Election Section

Letter to the Community: By BOONA CHEEMA

Tuesday October 19, 2004

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have lived here for 33 years and have witnessed my much-loved city at its worst and at its best. On Sept. 24, my son Azad Ariel, age 33, died. He was bi-polar and often scared of becoming homeless in this city which he saw as polarized by the very issue that I have committed my life to. He was my guide in so many decisions that I have made to find the best care for those of our sons and daughters who are mentally ill and homeless or near homeless. 

In the outpouring of support for me and his five-year old son Marcus and his soul-mate Stephanie, Berkeley showed its best side. The letters, the flowers, the cards, the phone calls came from all sides of the political spectrum—the anarchists, Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Peace and Freedom, communists. Prayers were said by Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Native Americans, Quakers, Sikhs, and Unitarians—people of all ages, classes, genders, and colors came together to give my family peace and love, and to say good-bye to a shining light in Berkeley—Azad. 

This was the first time that Azad had registered to vote, and will not be able to cast that vote. His wish for those of us who are going to vote would be that we vote for excellence and not politics, reality not dreams, creativity not mediocrity—his values. 

I deeply appreciate the love you have given us in the last few weeks and after a break to heal and renew, I look forward to working with this city with greater resolve and clearer purpose. 

boona cheema