A fifth candidate has entered the race for Berkeley’s hotly contested 8th District City Council seat.
Carlos Estrada, a Green Party supporter and recent immigrant from Mexico, said he will file for the campaign in the next few days. Hoping to gain the support of fellow immigrants and minority voters, Estrada says he will fight for the disenfranchised.
He joins four other candidates – Gordon Wozniak, Andy Katz, Anne Wagley and Jay Vega – in the campaign to represent Berkeley residents in one of the more conservative districts amid the city’s left-leaning politics.
Financial figures released by the city last week provide a measure of progress for two of the candidates.
As of June 30, Wagley received $5,483 in campaign contributions and spent $1,285 on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Wozniak has totaled $17,245 in contributions and spent $5,543.
Because Vega, Katz and Estrada entered the race later than Wagley and Wozniak, their financial records are not due until the end of August.
As the campaign heats up, candidates face a complex set of housing, traffic and crime issues in a district divided between students and locals, young and old and renters and homeowners.
“We need development that’s in scale with neighborhoods,” said Katz, who last week received a campaign endorsement from Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, D-Oakland.
Wagley also puts housing at the top of her priority list. The city lacks adequate housing options for students and low-income residents, she said. She proposes creating additional housing at various locations along Telegraph and Shattuck avenues.
Traffic is another issue. “A lot of people would like to see UC limit the number of student cars both on and off campus,” Wagley said.
Working with UC Berkeley will also be a priority for Katz. The recent Cal grad says the “class pass,” which allows students to ride AC Transit for free, should be extended to UC Berkeley faculty and staff.
Traffic safety is a big part of Wozniak’s campaign. “We need to reduce traffic speed, especially in residential areas where children are playing,” he said. Additional speed bumps could improve safety, he added.
In addition to traffic, crime is an increasingly important issue, candidates say. A recent rash of car burglaries in the district has worried many residents.
Campaigning door to door, Wagley said increasing neighborhood watch programs could help solve this problem.
Katz said adding more police foot and bike patrols would help curb crime.
Fire safety will also be a critical issue during the campaign, says Wozniak. Reducing brush in both Berkeley and Oakland could help residents avoid a repeat of the deadly 1991 hills fire, he said.
Jay Vega, who could not be reached for comment, intends to focus on both traffic and disaster preparedness issues, according to past interviews with the Daily Planet.
For Estrada, who recently obtained U.S. citizenship and has been living in Berkeley for the past eight years, the campaign presents an opportunity to inform the public of new political avenues.