Mayoral Candidate Statement: Tom Bates

Thursday October 09, 2008 - 09:43:00 AM

It was almost six years ago that we embarked on a journey to set aside the old political divisions and work together to take on the tough challenges that face Berkeley in the 21st century.  

I am proud of the progress we have made and of the inclusive way we have governed. But there is much to finish and much more we can do—and that’s why I have decided to seek re-election as Mayor of Berkeley in November.  

I have had the immense privilege of working with hundreds of people over the past six years as we made progress on issues from fixing streetlights to fighting global warming. While you might not see the work that went into balancing six straight City budgets and increasing the City’s bond rating to one of the highest in the nation, there is also progress right in front of our eyes. Let’s take a short tour of some highlights: 

• Our downtown is becoming a vital center of commerce, housing, and art. I was proud to help the Freight and Salvage secure a $1.2 million state grant to make their new downtown home on Addison Street possible. Just a couple blocks away is the almost completed David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza apartments—a platinum green office building next to affordable housing. I helped lead a broad community effort to secure millions in state and federal funding for what will be a world center for environmental organizations and advocacy. 

• If you want to see more “green,” visit our first electric car dealership on San Pablo Avenue. My staff and I worked with our economic development team to help the owners find the space, get a lease, and figure out our permit process.  

• Just down the street is the new hypertension clinic at Lifelong Medical on Alcatraz where you can get a free blood pressure screening and referrals for help. I worked with Lifelong and our public health department to fund this critical service. 

• Stop by any one of the eight Project BUILD sites. For the 5th year, nearly 1,000 kids are receiving free books, tutoring from UC students, and healthy diet and exercise programs. My office joined with UC Berkeley, our summer program providers, and the business community to put together this wonderful program.  

• Built over the Ashby BART station, the Ed Roberts Campus will be a center for disability services and national disability advocacy. Congresswoman Barbara Lee and I led an effort to secure over $20 million in state and federal funds to build the new facility. 

• At the foot of Gilman Street, is the just-opened Regional Sports Fields Complex. I created and led the five-city partnership that built the program and worked closely with other cities and parks officials to secure the $7 million in state funding for the project.  

We have done some extraordinary work together and I look forward to joining with you to finish what we have started:  

City leadership on energy and climate change 

Just a couple of weeks ago, the City Council received the draft of our far-reaching climate action plan. Over a thousand Berkeley residents have participated in the drafting and review of this plan so far and I look forward to working together as we finalize the plan and put it into action. First on our list is the October launch of our new solar financing program which will allow residents to install solar and pay for it over 20 years on their property tax bills. 


Closing the achievement gap 

I am also working closely with the school board and community to begin a major and renewed effort to eliminate the achievement gap and ensure that all of our kids graduate from high school ready for college and/or careers. We want all of our efforts—city, school, community, church—to be coordinated and effective so we can reach those kids that need help and support those already doing well. 


Revitalizing our downtown 

Over the past two years, a group of 22 Berkeley residents from all corners of the city came together to work on plan for the future of our downtown. The result of their work is a remarkable community-consensus about how we preserve our history, provide housing, protect our environment, and build our economy. We will be working to make that vision a reality with a new hotel, the Berkeley Art Museum, public plaza, and much more.  


Public safety and human services 

We are just getting started on implementing my Public Commons for Everyone Initiative. After years of a piecemeal and less than effective approaches, we have put in place a multi-faceted new program to provide services to people in need and enforce clear rules for street behavior. We will have guides on the street to help people and looking out for trouble. We prohibited smoking in all commercial areas. We are creating more housing and have opened a new detox facility. We are improving street and sidewalk cleaning. And we created uniform, citywide rules about what is acceptable in our public areas and what is not.  

I am proud to have the support of hundreds of Berkeley residents as well as Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the Sierra Club, a majority of both the Berkeley City Council and the Berkeley School Board, the California Nurses Association, the Alameda County Democratic Party, Alameda County Central Labor Council, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, Berkeley Fire Fighters, Berkeley Police Association, East Bay Young Democrats, Cal Democrats, and the John George Democratic Club. I would be honored to have your support as well. Please call or e-mail me with any questions, thoughts or ideas at (510) 644-2008 or