To the Editor:
It now appears inevitable that we will have a hard-fought and ugly mayoral campaign in Berkeley. Contrary to the impression that readers of this newspaper may be left with, though, the mudslinging I've seen has to date been totally one-sided, coming from the incumbent mayor and some of her supporters.
As one indication of this, the term “leftist” has been much in evidence in the Daily Planet's letters column of late. I'd be grateful if the letter writer, or the editor who chose to publish the same scurrilous attack letter three times, would explain to those of us who merely live in Berkeley what that term means these days. Clearly the letter writer thinks it is a negative characterization, but it sounds to me like empty rhetoric, intended to activate some tired old emotional reflex.
Then there's the mayor, who recently wrote to supporters that the mayoral race “is about a fork in the road. One way returns Berkeley to the divisive and destructive slate politics of the past. The other continues the real progress of the present.”
She goes on to characterize Tom Bates as having a “political machine” and tries to attack him by associating him with one of his supporters, Kriss Worthington, an elected member of the City Council.
It is likely futile, but I'd like to appeal to all parties to make this election about Berkeley's future, not its past. Tired old labels won't help me at all in the ballot booth. And there are enough real problems facing our city – problems with housing costs, traffic, the local economy, maintaining our environment and UC's role in Berkeley – that calling names is just a waste of valuable energy.
More than that, it suggests a candidate more concerned about winning the election by any means necessary than about positioning our city to meet future challenges.