Berkeley Challenges Bates By Judith Scherr

Friday March 31, 2006

Explaining why he wants to run for mayor, Richard Berkeley paraphrased Emiliano Zapata: “The only reason to take power is to give it back to the people,” he said. 

Berkeley turned in organizational papers to the city clerk on Wednesday. When a minor error on the form he filled out is corrected, Berkeley will be eligible to raise funds for his campaign. 

He will face incumbent Mayor Tom Bates and other challengers, who include former Planning Commissioner Zelda Bronstein and community activist Zachary RunningWolf. The formal filing period for the November elections begins mid-July and ends mid-August. 

Berkeley says he’s running for office because current local and federal governments leave poor people out of the equation.  

In the past, Berkeley says he has worked closely with people and organizations that serve the disenfranchised and enhance neighborhoods: The Berkeley Food Conspiracy, the Berkeley Co-ops, the Berkeley Farmers Markets, and former Councilmember John Denton. He also worked on the North Berkeley Area Plan. 

Berkeley said he would like to do something about health care services for the poor. 

“You have to take two buses to get health care,” he said. “Community services should be where the poor are—if you’re poor, you’re in trouble.”  

If elected, Berkeley said he would find out what people want. 

“I would send people out to the neighborhoods with questionnaires to put people in touch with neighborhoods.” 

Berkeley, who calls himself “an old Jewish guy from New York,” says his last name is truly Berkeley, though it was changed by his father from Berkowitz..