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Mayoral Candidates to Debate About the Arts

Berkeley's mayoral candidates will debate the future of art in Berkeley tomorrow in a forum sponsored by numerous arts organizations.

Mayor Shirley Dean said she will stress her role in creating the Downtown Arts and Commerce District.

"(Art) is not only good for the soul but very good economically," Dean said.

Former state assemblymember and mayoral candidate Tom Bates said he will lay out his vision for expanding the arts beyond Downtown.

"(My plan) includes all the arts," Bates said."I'd like to see it flourish all over the community."

The candidates will square off from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Aurora Theatre on Addision Street.

The theater lies in the center of the Downtown district, a concentration of performing arts space, cinemas and public art.

Dean has made her role in the creation of the arts district a centerpiece of her campaign.

Yet progressive politicians, such as Councilmember Kriss Worthington, have called into question the long-term viability of the arts district, given the high housing costs, which Worthington said are driving artists from the city.

Mike Meyers

Poll Shows Berkeley Mayoral Race Close

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean is slightly ahead of opponent Tom Bates in the race for the city's mayoral seat, according to a poll released by an Oakland firm.

The Lake, Snell, Perry, and Associates, Inc., polling firm found that Dean leads Bates 41 percent to 38 percent, with 19 percent undecided.

Four hundred "likely voters" took part in the poll, according to a statement from the firm and the Dean for Mayor campaign.

"Voters give Mayor Dean high job performance ratings and tend to see her as hard-working and effective," said pollster David Mermin in the statement.

The statement did not include the margin of error of the poll.

Bates said with the probable margin of error of 3 percent, the mayoral race is a "dead heat."

"We did a poll, and it shows me (approximately) five points up," Bates said. "It's a close race. Everyone knows it's going to be a close race."

The poll also found voters had a negative view of the current Berkeley City Council. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed rated the council's performance negatively, Mermin said.

Dean and Bates are also running against mayoral candidate John Boushell.

Ben Barron

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