Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Berkeley mayor announces re-election bid

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced his candidacy for a third term Monday on the steps of city hall surrounded by five other council members who are endorsing him.

His challengers so far include former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean and activist Zachary Running Wolf.

Bates cited his record on fighting global warming, creating a "green economy," getting homeless people off the streets and supporting development near public transportation centers.

He is endorsed by council members Gordon Wozniak, Linda Maio, Laurie Capitelli, Darryl Moore and Max Anderson.

Bates served one four-year term and is finishing a special two-year term created to bring the mayoral election cycle in line with the presidential elections.

Before becoming mayor in 2002, he spent 20 years as a California legislator and four years as an Alameda County supervisor.

"It's important to meet the challenges of global warming, and we are doing this while balancing the budget six years in a row and achieving the highest bond rating a city can get," Bates said.

Bates' support of the peace activist group Code Pink earlier this year in its fight to get the Marines to leave their Berkeley recruiting station drew national outrage and a move by some Republican congressmen to pull federal funding from the city. But Bates is not worried that will hurt him in the election.

"Berkeley is for free speech," Bates said. "We should realize the AdvertisementMarines have a right to be here, and we have a right to protest them being here."

Dean, who was mayor from 1994 to 2002 and a councilwoman from 1975 to 1982 and again from 1986 to 1994, said she has "had enough" with Bates as mayor and plans to "point out problems with his record."

"I think what we have is a disengaged mayor who has not been accessible, who has not been proactive and who has not been standing up for Berkeley," Dean said.

"We have these huge problems with UC Berkeley, and we could have avoided some of this controversy but instead we are mired in lawsuits."

Dean cited what she sees as problems with a long range development plan Bates hashed out with the university and a needless lawsuit over the school's plan to build an athletic training complex next to Memorial Stadium.

"If the mayor had been talking with the university as far back as 2002 or 2003, we could have avoided some of this," Dean said.

Bates said he is "willing to let my record stand up against anyone and I was fortunate to get 62 percent of the vote last time around."

The last time the two went to battle in an election was in 2002 when Bates unseated Dean, winning with 55 percent of the vote compared to Dean's 42 percent.

Running Wolf was not available for comment Monday.

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