To the Editor:
I have been interested to read, both in the Daily Planet and in other local papers, editorials and articles on the upcoming mayoral election between eight-year incumbent Shirley Dean and Tom Bates, husband of our previous mayor, Loni Hancock. I wish to offer my perspective.
I’ve spent my whole life in Berkeley, excepting four years at UC Santa Cruz. I never became very aware of domestic Berkeley politics until recently – after all, last time I lived in this town, I couldn’t vote. It is very clear to me, however, that Shirley Dean must be doing something right.
As I was growing up in the early 90s, Berkeley wasn’t doing very well. Downtown seemed increasingly dirty and run-down, there weren’t many new businesses opening, and some local cultural mainstays like the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival were moving elsewhere. When I came back from Santa Cruz, I was shocked – there were a few new buildings, new businesses, and the old ones were actually getting some attention.
The renovated library is fantastic, I went to the Berkeley Rose Garden yesterday (which was wilting a few years ago) to see it in full bloom and beautiful, and I hear and read about projects in the works, like a real train station at the bottom of University Avenue and new tenants for the UC Theater, which make me very, very happy.
Mayor Dean probably did not do all of these things herself, but the “Arts and Commerce” emphasis certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting Berkeley.
- Gabriella Raymond