There were few surprises at the Berkeley Democratic Club endorsement meeting Monday night at the Northbrae Community Church in north Berkeley.
Holding true to its moderate philosophy, the club endorsed incumbent Betty Olds in District 6, chose Betty Hicks over progressive incumbent Margaret Breland in District 2, backed the pro-business James Peterson over radical Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek and picked Miriam Hawley for District 5, who was also endorsed by the Greens and Liberal Democrats that make up Berkeley Citizens Action, denying the endorsement to Landmarks Commissioner Carrie Olson.
Chartered by the California Democratic Party since 1934, the moderate BDC and its progressive rival, the BCA are “probably the two most organized political organizations in town,” said the meeting’s master of ceremonies Mary Ann McCamant.
The club sent a letter to all candidates that filed for office and requested that they respond to schedule a 20-minute interview with a panel of 16 board members. City Council and School Board members were also asked to respond in writing to a battery of questions.
All candidates who showed up, whether they had been supported by the BDC board or not, were given a strictly-timed two minutes to speak to the crowd of more than 50 people.
Confident that the endorsements were an academic exercise in District 6 – BDC has long supported incumbent Olds – challenger Norine Smith felt she should make an appearance regardless.
“We know that the BDC (board) is going with the incumbent, but you never know what the rank and file are going to do,” she said.
John Selawsky, a School Board challenger and card-carrying Green, said he knew there was no way he could get the endorsement because of his political affiliation, but said he wanted to practice his oratory skills.
“I get a little practice speaking to a not-so-friendly crowd – well, I don’t know that they’re not so friendly,” he said with a smile, “But I know they’re not going to endorse me.”
Though the board was permitted to recommend two candidates in a race, to receive the club’s full endorsement a candidate had to receive 60 percent of the membership vote, McCamant said.
In the AC Transit Director Ward I seat left vacant by City Council District 5 challenger Miriam Hawley, the board recommended both Berkeley resident James Sweeney and North Richmond resident Joe Wallace. After the votes were tallied, it was Wallace who came away with the endorsement.
In the Superior Court Judge race, neither David Krashna nor Mark Klieszewski received a 60 percent majority.
“(The endorsement) gives you some sense of traditional legitimacy,” said endorsee James Peterson. “The BDC’s members are well-versed, well-read and concerned about the progress or lack thereof in the city of Berkeley.”
Besides the ballot measures listed below, the BDC also endorsed Measure B on the Alameda County ballot and the Peralta School Bond. They did not endorse or oppose Measure U – an ordinance correcting an error in the business license tax.
The BDC endorsements for the Berkeley City Council are:
• Betty Hicks, District 2
• James Peterson, District 3
• Miriam Hawley, District 5
• Betty Olds, District 6
• Peggy Schioler, rent board
• Joaquin Rivera and Sherri Morton, School Board
• Daryl Moore, Peralta Board of Trustees:
• Joe Wallace, AC Transit Ward I
• Greg Harper, AC Transit Ward II
• no endorsement, Superior Court Judge:
Ballot Measures Endorsed:
• Measure AA – Bond to repair, upgrade and add new classrooms
• Measure BB – A tax to provide safety and essential maintenance on school buildings and grounds.
• Measure P – Bond to fund renovation of branch libraries
• Measure Q – Bond to fund the mobile disaster fire protection system
• Measure R – Bond to fund the renovation of the warm water pool
• Measure S – Ordinance increasing rate of special tax to fund park maintenance, city trees and landscaping.
• Measure V – Gann Limit override for library relief act of 1980
• Measure W – Gann Limit override for parks maintenance tax
• Measure X – Gann Limit override for emergency medical services tax
Ballot Measures opposed:
• Measure T – Ordinance authorizing a special tax fund to fund maintenance and installation of streetlights.
• Measure Y – Ordinance amending rent stabilization ordinance, relating to owner/relative move-in.
• Measure Z – Resolution authorizing low rent housing.