkeley council seat. As City Council incumbents traditionally have a large advantage over their lesser-known challengers in the district races, Worthington's decision to leave his District 7 seat may jeopardize the progressives' slim five to four City Council majority.

"It would be riskier," Spring admitted.

She said UC Berkeley alumnus and Berkeley Rent Boardmember Paul Hogarth would be a good replacement for Worthington's student-dominated district.

"(Hogarth has) got what it takes to win," she said.

Hogarth, who has close political ties to Worthington, said he will "absolutely" be a candidate for District 7 and support Worthington's bid for mayor.

"(Worthington has) been a mentor to me," he said. "He's the reason I'm in Berkeley politics."

Two other progressive candidates, city activist Eliot Cohen and City Planning Commissioner Rob Wrenn, have also announced their intentions to run for the city's top seat. Both, however, have agreed to support whoever garners the most support at an upcoming convention of city progressives.

Cohen sits on the Peace and Justice Commission, which drew national attention with the measure it sent to the City Council proposing that the city divest from Israel.

Cohen abstained on the vote, saying the measure should have included a demand that the CIA close its office in Ramallah. He said he supported the resolution except for that omission.

Wrenn, another alternative progressive mayoral candidate, has also been mentioned as a candidate for Worthington's council seat if the latter wins the mayoral nomination, Spring said.

Incumbent Mayor Dean said Worthington's candidacy did not affect her.

"I don't care who I run against," she said. "The campaign is going to be the same."

Dean said her campaign staff has polled Berkeley voters, and "the numbers look good."

Dean said she will run on her accomplishments and her goals for her next term, which include solar power in the city, a Berkeley train station and a possible city-subsidized artist warehouse co-op.

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