Committee Issues Wellstone Endorsement Recommendations

By Judith Scherr
Friday August 18, 2006

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club’s electoral committee heard from a host of candidates Wednesday night and recommended that the full club endorse Andy Katz for East Bay Municipal Utilities District, Nancy Skinner for the East Bay Regional Parks Board, Anne Marie Hogan for Berkeley auditor, Dave Blake for Berkeley Rent Board, and Jason Overman over Gordon Wozniak for Berkeley District 8 City Council.  

The committee also voted to oppose the Condominium Conversion Initiative. 

The full club endorsements are slated to take place Sept. 7. 

Katz, Hogan and the rent board slate, which, in addition to Blake, includes Lisa Anne Stephens, Howard Chong, Chris Kavanagh and Pam Webster, are running unopposed. The Wellstone Club was unable to endorse the full Rent Stabilization Board slate because Stephens, Chong, Kavanagh and Webster all are members of the Green Party. Democratic Clubs are prohibited by Democratic Party rules from endorsing Greens. 

Skinner is running against E. J. Shalaby of Richmond, who did not attend the meeting.  


District 8 

The District 8 candidates made presentations and fielded questions, although, following the club’s format, they did not appear together. Both Overman and Wozniak claimed progressive credentials, with Wozniak reminding the audience that he had helped found the April Coalition in 1971 and the Berkeley Citizens Action group which grew out of it. He also touted endorsements from Mayor Tom Bates and Bates’s spouse Assemblymember Loni Hancock. He is also endorsed by state Sen. Don Perata.  

Saying, “I am proud to be the only progressive running for this seat,” Overman pointed to his newly-won Alameda County Central Labor Committee endorsement, and noted that Wozniak had not supported the Claremont Hotel workers’ demands for a union contract.  

Contending that he is “a strong advocate for affordable housing,” Overman, who is a UC Berkeley student and a Rent Stabilization Board member, attacked Wozniak for his uneven low-income housing support.  

Wozniak explained in his presentation, however, that the housing projects he had not supported were not cost effective. “I voted against Brower,” he said, pointing to the $350,000 price tag for the low-income units that will be built at Oxford Street and Allston Way. 

Asked if he supported the Condominium Conversion Initiative that will be on the November ballot, Wozniak said he hadn’t taken a position. “I don’t think it’s good to legislate by initiative,” he said, adding, however, that he doesn’t like the city’s current Condominium Conversion Ordinance because it doesn’t help people buy the unit they’re living in.  

Wozniak said that he hoped to increase home ownership by going back to an earlier council policy of subsidizing the down payment on housing units for moderate-income people. He also said he’d like to see the city’s Housing Trust Fund monies used to purchase older buildings and remodel them, rather than subsidizing new construction. 

Listing his accomplishments over the last four years in office, Wozniak pointed to his demand for accountability that includes a quarterly report by police on crime statistics and quarterly reports on employee accidents. The incumbent did not mention his opponent during his presentation. 

Overman, on the other hand, didn’t point to his record on the Rent Stabilization Board but criticized Wozniak on several counts. He argued that Wozniak did not appoint students and people of color to commissions and he opposed Wozniak’s vote against public financing of Berkeley elections.  

“We need ‘clean money’ now,” Overman said.  


Berkeley City Auditor 

Running unopposed, Ann-Marie Hogan was first elected auditor in 1994. An active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus, Hogan said she first got involved in politics through the anti-Vietnam War movement. “I believed in non-violent direct action, not electoral politics,” she said. That changed over time. 

Rather than campaigning, Hogan spent her time explaining to club members what an auditor does. “We do performance auditing,” she said; she gave as an example looking at police staffing—why does the department use a sworn officer rather than a civilian in a particular position? 

Hogan’s audits are varied: a recent one looked at why patches were failing in utility trenches. The auditor’s reports can be viewed at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/auditor. 


East Bay Municipal Utilities District Board 

Andy Katz, who campaigned unsuccessfully for the District 8 seat four years ago, is running unopposed to fill the Ward No. 4 seat now occupied by David Richardson, who is not seeking re-election. Ward No. 4 includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito and Kensington and a small part of Oakland.  

Katz preached water conservation, use of home graywater (reusing shower water, for example) and toilets whose water use can be varied, as well as the increased use of solar energy. He promised to give up some of his activities—his position on the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Sierra Club board of directors. 

The EBMUD board is often a springboard to higher office. Oakland Councilmember Nancy Nadel and former Councilmember Danny Wan both served on the EBMUD board. 


East Bay Regional Parks District 

Nancy Skinner, once a Berkeley City Council member, was appointed to fill a vacant position on the East Bay Regional Parks District Board in March and is now running for the seat. She talked about balancing needs in the parks, such as places for dogs and for nesting birds. She applauded the use of park land at the foot of Gilman Street for playing fields, saying that it will bring more people to the park.