Local Elections: Candidate Faces Tight District 8 Race





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With little support from either of Berkeley's dominant political factions, City Council candidate Anne Wagley is building her campaign on promoting mass transit and preserving neighborhood and historic sites.

Wagley, who has chaired the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, is running to represent District 8, covering Southeast Berkeley and Elmwood. The race is considered the most competitive and costliest of the City Council races, particularly because incumbent Councilmember Polly Armstrong is retiring.

Anne Wagley

Wagley portrays herself as a candidate who could represent both students and homeowners, the two largest-and divided-constituencies in District 8.

Historical preservation and retaining the character of neighborhoods is one of Wagley's main priorities.

Wagley acknowledges that Berkeley will continue to develop to meet population growth, but she says neighbors are often left out of the planning process.

She points to the Gaia Building, the tallest building built in Downtown Berkeley for housing and retail space since the 1970s, as an example of how developers are allowed to skirt city policy and enact it without consulting neighbors.

"Berkeley will develop and change. But the problem is driven by a small number of developers who have received concessions to do projects without informing the neighborhoods," Wagley says.

Wagley has garnered the support of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, one of the leading supporters behind Measure P, which would put restrictions on the height of some new buildings in Berkeley. She is also endorsed by the Panoramic Hills Association, which successfully fought UC Berkeley against building permanent stadium lights at Memorial Stadium.

Wagley contributed $100 to the Measure P campaign in May, but she says she does not support the measure. She is concerned the measure would limit development of affordable housing on commercial corridors like San Pablo Avenue, which could be constructed for UC Berkeley students.

"I gave money to the ballot measure because I wanted the discussion to take place," Wagley says.

One of Wagley's strongest priorities lies in neighborhood issues, pointing to systemic traffic problems that plague her district, including the often clogged two-lane College Avenue.

Wagley proposes an overall traffic plan, including transit passes for Berkeley's major employers, such as Alta Bates and UC Berkeley.

"When things are done piecemeal, or on a block-by-block basis, some people are happy and others are not. There should be more use of public transit and incentives," Wagley says.

Pointing to Berkeley's anticipated $6.4 million deficit, Wagley, a former financial analyst with Chemical Bank in New York, says she supports an audit of city funds, a platform supported by other candidates in District 8.

Wagley has worked for 10 years organizing refugee camps for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

Wagley, who has raised $14,915, is running against UC Berkeley graduate student Andy Katz, who is backed by the left-leaning progressives and has raised $25,675, and Gordon Wozniak, a former Berkeley Lab scientist backed by the moderates, who has raised $40,962. Self-described grassroots progressive Carlos Estrada is also running in the race and has not reported raising any funds.

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