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Assemblyman Tom Bates likely mayoral candidate

By Kurtis Alexander Daily Planet Staff
Thursday May 02, 2002

The burning question in certain political circles is whether former state Assemblyman Tom Bates will run for Berkeley mayor this November. 

A campaign by the 20-year Sacramento veteran would prompt progressive favorite Councilmember Kriss Worthington to step aside in the race and, according to many insiders, would present the greatest likelihood of unseating eight-year incumbent Mayor Shirley Dean. 

“I have no comment [about my candidacy],”said a curt Bates yesterday afternoon. 

This Saturday, the November Coalition for a New Mayor – a group of Berkeley residents which includes a handful of Progressive councilmembers – is scheduled to endorse a candidate to run against centrist Dean in November. 

Sources close to Bates say a win at Saturday’s nominating convention is just what Bates needs to commit to running. 

“He has indicated to me that if he is drafted by the gathering on Saturday that he will heed to the call,” said friend Max Anderson, chairperson of Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board. 


Leading members of the November Coalition, including Worthington, said they have been urging Bates to accept the group’s nomination for months. 

“It would be wonderful of him to put his decades of elected service to work for the people of Berkeley,” Worthington said. He confirmed that he would drop his consideration of running for mayor if Bates decides to run. 

Worthington also made clear yesterday that his own candidacy for the office is still speculative, despite reports in another newspaper of his declared intention to run. 

While the November Coalition has been considering five possible nominees for Saturday’s endorsement, steering committee member Howard Chong said only one candidate is currently expressing genuine interest — Worthington. 

Planning Commissioner Rob Wrenn, Peace and Justice Committee Member Elliot Cohen and Barbara Lubin, director of the nonprofit Middle East Children’s Alliance are other considerations, as is Bates, according to steering committee members. 

Chong left open the possibility that the November Coalition might support one candidate initially and later change the endorsement, foreseeing a case in which Bates announces his candidacy after Saturday’s convention.  

The filing deadline for mayoral candidacy is August. 

“The most important thing for us to do [as progressives] is to keep control of the City Council,” Chong said, noting that if Worthington runs for mayor, he can not run for another term on council.  

Without Worthington’s widely recognized name on the ballot, the progressives are at greater risk of losing a council seat to a more moderate candidate, she explained. 

Currently, there are five progressive seats and four moderate votes in council. 

A mayoral bid by former Assemblyman Bates would not only allow Worthington to run for reelection and likely retain his council seat but it would result in more votes for a progressive mayoral candidate and elevate the chance for victory, claimed progressive Councilmember Dona Spring. 

“Tom Bates really spans the political spectrum and has broad appeal,” she added. 

A close friend of Bates, Mal Burnstein said Saturday’s convention would play into Bates’ decision to run — though he stopped short of saying it would single-handedly make his decision. 

“We’re very interested in the results of the convention. We won’t run without the support,” Burnstein said. 

He confirmed that Bates was in the process of assessing his support within the community. 

Dean declined to comment on who her challenger might be in the November race, but said her long list of accomplishments over the past four years would fare her well in the running, no matter who the opponent. 

“I always run hard no matter who the challenger is,” she said, referring to back-to back mayoral victories in 1994 and 1998. 


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