To some—especially incumbent Councilmember Dona Spring who clobbered him in a nasty District 4 race in November—Raudel Wilson looks like a carpetbagger. The 30-year-old banker moved to Berkeley just two years ago and now, after being shut out by Spring’s win with 71 percent of the vote, has moved out of town.
“This comes as no surprise,” Spring said. “He knew so little about the district. He was set up by the Chamber.”
Wilson was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce whose political action arm spent at least $7,290 on mailers attacking Spring. Accountant Stacy Owens was both the Chamber political action committee’s treasurer and Wilson’s campaign treasurer.
“His image as a carpetbagger is now complete,” Spring said.
Not so, says Wilson, who confirmed in a phone interview Wednesday that he had moved to Hercules last week. The move was a family decision, Wilson said.
In Berkeley, Wilson had rented a flat on the ground floor of a two-story house, which he said was too small. “I have two little boys and an 18-year-old niece,” Wilson said, adding, “I really wanted to stay in Berkeley.”
Wilson said that to rent a house or larger apartment in Berkeley would have cost $800-to-$1,000 more than he had been paying to rent the flat at 2217 Roosevelt Ave. Wilson said it was important for him to move to a community with good public schools. He looked in Albany, but it was also too expensive.
The three-bedroom house he rents in Hercules costs less than the rent he paid for the smaller flat in Berkeley, Wilson said. According to Rent Board records, Wilson had been paying $1,800 per month for the two-bedroom flat.
“It was a hard decision,” Wilson said, explaining that he had enjoyed working as a Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner and Downtown Area Plan Committee member, both of which he said he has quit. Wilson manages the downtown Berkeley Mechanics Bank and said he will continue to be active through the downtown business associations.
Wilson said he understands how it might appear, having moved to Berkeley just two years ago, then moving out right after the election.
He explained that he believed when he first moved to Berkeley in 2004 that he was going to be able to buy two units in a triplex he moved into as a renter on Channing Way, also in District 4. When the handshake deal didn’t work out as he thought it would, he moved his family to the Roosevelt Street flat.
Councilmember Darryl Moore, who appointed Wilson to the Zoning Adjustments Board, said he understood his decision to move. “It was a family decision,” said Moore, “He has two young kids and wanted a backyard.”