Campaign Notebook: On the Road With ‘Little Shirley': No Eats But Plenty of Meets

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

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Editor's Note: The following is the first in a

two-part series, "a day in the life of a mayoral

candidate." It is an account of the reporter's

experience Monday shadowing Mayor Dean.

It was 10 minutes to showtime when Mayor Shirley Dean emerged from the women's restroom in a new, colorful outfit.

Dean wears the red and black tapestry jacket for special occasions, she said, and had carefully chosen it for her fundraising event Monday night.

Shirley Dean

It was now time for the Northeast Berkeley Association forum. Audience members gave a resounding applause to "Little Shirley" after her opening statement, and mayoral candidate Tom Bates stood up and thanked the audience for their applause.

Bates hit a soft spot when he complained about the city's bureaucracy, pointing out his several-week struggle in obtaining a permit to build a fence in his yard. He said Dean had eight years to alleviate the red tape involved in permits and did not improve it.

Following the forum, a disheartened Dean hopped into a blue-gray Toyota Camry packed with fellow moderate council members.

"(Bates) had that meeting stacked," Dean said as she entered the car.

Councilmember Betty Olds agreed, saying Dean could have added more information to help her during the debate.

"I'm not sure who won that debate," Dean said. "But I want to have some fun now. I want to see Rita."

The car, marked with the license plate "BRKLY MYR," headed toward the Berkeley Hills. Dean was holding a fundraising event featuring Rita Moreno at the home of Haas School of Business professor David Teece.

Dean's husband Dan drove in slow-moving traffic.

"Get in, shut up, sit down and hang on," he joked.

Dan later tried to show where a deer was hit earlier that morning, but Dean said, "Let's not dilly."

Soon the conversation turned to Moreno, known for her role as Anita in the 1961 film West Side Story.

"Boy, I wish I could look that good," Dean said.

Olds replied, "Dear, we're not all movie stars."

The council members arrived at Teece's home "fashionably late," according to Dean, by an hour.

The party was in full swing at a swank Berkeley mansion on Tunnel Road when Dean arrived. She went to the bar and asked for a glass of champagne and within two minutes, she began working the crowd.

"Every time you go to something, you should do a little bit of business," Dean told a group of supporters about this advice she had passed on to her son.

Dean quipped she couldn't see the back row at council meetings because of her height of 4 feet, 11 inches.

Throughout the night, Dean repeated the lines, "We're going to win," and "I'm not sure who won that debate."

But supporters assured her she was the winner.

Soon, it was time for her speech. Dean's supporters trumpeted the fact that the mayor's home phone number was listed in the public phone book.

When Dean stepped up to the microphone, someone in the audience yelled, "Give me your phone number."

Dean replied, "It's 524-3223. If you call it, my husband will pick up the phone."

By the end of the night, it was 9:55 p.m.

Moreno came up to Dean, tapping her on the shoulder.

"Listen you old broad, you haven't gone home," Moreno said. "Get your ass out of here."

Dean agreed. She had not eaten anything since noon.

After saying her goodbyes, Dean and her husband walked out of the Berkeley mansion holding hands.

"I aspire to be as tough as she is," said her son, John Dean.


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