Fortunately for all of us in the East Bay, Loni Hancock is running to continue to represent us in Sacramento by seeking a seat in the state Senate. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the campaign for this remarkable woman whose contributions to Berkeley are historic and who will long be revered as a path-breaking leader.
Loni is a long-time Berkeley resident who knows our needs and our aspirations. I recall when she was first elected to our City Council in 1968—a progressive young mother in blue jeans among business-suited male councilmembers. Even then she was committed to serve the best interests of all the people in Berkeley, and foreshadowing her later leadership abilities, her thoughtful intelligence and hard work made her an effective and influential councilmember. She was able to shed light on many city problems, including poverty and segregation, that had previously been swept under the council table. Her example inspired minorities and other women to run for and be elected to the council in the 1970s, leading to a complete change in the political leadership of our city.
Loni’s inclusive brand of leadership has continued throughout her public life. In her two terms as mayor of Berkeley, she balanced seven straight budgets in lean economic times, and at the same time she launched economic development programs and brought new resources to our schools. Thanks to her, Berkeley adopted innovative programs that spread throughout the country, including health centers in high schools, city-funding for child care, ramps on sidewalks for wheelchairs, and regulations about smoking in public places.
During the Clinton presidency, Loni was appointed head of the Western Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education. In this position, she launched after-school programs, early reading preparation, and college preparedness initiatives. She helped schools in California receive millions of dollars in federal education funding.
As our elected representative in the state Assembly, Loni has provided thoughtful leadership on the critical challenges facing California. She is an author of the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, and she has strongly supported universal healthcare in California (and as a result, has the endorsement of the California Nurses’ Association).
She has also distinguished herself as the foremost leader in the Legislature on two of the most important issues facing the state: global warming and reducing the state’s unacceptably high (30 percent) dropout rate from high school.
Loni was co-author of AB32, arguably the most important legislation passed in California in the last decade, which created an enforceable cap on greenhouse gases and made California a leader in the fight against climate change. As chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, she helped guide the legislation to become law and continues to hold important oversight hearings on its implementation. She is the only candidate endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters.
Education has long been the focus of Loni’s efforts and she has worked hard to return local financial control to the Richmond and Oakland school districts. She has authored California’s exciting new law to expand hands-on learning and career technical education to better prepare our young people for college and careers.
This year, Loni was the only Democrat to vote against Gov. Schwarzenegger’s $500 million cut to education, and she is organizing efforts throughout her district to fight against any cuts to our school funding. In recognition of her excellent work on school issues, Loni has been endorsed by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.
It is due to Loni’s outstanding leadership that she has been endorsed by so many leaders and organizations, including Congress members, state leaders, and a host of local officials.
For all these reasons and many more, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Loni for state Senate.
Mim Hawley is a former Berkeley city councilmember.