The 33,000 member student body of UC Berkeley has long been rallying for representation on City Council, and this November Zoning Adjustment Board member Andy Katz wants to be the one to bring it home for them.
The 22-year-old Katz turned in his letter of intent with the Berkeley City Clerk’s office on Monday afternoon for District 8 — currently occupied by Councilmember Polly Armstrong who has chosen to not seek re-election — thus making him the third official candidate for the seat.
He will be joined in the November race by Chair of the Peace and Justice Commission Anne Wagley and Planning Commissioner Gordon Wozniak. Wozniak has received the endorsement of outgoing Councilmember Armstrong.
Landmark Preservation Commissioner Becky O’Malley is also rumored to have designs on the soon-to-be vacated seat.
Katz, who graduated from UC Berkeley last Spring and plans to attend graduate school here, said that what District 8 needs is a councilmember who understands the concerns of all the residents and one who is responsive to the unique issues that students bring forward.
“City Council really needs a Councilmember who will stand up for all the people and tackle the issues that really matter,” Katz said, adding that in his opinion transportation, affordable housing and public safety are top tier issues for council to address
In terms of public safety Katz said he’s immediately concerned with disaster preparedness and crime.
“We also need a councilmember in District 8 who will listen and bring council together,” he added.
Last January City Council went through a redistricting process that increased the number of students in District 8. Prior to the redistricting process, student leaders had complained that their voting power had been diluted over several districts, making it statistically impossible for them to gain their own representative on council.
Student leaders like Katz and Josh Fryday, vice president of external affairs of the Associated Students of the University of California have said in the past that it is very important for students to be represented by one of their own on City Council.
Katz and Wagley both acknowledge that a big issue facing the city is the growing rift between the university and the city.
In addition, both candidates say they are deeply concerned with development and the impacts on the neighborhoods of District 8.
“Where the rubber really hits the road is about city projects and how they are impacting the neighborhoods in terms of traffic and shadowing,” Katz said.
Katz does not agree with a proposed height initiative, which proponents contend is a tool to stop the “overdevelopment” of Berkeley, but he says that as a Zoning Adjustment Boardmember he is deeply concerned and experienced in dealing with land sue and development issues.
“But the practical implications of the height initiative is that it undermines the general plan and requires a ‘super-majority’ on city council to get things done,” Katz said.
He also stated that despite criticism from some saying there are a lot of students who care deeply about the city of Berkeley and who choose to hang around after they graduate and who want to participate in the city. And he thinks that he will increase voter participation across the board in the November election.
For Wagley, the top order of business will be facing the city’s multi-million dollar deficit. She says she brings a variety of experiences and skills to get the job done.
“I love this city. I love our neighborhood, and I think I can do a really good job on our city council,” Wagley said. “My legal background and my business experience would be a needed addition to our city council. I’ve done a variety of different things and have a variety of experiences I think will be an asset to council.”
Among her many experiences Wagley listed working for the United Nations as part of field staff overseeing an asylum in Hong Kong were more than 24,000 Vietnamese were being held. In addition, she said she’s worked for various nonprofits in funds development.
She stresses that the biggest priority for the city will be “Managing the budget deficit which is going to impact every program across the board. It’s got to be done wisely and fairly,” Wagley said.
On July 15 nominations officially open where hopefuls must clarify their qualifications for running for council and also present the signatures of 20 Berkeley citizens who endorse their candidacy — nominations close on August 14.