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2 Green vying for District 4

By Devona Walker, Daily Planet Staff
Saturday July 06, 2002

At least one council race in the November election will likely be amicable. Current City Councilmember Dona Spring, District 4, and environmental activist LA Wood are espousing nothing but words of admiration for each other. 

“We really don’t disagree on that much,” said Spring of Wood. “I think he’s a bit more of a perfectionist than I am. But he’s certainly done good work.” 

Wood echoed her dismay about having to run against an ally. 

“Yes, it’s really too bad that I live in this district,” Woods. “But this is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now.” 

Politically speaking, Spring and Wood are both deeply rooted in environmental activism.  

Wood has led a battle against building the Harrison Playfields on Sixth Street due to poor air quality in the area. In addition, he was a key player in the effort to stop nuclear testing in Berkeley. Wood has been a watchdog against the UC Berkeley laboratory since 1993. He also helped set the groundwater standard for the city. 

As a member of Berkeley City Council, Spring has admittedly taken a different role in many environmental battles, but she says that she is still a member of the Green Party and an advocate of the environment’s. 

Spring refers back to Woods’ effort against the playing fields as an example of how she can at times, for better or for worse, be more willing to compromise than he is. 

“I know he thinks I compromise too much, but that’s a part of the job of being on City Council,” Spring said. “There are so many points of view and many perspectives and people involved, that sometimes it’s better to compromise.”  

The playing fields, for instance. “Sometimes you have so many parents involved and the fact that there are no fitting places in the city for the children to play, you compromise and settle for things like the Harrison Playfields because you don’t have the ideal choice laying before you.” 

But, in the next breath, Spring conceded that the fields have evoked numerous concerns about air quality and that Wood’s commitment brought the issue forward. 

“It would have been better if [City Council] had more information,” she said. “It was one of those situations where the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. And I have to give LA credit for banging the drum on that one.” 

According to Spring, city staff had access to air quality information that Council members did not. That caused Council to outweigh the desire of parents to have access to recreational areas for the children over the concerns of environmentalists. 

After Wood brought to light the air quality conditions, the city conducted tests and concluded that because it was near the freeway, the air quality at the playing fields was worse than in other areas. The city has since monitored the air and is trying to fix the problem. 

The Bay Area Green Party will host a panel discussion in September at which it will endorse one of the two candidates.