My name is Raudel Wilson and I am running for City Council in District 4. I am proud to say I have been married to my wife, Grace, for the past nine years and I am the proud father of two young boys. My oldest son “Little” Raudel started Kindergarten this month at Washington Elementary School. My youngest son, Albert, is 2-years-old. He spends his day with my wife enjoying Habitot Children’s Museum and a wealth of local parks. My family and I live in the neighborhood just west of the Downtown. Each morning I have the privilege of walking my son to school on my way to work.
I fell in love with Berkeley as soon as I began working on Shattuck Avenue in 1997. Berkeley has such a diverse community. I believe that much of our rich environment comes through Berkeley’s many non-profits. I have had an opportunity to serve as a board director for Options Recovery Services, a Downtown drug treatment program. I served as President of the Downtown Berkeley Association. I am an active member of the Berkeley Rotary Club and I currently serve as a board director for the Berkeley Albany YMCA.
I have also been able to get a look at many of the issues concerning Berkeley through various civic duties. I currently serve as a commissioner for the Zoning Adjustments Board. I have served on this board since January 2005. As a zoning commissioner I voted to declare Dwight Way Liquors, The Berkeley Market, and Black & White Liquors as public nuisances. Each of these stores had their own story of why I felt they no longer properly served our neighbors. In the case of Dwight Way Liquors, the store was cited for numerous violations such as selling alcohol to minors, allowing drug dealing in front of their store, and allowing neighbor’s yards to become dumping grounds for drug paraphernalia and liquor bottles. I voted for their immediate closure. This helped end the living nightmare that the neighbors had been putting up with for years. This is the type of business Berkeley does not need. I am also serving as a commissioner for the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. We are currently working on updating a development plan for our Downtown. We are dealing with issues that will shape the future of Downtown Berkeley. These commissions have given me a wealth of experience in planning and land use issues. I am proud to say I have worked vigilantly to protect our neighborhoods.
As a parent I am very concerned about our public schools. All of our children deserve the very best we can offer them. We need to work on bridging the achievement gap both within and between schools. There needs to be a clear path for our high school graduates who want to enter college and those who want to enter the work force. I will work to forge that path. As your councilmember I will work closely with the Superintendent’s office and the School Board to help improve our public schools.
As a tenant I am concerned about the affordability of housing. As your councilmember I will work to build more affordable housing in Berkeley. I want to see affordable housing that is both for rent and available for purchase. I want to see housing for all groups of people. Our elderly, working people, young people, and families. All demographics need to be represented in order to keep Berkeley the unique City that it is. I want to see more family friendly housing built. I want to see more 2 and 3 bedroom units planned. I want to see housing that will allow our bright high school and college graduates to remain in the community they have grown up in. With everything these young people have to offer Berkeley can’t Berkeley offer them housing in which they can afford to live?
As the son of a firefighter, as a father, and a husband public safety is very important to me. Our emergency services need our support. Growing up in a firefighter home I have direct knowledge of the harm rolling “brownouts” can do to our community and to these men and women that give us so much of our lives. This plan passed by the current City Council proposes to close fire stations, on a rotating basis, for 24 hours at a time. This policy puts our residents at risk by increasing response time and creating a domino effect of inadequate coverage for our City. I feel that emergency services for our residents should be non-negotiable.
Finally, as someone who has worked on Shattuck Avenue since 1997, I want to help revitalize our Downtown. For the past decade I have watched business after business leave our Downtown. I have watched store fronts stay empty for years. Currently, the Downtown district is the lowest generator of tax revenue in the City. That means that every other area in the City generates more tax revenue than our own Downtown. This seems completely out of balance and unacceptable. As your councilmember I will work to renew relationships that will result in a new wave of long standing businesses. This will help revitalize our ailing Downtown. We need a family friendly Downtown. A clean place where you can bring your family and friends. A place to play, eat, and shop. A Downtown full of unique shops, exceptional foods, and the spirit that has made Berkeley famous. I will fight to bring our Downtown back to life and make it a Downtown we can be proud of!
I hope I have addressed your concerns. I have been knocking on doors and I have been listening. I believe that talking to individuals is the best way to know what matters to my neighbors. I feel that your concerns are mine. So if you see Little Raudel and myself walking down your street or knocking on your door please say Hi. Tell me what you think should be changed, what you think should stay the same, and what you think could be improved. I want to know and I am listening.
To learn more about me and my campaign for change please visit www.raudelwilson.com