Second Mayoral Candidate Declares, By: Judith Scherr

Friday March 17, 2006

While he has little experience in city government, Zachary RunningWolf, who formally announced his candidacy for mayor on Wednesday, says he knows what Berkeley needs. 

“I’m running on Tom Bates’ record,” said RunningWolf, 43, who opposes the mayor on a number of issues.  

In an interview on the steps of City Hall, RunningWolf challenged the mayor’s support for development, citing rushed plans to build housing on the Ashby BART station property with little citizen input. (After public outcry, the mayor h eld a public meeting on the proposed development.) 

He also condemned Bates’ deal with UC Berkeley. “He went behind the voters’ backs,” RunningWolf said, referring to an agreement Bates brokered between the city and the university. 

Looking south from Cit y Hall, RunningWolf looked down Milvia Street toward a housing project under construction just steps from his alma mater, Berkeley High School. He said he opposed the development, fearing that new neighbors might come into conflict with the “frisky” young teens. Moreover, the housing development won’t serve low-income people, he said. 

Instead of development, the city should support farmers’ markets, the Flea Market and playing fields, he said. 

RunningWolf’s only formal position as a city official has be en serving as School Board member Terry Doran’s appointee on the Peace and Justice Commission. His bio, however, includes a number of leadership positions: serving on the board of directors at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland and being named an elder in the Blackfeet Nation at age 42.  

A community activist, RunningWolf said he has helped to start the American Indian Charter School in Oakland, worked to change the name of Columbus School to Rosa Parks and fought to preserve ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. 

His platform calls for banning genetically altered foods in Berkeley, suing the University of California over the downtown plan, getting the city’s diesel fleet back to bio-diesel and strengthening ethnic and gender studies in Berkeley schools. 

On Wednesday, RunningWolf filed his “papers of organization” with the city clerk, which allows candidates to start raising money for their campaigns. Bates is the only other candidate in the local November races who has filed these papers. At present RunningWolf is the only announced mayoral challenger, although former Planning Commission Chair Zelda Bronstein reportedly will announce her candidacy this month. Formal filing of candidacy papers will take place in mid-July. 

RunningWolf’s website is www. kanatsitapiiksi.org and his e-mail is zacharyrunningwolf@Yahoo.com..