Local Elections: Incumbent Linda Maio Hopes To Retain District 1 Seat





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Since Linda Maio took her City Council seat 10 years ago, she has advocated for affordable housing, green buildings and solar energy.

If re-elected as City Council member for District 1, Maio says she will continue to be a strong proponent of city environmental programs such as the Green Building Program and Berkeley Eco-House, which sponsors solar energy education for city youth.

Linda Maio

While Maio has focused heavily on community environmental programs, she says the City Council has not accomplished enough.

"Except for energy, the environmental programs have fallen by the wayside under the current leadership, (and have) gotten no more than lip service," Maio says. "We need a central coordinating effort in the city."

In June, she supported the allocation of nearly $100,000 to promote the use of environmentally responsible building materials.

In November 1999, Maio wholeheartedly supported a resolution to explore ways of reducing automobile use in the city, including tripling fines for motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Maio blames party politics and internal squabbling for the council's inability to move forward on important matters.

"The council is, as you know, pretty well divided," says Councilmember Betty Olds. "I don't work with Linda very often. It's probably our age difference."

Characterized by some as a "middle of the road progressive," Maio is known for casting the swing vote in battles between the progressive and moderate council members.

"No matter how right wing somebody is, she'll listen to them," says Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Maio holds a track record of voting in favor of increasing affordable housing.

In October 2001, Maio supported a bill that would give at least $1 million to the Berkeley Housing Authority, which subsidizes rent for 1,600 low-income tenants in Berkeley.

In July, Maio condemned a measure on the November ballot that would impose limits on building heights, saying Berkeley did not need to limit growth because its population has actually shrunk in recent decades.

Maio is running against Rhiannon, a Berkeley resident who says, "Linda isn't big on community input."

Rhiannon also scrutinizes what she calls Maio's overzealousness with housing development.

"She never met a housing plan she didn't like," Rhiannon says.

Maio says she hopes the City Council will maintain its reputation as, what she called, the nation's leader on progressive issues.

"We have fallen behind many other cities in areas where we used to lead," Maio says. "The council took actions from a position of growing support that reflected the values of the community."

In September, Maio supported a City Council bill to curb prostitution at massage parlors, but says she ultimately supports the legalization of prostitution.

Still, Maio says believes her experience and dedication make her the most viable choice.

"I know Berkeley well-its values in education, in the environment, in gun control and in its commitment to social justice," Maio says. "And I can reflect those values on the council."

Maio began her political career in the 1970s by initiating the movement to create Ohlone Park with the land previously intended for the construction of a Peralta Community College administration building.

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