Berkeley City Councilmembers were not in their office yesterday — not because they were slacking off, but because they were getting the vote out. And it wasn’t even an election year.
Councilmember Dona Spring turned her house into a phone bank to lobby for her favorite for state Assembly Loni Hancock and make sure registered voters went to the polls. So did Linda Maio.
“People have been in and out all day long,” said Spring. “We’ve got lists identifying voters for Loni Hancock and Barbara Lee and we’re calling to check to see if they’ve voted.”
Her volunteers are also going to polls to check their lists of Hancock and Lee supporters against the lists of people who voted. People were also out on foot distributing literature.
“I want to help my friend Loni Hancock, who served with me on the council,” said Spring. “I really want my district to have a progressive.”
Mayor Shirley Dean said that she was out yesterday morning doing her part to sway voters to vote for Hancock’s opponent in the hotly contested state assembly race. She was holding signs for Chris Ramsey and talking to people near polling places.
“It’s kind of a long-term tradition to get people to vote in general and vote for the candidate you’re supporting,” said Dean.
Indeed, for the last ten years, Betty Olds has been an elections monitor for Alameda County. Her assistant said Olds spent 7 AM to 8 PM yesterday patrolling 25 polling places in Berkeley to make sure all the equipment worked as it should and there were no disturbances.
It was a long day for all of them, even though there was no City Council meeting. Kriss Worthington, whose day started at 5 AM, has also been helping the Hancock campaign. He spent election day hanging flyers on doors and calling people to remind them to vote.
He said he was offering people rides to polling places if they cannot get their on their own, regardless of their political affiliation though he did target Democrats. In the afternoon, he rolled one woman to a polling place in her wheelchair and helped her punch holes because she is blind.
“Since I was 14, I’ve been a part of elections and getting out the vote, unlike some gubernatorial candidates,” said Worthington.
“I grew up wanting to see the world a better place. I learned that politics and government was a tool I could use.”