Bates Announces Mayoral Candidacy, Prompting Worthington to Step Aside

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On the heels of his wife's successful bid for his old Assembly seat, Tom Bates announced Saturday he will challenge incumbent Mayor Shirley Dean for the city's top post in November.

The husband of Loni Hancock, a former Berkeley mayor and the Democratic nominee for the state Assembly, made his decision after receiving overwhelming support from Berkeley progressives. Bates won 87 percent of the 176 ballots cast at the progressives' mayoral convention Saturday.

Described by City Councilmem-ber Dona Spring as the "ideal" candidate, Bates said he made the final decision to run only in the last few days.

"It's time to move beyond the ideological struggle of the 1970s and get beyond the battles of the past," Bates said during his acceptance speech Saturday.

Council members Linda Maio and Kriss Worthington were also nominated at the convention, but both declined to run against Bates and threw their support behind him.

"We need a mayor who will replace viciousness and vindictiveness with vigorousness and vitality," Worthington said.

Bates, who arrived late to the convention, was greeted by more than 200 people who packed the North Berkeley Senior Center to hear him speak. Their enthusiasm grew to a feverish pitch as he concluded his remarks and the progressives cheered their candidate.

Bates, who was forced out of his District 14 Assembly seat in 1996 because of term limits after 20 years representing the district, said he can work with both sides of Berkeley's fractious City Council.

"A council that is divided is a council that is in many ways a disgrace to the community," he said, promising to put a stop to the progressive foreign policy resolutions that have held the city up to national ridicule.

He also said he would ask the council to dispatch all local business on its agenda before addressing national and international matters.

As a former UC Berkeley political science professor, Bates said he is best suited to represent the city in any future negotiations with the university.

Because of existing housing, traffic and parking problems, he said the university should halt further expansion.

"Just because (the university) is exempt from most state and local ordinances doesn't mean they can do whatever they want," he said.

Despite his background and support, many are predicting a tough race and believe that Bates will have to capture large portions of the political center to win.

"I think it will be difficult for Tom to attract moderates," Council-member Polly Armstrong said.

She said the mayor's race requires tremendous work on the part of the candidate, and she doubted if Bates could keep up with Dean.

"(Dean) will work 24 hours a day and seven days a week," she said. "She's like the Energizer Bunny."

Armstrong's fellow moderate Councilmember Betty Olds said Bates could be hurt by his wife's campaign for the state Assembly.

"I don't know how people are going to feel about him trying to turn Berkeley into a company town," she said.

She also said Bates' constituency may prevent him from capturing centrist Dean voters.

Olds said she expects Dean to champion her success in revitalizing Downtown and increasing the city's rental stock.

Dean has said she will campaign 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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