Late-model Volvos and at least one limousine clogged up a tiny street in the Berkeley Hills Saturday afternoon, as former Mayor Loni Hancock, a Democratic candidate in the 14th District Assembly race, held her last Berkeley fundraiser before the March 15 primary.
Around 150 people -- many of them familiar faces from the glory days of Berkeley Citizens Action -- turned out to the home of Helen Moncharsh to give to Hancock’s campaign and to hear from her most high-profile supporter: Senator Barbara Boxer.
Among the local Hancock supporters in attendance were Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Linda Maio, Berkeley Unified School District board members Terry Doran and Joaquin Rivera, former Ron Dellums aide Bob Brauer and Wally Adeyemo and Josh Fryday of the Associated Students of the University of California.
Boxer gave Hancock a rousing introduction, saying that she numbered Hancock and her husband, Tom Bates among her personal heroes.
Bates represented the 14th District in the Assembly between 1976 and 1996.
“They don’t have to take a poll to figure out what’s right,” she said.
Boxer said that though Hancock faced significant opposition in the person of Charles Ramsey, she was confident that Hancock -- who, she said, represented the district’s traditional interests -- would be elected.
“With the working men and women on your side, with youth, with the progressive community, the environmental community, the peace movement -- that’s Berkeley,” said Boxer. “That’s why you’re going to win.”
Hancock acknowledged the ASUC representatives along with at least two Berkeley High School students in the crowd. She said that all her supporters, of all ages, would have to pull very hard in the four and a half weeks remaining before the primary.
“Over the next 32 days, we’re going to make this something for all generations,” she said.
Hancock, who served as head of the Western Regional Office of the US Department of Education during the Clinton administration, emphasized the need to rebuild the California school system, which she said had fallen into deep disrepair.
“I’m going to use the experience I had in Berkeley and in the Department of Education to fight for our schools every day in Sacramento,” Hancock said.
Hancock said that her platform -- which, in addition to education, focuses on environmental protection, public transportation and health care -- would follow and build upon the Berkeley tradition, which, she said, has always been at the forefront of such issues.
“This district has always been the district that has defined what is possible in the state,” she said.
Fred Collignon, a former City Councilmember and professor at UC Berkeley, said that though he had his differences with Hancock in the past, his decision to support Hancock was an easy one. “I worked with her all the time, across political lines,” said Fred Collignon. “I find her to be a very talented lady.”
After the speeches, Carole Norris, a one-time BCA candidate for the Berkeley City Council, told the crowd that though each of them had already given, Hancock needed to raise an additional $5,000 for an upcoming advertising campaign.
Norris called out to the throng, asking who could give $500. Four hands went up, each of them receiving applause in turn. She asked who could give $250. Fewer people stepped forward. There were quite a few pledges but it was unclear, by the end, whether the $5,000 had been raised.