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Bronstein Challenges Incumbent By JUDITH SCHERR

Friday March 24, 2006

When Mayor Tom Bates ran for office against former mayor Shirley Dean four years ago, then-Planning Commission Chair Zelda Bronstein stood among his supporters.  

“What we got was not what we expected,” said Bronstein, affirming her intention to challeng e Bates for the office. 

In a Wednesday phone interview, Bronstein said she would submit organizational papers to the city clerk Thursday, allowing her to raise campaign funds. In addition to Bates, she’ll run against community activist Zachary RunningWol f. 

And she could face former mayor Shirley Dean. “All my options are open,” Dean told the Daily Planet on Wednesday. “I’m really concerned about what’s happening in the city.” 

Bronstein, who will formally announce her candidacy at a 4 p.m. Sunday gather ing at the Berkeley Alternative High School, said she had known Bates to be a progressive assemblymember with many years of experience, but he had disappointed her.  

She criticizes Bates for what she calls the “secret vote” to settle a lawsuit between th e city and UC Berkeley over university expansion. Bronstein argues that the public was shut out of the deal and that the city settled for less money than it should have. 

A retired English professor, having taught at UC Santa Barbara, Hayward State, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, Bronstein served on the Planning Commission from 1997 to 2004 and was chair for her final two years on the commission. She has taken a leave from writing a regular column on local issues for the Daily Planet. She says her campaign theme will be, “It’s our city,” with priorities being “fair and open government, development that benefits the community and the highest quality city services.”  

Active with the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association and the Progressive Alliance, Bronstein said it is too early to publicize the names of her supporters.  

In a phone interview, Dean said Berkeley needs different leadership—herself or someone else. “I want to see what Zelda is all about,” she said. 

Having just watched the re-run of Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting on TV, Dean said she was particularly upset by the city having taken action on an important development issue—$1.5 million funding for the Oxford Plaza project—at a 5:30 p.m. Redevelopment Agency meeting, too early for many members of the public to attend. “That discourages me,” she said. 

Citing the UC–city settlement agreement and a proposed Ashby BART development project, Dean said she had concerns about “the lack of discussion about development.”  

And “I’m very upset about the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance,” she said. 

Candidates can formally file for the November races in mid-July and must have papers in by mid-August, according to City Clerk Sara Cox. Whoever is elected to the mayor’s seat in November will serve only two years because Berkeley voted in 2004 to change its mayoral elections to coincide with presidential elections beginning in 2008. 

Also in November, citizens will cast votes for four City Council seats: District 1, currently represented by Linda Maio; District 4, represented by Dona Spring; District 7, represented by Kriss Worthington; and District 8, represented by Gordon Wozniak. l