Public Comment

Berkeley Mayoral Race: The Lesser Evil Is Still Evil

By Zachary RunningWolf
Thursday October 16, 2008 - 10:00:00 AM

The two opposing mayoral candidates both have had the position of mayor, both with highly marred terms. First, let’s revisit the Shirley Dean administration which started off with Mrs. Dean not giving up her job with the largest employer in the town (UC Berkeley) while mayor. Can you say conflict of interest? One might say that Shirley Dean is the Dick Cheney of Berkeley. Even Dick Cheney quit Halliburton before taking the vice president’s job after awarding most of the post-war contracts to his former employer. It got worse when Mrs. Dean decided to go after our favorite city councilmember (at that time), Kriss Worthington. She decided to go to Mr. Worthington’s alma mater (in Ohio) posing as his aunt to pull information to get dirt on Mr. Worthington and had it sent to her summer home in Lake Tahoe. Mrs. Dean has also had her share of backroom deals with developers.  

As for Tom Bates, he started off on the wrong foot by stealing over 1,000 Daily Californian newspapers and throwing them in the trash because they had endorsed his opponent, Mrs. Dean. It was an ominous sign of our mayor having to report to his own Police Department on his first week on the job for theft. This would be the canary in the coalmine as for the next six years of empty promises and backroom deals (the downtown plan—a land grab by UCB that the maintenance bill will be on the taxpayers back for the next 15 years and removing dire business revenue from the city’s coffers) would mar this criminal administration. This administration has also not been fair to the homeless and people of color and in fact downright racist.  

On Sept. 22 an African American woman held a day-long vigil on the steps of City Hall holding a sign which read: “Eliminate Bates, he discriminates,” underscoring the fact that Mayor Bates is racist. Also, the cancellation of the city’s lawsuit against the university in the oak grove case is also disrespect to the Ohlone people; without the city’s backing this burial ground is going to be desecrated, not to mention the desecration of a World War I memorial. Also, the Juneteenth debacle where for the first time in so many years the permit was no granted because of time constraints and the police department’s non-staffing on Father’s Day. These actions show the complete disconnect and utter disrespect the current administration has for the people of color in the Berkeley community. 

Voters need alternatives to the status quo and I’m it, being a Native American leader/elder, I am not a politician. I’m a traditional indigenous leader who follows the belief of the seven generations; always asking what our action will mean to those who will arrive on this earth in seven generations, it’s not what kind of world you are leaving for your children but what kind of a world you are leaving for your children’s great great grandchildren. I’m bound to this and this is why if elected I’m donating the entire mayor’s salary to the under-represented groups in our society. The groups start with our elders who teach us not to touch the flame as they have already lived it; they have great wisdom to benefit us all.  

Secondly, to our future generation, the youth, who must be nurtured, trusted and guided thru landmines of life; not criminalized and disempowered. And finally to the homeless, who we give services to but never allow them to come and sit at the decision making table.  

As a long-time resident of Berkeley, coming to the city in 1967, I grew up in South Berkeley in a multi-racial family with adopted parents of European decent and a brother with Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry; I want to see Berkeley be what is always has been: a catalyst for change. My extensive experience in dealing with the university stretches from 1999 during the Ethnic Studies, where the people prevailed, to the recent longest urban tree-sit in U.S. history. I have also served on the Peace and Justice Commission in 1999. I spearheaded the movement to get AC transit to begin a biodiesel pilot program and the name change of Columbus Elementary to Rosa Parks Elementary School. I have also sat on the board of directors for the Intertribal Friendship House, helping the native community center out of $385,000 of debt. As before and present, I will work to keep the university accountable and fight for the needs of our community. 

The direction of the current leadership in City Council and the mayor’s office needs to change to reflect the signs of a global economic crisis and of the crisis of global warming. It must be noticed that neither of the candidates listed have the ability to stand up against the largest employer of this town which has global implications like the British Petroleum (BP) deal to cut down the Amazon rain forest to make “green” energy. Mayor Bates cheers this marriage of a corporation and a public institution as a stimulus for Berkeley’s economy. However, the BP deal with UC Berkeley will create more environmental damage in Strawberry Canyon’s most sensitive area and the ecosystem but also threatens to cut down our last rain forest, our last lungs. Berkeley city government should not fall prey to the corportization that of the university, it should retain its global view acting locally to create the change which is so needed in our world today.  

I can guarantee that the health of our planet and our community will receive the highest priority when I become the mayor. My Native American heritage compels me to value the gifts of nature. Therefore, it is only natural that I give my life’s blood to ensure that future generations will enjoy a planet that is committed to eradicating pollution.  

It’s time for change: RunningWolf for mayor. 


Zachary RunningWolf is a write-in candidate for mayor of Berkeley.