With the teaming of three simpatico Bates opponents this week, Berkeley's mayoral waters heated up. According to these candidates, Berkeley's new ranked choice vote counting system gives opponents a better chance to oust the three-term mayor.
Under the new system, never before used in a Berkeley mayor’s race, voters can choose up to three candidates, and if their first choice doesn’t get a majority, their vote will be transferred to their second choice and then to their third choice until some candidate gets a majority.
With posters of Psycho's Bates Motel hosted by Mayor Bates circulating online, a mighty threesome has emerged, hoping to benefit from Bates' unpopularity with some of the liberal/progressives he was thought to symbolize.
His opponents say Bates has changed for the worse, and John Curl in these pages has laboriously documented those changes.
These three candidates hope that voters will decide to mark their ballots with their three names in any order, and therefore one of them will win.
Don't call us a coalition, says Jacquelyn McCormick, one of the three, "just say we're co-operating to defeat the incumbent."
We're calling them, if it sticks, Two Amigos and an Amiga, or simply the Three Amigos, just to offend linguists. Or even more simply, the Berkeley Three. The amigos angle fits with the candidates' call for more Latinos in city government,
The three, Kriss Worthington, Dist. 7 councilman, who has clashed repeatedly with the mayor recently at council, McCormick, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who is vying to be the city's first hip-hop mayor, spoke Wednesday evening at a Worthington campaign kick-off event at Bacheeso’s on lower Telegraph.
The Three Amigos went into greater detail of their beef with Bates at a noontime Thursday press conference on the steps of New City Hall. At one point Kahlil, Berkeley's hip-hop mayor prospect, left to summon the unhip-hop incumbent mayor to join them in a pre-campaign debate on the steps, but Bates was unavailable.
Calling himself "Your Voice for Choice," Worthington got off to a good start Wednesday at a free-to-supporters buffet attended by more than three hundred hungry Worthington loyalists, who ingested some 600,000 calories. The two-hour event was still feeding at its conclusion.
Worthington read a prepared speech, but went on to speak without a net, saying of Bates, there was nothing "personal" in his attacks on Bates. "I'm not running [against Bates] because I don't like him," Worthington said.
Worthington also pledged not to run for president ("my boyfriend would not permit it," he joked), or senator, or any office higher than Berkeley Mayor. For Worthington, who would retain his council seat if defeated in November for mayor, his heart and soul will always be Berkeley, where he has served District 7 three terms working on four, and in other civic duties in his sixteen year career in Berkeley politics.
At the heart of Worthington's bid for mayor is the goal of restoring Berkeleyans' pride in their town and its governance, bringing citizens back to council meetings (through a streamlining of council proceedings) and being a voice for them and the disenfranchised.
And although he has not said so, his faceoff with Bates might be entitled, “Will the real progressive please stand up?”
He apologized for speaking "too long."
When Worthington and his two amigos re-appeared on city hall steps Thursday, voters were introduced to two fresh voices for change at City Hall. McCormick was last heard from two years ago in her council race against Gordon Wozniak, District. 4.
McCormick, who managed a twenty million dollar real-estate portfolio for Bank of America for ten years and was vice-chair of the United Way in Los Angeles, is stressing Berkeley's fiscal mismanagement, which she says favors high salaries, retirement, and pension payouts, while city streets go unpaved and West Berkeley property owners regularly fight flooding caused by poor city management and misspent funds.
Worthington said that his decision to run for Mayor was solidified when Bates and his council majority decided not to place a bond dedicated to correcting watershed problems, including flooding, pollution of Aquatic Park and other environmental problems, on the ballot, opting instead for a non-specific bond issue which could be used for other purposes.
McCormick, who hosts berkeleycouncilwatch.com, an informational site devoted to city council news, has been critical of Berkeley's "opaque" city budget, which she wants to open to public scrutiny so Berkeleyans may know why city money is not going to the poor, disadvantaged, and those needing social services.
Worthington said he once read the entire 1,600-page city budget, that it almost destroyed him, and that he still didn't understand it.
The hip-hop candidate, Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a hip-hop artist and promoter who grew up in Berkeley, performed with hip-hop colleagues. He gave a preview of how he expects to get out the Berkeley youth vote, buttonholing and interviewing some diffident Berkeley highschoolers at the colorful press conference.
Berkeley highschoolers held their own highly successful Occupy demo this year at City Hall, and have become increasingly involved in Berkeley politics.
From Worthington's official on-line bio:
"First elected in 1996, Kriss is a 16-year veteran of the Berkeley City Council. In that time, he has steadily built a reputation as one of the region's most prominent and effective progressive leaders, making real progress on the issues that matter to the people of the East Bay, including education, housing, transportation, the environment, diversity economic development, and safety."
"Kriss also serves as the official City of Berkeley representative to the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. He also serves as the alternate to the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)."
Ted Friedman usually reports from the South side where Worthington is big news.