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Council candidate urges ‘transparency’

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Thursday July 18, 2002

This story is part of a series that will profile city election candidates. 


For Anne Wagley, City Council candidate in District 8, it’s all about process. 

“I’m very concerned with fair process and transparency,” said Wagley. “I would like to make sure that when a decision is made, everyone who had an interest felt they were heard.” 

Wagley’s supporters say it is her commitment to process, and her ability to listen, that attracts them to her candidacy. 

“She’ll probably vote for projects I don’t like,” said Tim Hansen, who serves on the board of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. “But she’ll be fair. And I think that’s all you can ask.” 

Supporters say that fairness and transparency will be a relief to neighbors who often feel left in the dark as development projects move through the system. 

“I am looking for candidates who are going to understand neighborhood points-of-view, and Anne has proven she cares,” said Landmarks Commission Chairperson Carrie Olson.  

Wagley, 46, currently heads the Peace and Justice Commission. She also serves on the board of a local human rights group and family foundation, the Dallas-based Partnership Foundation, that has funneled $300,000 in grants to East Bay organizations focused on social justice issues. 

Wagley faces three rivals in her bid for the District 8 seat – Planning Commissioner Gordon Wozniak, Zoning Adjustments Board Commissioner Andy Katz and Housing Advisory Commissioner Jay Vega. Incumbent Polly Armstrong will not run for re-election. 

The district, located in southeast Berkeley, has a tradition of producing moderate councilmembers like Armstrong. But progressive Chris Kavanagh nearly unseated Armstrong in 1996. Observers say the district is almost evenly split between moderate and progressive voters. 

“I know it’s not as easy a district for us as we always thought it was,” said moderate councilmember Betty Olds, who is backing Wozniak. 

In a district of both moderates and progressives, homeowners and renters, seniors and students, candidates have worked to place themselves in the middle, shunning the traditional “moderate” and “progressive” labels and arguing that the two sides must come together. 

Still, those traditional labels have begun to creep into the campaign. Wozniak said Wednesday that his base is in the moderate camp. Katz said that tenants’ rights will be a guiding theme for his candidacy. Vega could not be reached for comment. 

Wagley, who aligns herself with the upstart Berkeley Party, sought to place herself outside the fray. She will not seek endorsements from sitting City Councilmembers, in an attempt to distance herself from the notoriously divided body, she said. 

Progressive Councilmember Dona Spring, who has endorsed Katz, said Wagley could be effective at bridging the divide on the council. 

“I think she has the potential to work with people coming from different political views – spanning the political spectrum from progressive, liberal to moderate, conservative,” Spring said, adding that Katz could bring similar skills to the council. 

But Wagley said transparency and bridging the progressive-moderate gulf will not be her only issues. A recent wave of car break-ins in the neighborhood is also a concern, she said. 

“We think we’re fairly isolated here, but we’re not,” she said. 

Wagley said the police will probably have to remain focused on other neighborhoods with higher crime rates. But she suggested that residents look out for each other and refrain from leaving cell phones and loose change in their cars. 

Wozniak said he has also picked up on the issue, making the rounds in the neighborhood. He suggested that the police might temporarily beef up their presence in the area during the crime wave. 

All the candidates say traffic is an issue in the district. Wagley said she supports transit passes, or “Eco Passes,” for the employees of UC Berkeley and other large employers in the area to ease traffic. Katz, who helped negotiate an EcoPass deal for UC Berkeley students, and Wozniak also voiced support for the concept. 

Wagley, who worked as a financial analyst for Chemical Bank in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said she will also bring budget expertise to bear as the city faces a $3 million shortfall. 

But ultimately, she said, it will be about listening to neighbors. 

“I’m a very open, friendly person,” she said. “I’m approachable and I’m a good listener.”