Public Comment

Commentary: Setting the Record Straight

By Raudel Wilson
Friday December 01, 2006

I was shocked and disturbed by an article I read in the Nov. 28 issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet. In this issue I read that Councilmember Dona Spring was planning to file a complaint against the Business for Better Government Berkeley Chamber of Commerce PAC. I know that Ms. Spring has every right to file a complaint against the PAC and she feels that her personal reputation and integrity was put at risk by the mailers sent out during the last week of the election. What I was disappointed to see is Ms. Spring’s allegations against me in the paper.  

Ms. Spring accuses me of collaborating with the Chamber PAC to coordinate mailers and messages. I want to publicly set the record straight that I ran a positive, clean, and independent campaign. At no time did I discuss campaign tactics or strategies with members of the Chamber PAC. My mailer was designed by volunteers and myself and was printed by a local union printer. Ms. Spring also points to the fact that my campaign treasurer, Stacy Owens, was also the treasurer for the Chamber PAC. I have known Ms. Owens for five five years and when she found out that I was going to run for office she approached me and offered to her professional services. Ms. Owens works for a local CPA office and is a professional political campaign treasurer. During all the times that I met with Ms. Owens she never discussed the campaign efforts of the Chamber PAC. I know Ms. Owens to be an honest person who maintains confidentiality among her clients. Furthermore, it is insinuated that my attendance at the Chamber PAC’s Fundraiser on September 21st means that we were collaborating campaign efforts. The night of Sept. 21 I had my own personal campaign fundraiser at a neighbor’s home. I arrived at the Chamber PAC’s fundraiser around 7 p.m. when more than 50 percent of the guests had already left. I stayed and mingled with guests for about 30 minutes before everyone left.  

The day after the election I called Ms. Spring and congratulated her on her success and I told her that I hoped we could work together to help make District 4 and the City of Berkeley a better place. I continue to serve on the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. It seams that instead of Ms. Spring accepting her victory and moving forward to improve Berkeley she has decided to spend her time filing frivolous complaints. What I think Ms. Spring has to consider is why did the Chamber PAC launch such a large and concentrated campaign against her. Whether or not you decide to blame Councilmember Spring for the downtown’s problems the fact remains that over the past 14 years the downtown area has become the lowest generator of tax revenue for the entire City of Berkeley. 

Instead of filing a complaint against the Chamber PAC maybe Dona should reach out to the Chamber and find out why they have lost confidence in her. Maybe Dona should take the time to sit down with members of the business community and hear their concerns. We need to remember that encouraging business growth helps generate tax revenue that allows the city to provide social services, fix infrastructure, provide adequate fire and police coverage, affordable housing, ect. Dona’s district should be the driving force behind our tax base. Instead it is dead last. Dona wants to know why it was pointed out that small businesses are leaving our downtown. It is because downtown merchants (I have worked on Shattuck Avenue since 1997) are tired of seeing business after business leave our downtown. We are tired of watching storefronts stay empty for years. Concerned business leaders want Berkeley to provide a fair chance for businesses to survive and grow in this city. They also want to know that they have the support of their local representative. If Dona is ready to move Berkeley forward and help improve her district’s lagging tax revenue then she should accept her victory and spend her time to mend relationships that have long been ignored.  


Raudel Wilson was a candidate for City Council.