To the Editor:
When my family moved to south Berkeley almost six years ago, this neighborhood was a frightening place. Drug dealers pedalled openly on the streets, soliciting all, and enlisting the active participation of young children. My neighbors were so overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the crime level that we had a hard enough time even reaching out to each other, much less anyone else and when we did, we had a hard time getting the city to take the situation as seriously as it warranted. That is, until we connected with Shirley Dean. Dean was, and is, the one reliable person who always listened and responded with appropriate action. She doesn't just talk a good line; every single time we talked to her about the desperate problems in our neighborhoods, she acted and did whatever was possible for each given situation. She made sure all the other city agencies, in a position to respond to our needs, were contacted and engaged. She followed through and we developed an active, constructive, three-way chain of communication with the police department, ourselves and the mayor.
Not all the problems have been solved. Some of the problems have been plaguing south Berkeley for the past 30 years and even consistent, dedicated effort doesn't provide solutions to every woe. Nevertheless, south Berkeley is a far better, far safer place to live and raise your children than it was a few years ago and before I met Dean. Quite frankly, I can't imagine where we would be now had it not been for the mayor's tenacious support. I hope my neighbors will retain a clear memory about where we were, how far we've come and just how very much we owe to Dean when it's time to vote in the next mayoral election.