Local Elections: Councilmember Worthington Seeks Re-election in District 7

Wendy Lee covers the City Council. E-mail her at [email protected].

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City Councilmember Kriss Worthington rides his bike swiftly down Bancroft Avenue. It is around 7 p.m., and he has not eaten all day. Panting, he rushes up the stairs to arrive at a meeting.

This is a typical scenario for Worthington, who says he is used to completing a full day's work solely on a salad.

Worthington, who has served on the City Council for six years, is running against UC Berkeley sophomore Micki Weinberg for the District 7 seat.

District 7 includes Southside dorms Units 1, 2 and 3 and parts of Telegraph Avenue.

Worthington says if elected, he would continue to advocate for campaign finance reform and raise Strawberry Creek to ground level, where he would push for an environmental walkway to be developed.

Worthington says he wants to bring the creek to ground level on Center Street or Telegraph Avenue. The walkway above the creek would extend from BART to the UC Berkeley campus.

He says he would also advocate building more student housing on Southside.

But in July, Worthington abstained from voting on a proposal to create 35 new apartment units along San Pablo Avenue. He also abstained from voting on a proposal to build 44 apartment units at the corner of Shattuck and University avenues that month.

Worthington says he would not approve of projects that are "not fiscally responsible," citing the recent proposal to renovate the old City Hall, which he says would raise taxes by $48 million. Worthington says he would like to keep taxes moderately low.

But Worthington says he supports Measure L, the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Tax, which would tax citizens for land improvements such as lighted crosswalks and traffic circles. In March, Worthington authored a bill that would lower the speed limit in Berkeley residential areas to 20 miles per hour. The bill is being reviewed by the city manager.

Worthington also supports Measure M, a property transfer tax that would go to the development and preservation of safe and affordable housing.

But Worthington faces criticism from his opponent Weinberg, who says Worthington does not effectively represent his district.

In February, Worthington voted against a redistricting plan proposed by the ASUC External Affairs Office, designed to guarantee a student seat on the City Council. The bill was defeated after failing to receive support from any of the progressive council members.

"Students should represent District 7. We (represent) over half of the community," Weinberg says, citing only 17 out of the 39 District 7 appointed commission seats went to District 7 residents.

But Worthington says he appoints students outside of his district.

"Am I supposed to discriminate against them because they live a few blocks up the street? I don't think so," Worthington says.

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean also criticized Worthington for not fairly representing his district.

"I hear from many students who aren't quite as extreme in their views as he is," Dean says in regards to Worthington's endorsement of divestment from Israeli businesses.

Worthington came from humble beginnings. After running away from home at the age of 14, Worthington was homeless and struggled to complete high school.

Beginning in 1988, Worthington worked as a manager of the University Students' Cooperative Association's Rochdale Apartments on Haste Street. He resigned from his position when he won his City Council seat in 1996.


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