Page One

Bates opens shop

By Matthew Artz, Special to the Daily Planet
Monday July 15, 2002

Former state assemblyman kicks off campaign for mayor 


Tom Bates jump-started the Berkeley mayoral race Saturday, opening his campaign headquarters to supporters who hope the former state assemblyman will defeat incumbent Mayor Shirley Dean this November. 

“I pledge to you that I will work with all my energy to win this campaign,” Bates told the approximately 140 residents on hand at his new and still unfurnished office at 2471 Shattuck Ave. 

Bates, who served in the state Assembly for 20 years until term limits forced him to retire in 1996, accepted the mayoral nomination of Berkeley’s progressive faction in May. He used Saturday’s event to outline key issues and familiarize progressive activists with his campaign staff and strategy. 

Education, affordable housing and the environment headline Bates’ agenda. 

“I believe it is my responsibility and duty to make sure every kid gets the opportunity to get the best education he can get,” said Bates. 

He proposed hiring a deputy mayor that would concentrate solely on youth issues. He added that he would work to better coordinate community resources such as UC Berkeley, Vista College and after school programs to improve education opportunities and job training for the city’s youth. 

On housing, Bates lamented the loss of rent control and said that if Berkeley is to remain a multi-cultural community it has to find ways to build “work force housing” affordable for teachers and other civil servants. 

Bates was equally forceful on the environment, saying that Berkeley needed to regain its position as an innovator and push the environmental envelope instead of lagging behind neighboring cities.  

Bates also addressed the issue of divisiveness on the City Council between the progressive and moderate factions. 

Saying it was time to “break down the Berlin Wall of Berkeley,” Bates presented himself as a conciliator who can bring people of differing opinions together. 

When asked to specify differences between Bates and the mayor’s policies, Bates’ campaign consultant Larry Tramutola said that in July it was more important to familiarize voters with Bates rather than delve into specific policies.  

Several supporters disagreed with the strategy. 

“If you go to these people and just tell them Tom’s my best buddy, they’re never going to listen to you again,” said Judith Bloom who lives in the Berkeley hills. 

“When we create division here, we get off on the wrong foot and we take that out the door,” Bates responded, promising to formulate policies as the campaign progresses. 

“I’m a pragmatist, a person who wants to see things implemented,” he added. “I’m not going to duck these issues.” 

When the meeting ended, Bates and about 50 supporters walked through precincts in south Berkeley, handing out campaign literature to residents. 

Berkeley mayoral races usually get underway in September, but Bates, who has been out of the public eye since 1996, said it was important to raise his profile to compete with Mayor Dean. 

Bates started campaigning door-to-door several weeks ago, and said he plans to continue introducing himself to voters during the next four weeks. 

Bates is also off to a strong start fundraising. As of June 30, the first filing period, Bates said he raised about $50,000. Dean said she raised about $13,000 during the same period. 

Berkeley campaign finance law forbids donations from businesses and limits personal donations to $250. 

Dean said she has started preliminary campaign work, but as mayor, she does not have time to campaign aggressively now. She added that she will run on her accomplishments, among which she mentioned are revitalizing the downtown arts district, constructing the bicycle bridge over the I-80 freeway, providing greater access to health insurance and re-zoning areas to promote pragmatic development.