A recent Stanford grad, Christian Pecaut, 25, is ready to change the world. He wants to start as Berkeley’s next mayor.
In fact, Pecaut moved to Berkeley from San Francisco a couple of weeks ago with the express purpose of running for office. He joins a growing field of challengers to Mayor Tom Bates that includes former Planning Commissioner Zelda Bronstein, Zachary Runningwolf and Richard Berkeley.
Pecaut says he’ll take out organizational papers for mayor as soon as he gets confirmation of his new Berkeley voter registration from the Registrar of Voters office.
One of the top issues in Pecaut’s campaign will be the eradication of homelessness. He says he’s putting together a plan focused on attacking the heart of the problem—getting the Republicans out of office—as well as improving services for homeless in the short term.
Pecaut has been to Homeless Commission meetings and says he has friends among the homeless community. He points to “various indignities inflicted” on that population, including being offered “unsanitary showers.”
Calling program directors “profiteers of poverty,” Pecaut notes that in the proposed 2006-2007 budget, nonprofit organizations that fund services for the homeless using city funds will receive a 3 percent augmentation without a review of services delivered.
Asked questions about potholes, library management and the storm drain system, Pecaut concedes that he is a novice to the nuts and bolts of city governance.
“I don’t have the exact details of why the potholes are not fixed,” he said, noting, however, “I’m learning very quickly.”
Local needs can be met, he said: “All the problems seem to be manageable.”
While Pecaut plans to learn more about the details of city governance, he says the real problem is government “unresponsiveness.” Pointing to developers, he said: “The citizens know what the problems are. City government seems to cozy up to [developer] interests.”
Pecaut says he is not employed at present. Instead of working, he will concentrate on running his campaign. Most recently he has managed the campaign of Green Party hopeful Carol Brouillet for the 14th Congressional District on the Peninsula. He says he will continue to consult for Brouillet.
Local problems can be resolved by addressing national issues, especially getting rid of the Republican administration, he said. The problem is the “constant threat of terror” being put forward by the Republicans, he said.
“It’s almost all false, but people are so terrified they can’t focus on other issues,” Pecaut said, adding that he is heartened by the City Council’s recent resolution in favor of impeaching the president and vice-president.
“I will permanently remove the Republican Party from power in the United States for setting up 9/11,” Pecaut says on his website, www.berkeleymayor.org.
Photograph by Judith Scherr