Local Elections: Candidate Seeks to Boost Student Representation on City Council

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UC Berkeley sophomore Micki Weinberg juggles his time between midterms, commission meetings and promoting campus activism-all while campaigning for a Berkeley City Council bid.

Weinberg is running for the District 7 seat against incumbent Kriss Worthington, who has been on the council for six years.

Micki Weinberg

More than 50 percent of the residents of District 7 are between the ages of 18 and 24. The district includes Units 1, 2, 3 and part of Telegraph Avenue.

Although he says he does not have any particular plans to improve housing, Weinberg says he plans to use his vote on the City Council to encourage it.

"I don't need to come with a new idea, I need to support affordable housing," he says. "I need to make the city more receptive to it. The job of the city is to support student-friendly affordable housing."

Weinberg opposes Proposition P, which would limit the height of Berkeley buildings, which he says is "counterproductive to affordable housing" and will promote urban sprawl.

Weinberg says Worthington has not promoted student interests or appointed enough students to city commissions. But Worthington says as a council member he has supported student interests.

"I have appointed more students (to city commissions) than any council member in history. They are usually about half of the people I appoint," Worthington says. "I also campaigned very strenuously for more student housing and for giving housing priority over office space (when constructing new buildings)."

Weinberg says he wants to increase student representation in the city, starting by gaining a seat on the council himself.

He says as a council member, he would create a city commission of UC Berkeley students as well as students from all Berkeley "accredited degree granting institutions" and would examine issues such as housing, safety, transportation and the environment.

"We have so many commissions in Berkeley, yet we don't have one for students," Weinberg says. "(The commission would serve) as a liaison between UC and the city to improve 'town and gown' relationship."

Weinberg says the commission will also improve relations between students and Berkeley residents.

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who endorses Weinberg, says he will bring a student voice to the council.

"Micki has impressed me as a person who has a very quick mind," she says. "He seems to be a bright student who has the interest, the energy and the capacity to serve on the council."

Weinberg has served on the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission since he was appointed by Dean in May.

While on the Peace and Justice Commission, Weinberg supported a resolution praising the City Council's resolution to oppose pre-emptive military action in Iraq.

But Weinberg has been "somewhat obstructionist" during his time on the commission and is too new to successfully campaign against a more experienced candidate, says Steve Freedkin, who has been on the Peace and Justice Commission since last January.

"(Weinberg) doesn't understand the process well enough to always know how to participate appropriately," Freedkin says. "He hasn't been around long enough to know that he's running against someone who is a strong advocate of student needs and who knows the community very well."

Weinberg is the founder and president of Akiva Movement, a UC Berkeley organization that helped start the UC Justice anti-divestment petition.


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