Eleanor Pepples, 35, is running in District 6 as an independent, unaligned with either the “liberal/progressive” or “moderate” factions of the City Council.
Rather than working with one of the competing factions, Pepples said her strength would be in “working collectively.”
That means finding out what her constituents want.
“I would work tirelessly to listen to different opinions,” she said.
Pepples has already begun what she calls a “listening tour,” going door to door, asking residents about their concerns.
Turning listening into action is not new for Pepples. She has developed these skills as a Strategic Development Analyst in banking and health care.
“On a daily basis, I listen to people’s needs,” she said.
Each of the areas in the city has its own priorities, she said. “I want to ensure that the hills have an equally strong representation on the council.”
Pepples did not hesitate before taking a shot at the incumbent. “I feel strongly that Betty Olds has not fully participated. She’s abstained fifty times on various issues.” For example, in February, 1996, Olds abstained on the Bay Trail Design.
“The role of the councilmember is to vote one way or another,” Pepples said, underscoring that she would listen effectively, review the proposals and come to the best conclusion that she could. She would not abstain.
One of Pepples’ contributions to city government would be making services more efficient. “Road repairs should be concurrent with sewer (replacement) and undergrounding (of utilities),” she said. “There is a cost savings.”
Pepples points to the roads in her district. “I encounter more potholes (there) than in other sections of the city,” she said.
Addressing fire danger is important to Pepples. One way of addressing the situation is to fully staff the department.
For example, there are currently three firefighters on duty per engine. There should be four or five firefighters for each, Pepples said.
How you pay for the added personnel – what kinds of expenditures would be eliminated – is a question she would ask her constituents.
Planning is important to Pepples. “I’m an advocate of livable planning,” she said, arguing that downtown shouldn’t be “replete with skyscrapers.”
Eight stories is as tall as buildings should go, she said. Apartments should be built with a range of incomes in mind, from affordable rents to market rate, she said.
Pepples said she is opposing Measure Y, the ballot measure that restricts owners from moving into occupied apartment units. Although its “goals are laudable,” Pepples says, the measure is “overreaching,” because it will cause landlords not to rent to those over 60 and the disabled, the classes it seeks to protect.
The measure says that landlords cannot move into units of people 60 and over, disabled people or, for those living in the buildings belonging to landlords with a lot of property, those who have lived in their apartments for five years or longer.
Pepples said that when the health disparity study came out, showing the poor health of African Americans in the flatlands, she was surprised. “It’s the type of study the city should work with,” she said, adding that the goal would be to provide the best possible health care available.
Although Pepples has not participated directly in city government, the ability for citizen participation is important to her.
Berkeley is “a mecca for opportunities in public participation in city government” because of the more-than-40 commissions which advise the City Council, she said.
Despite these opportunities, “citizens are not feeling heard or understood,” she said. She would help bridge that gap.
Pepples said she hasn’t decided if she will continue her full-time job if she gets elected to the council. That is something she says she’ll decide when the time is right.
And she hasn’t put a dollar amount on how much money she will spend on her campaign. “It’s a grass roots campaign,” she said. “I’ll raise enough money to win.”