Kriss Worthington has a steep climb on his journey to unseat Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in November, but he took the first step Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.
Worthington is not the first mayoral candidate to file. "I have not asked a single soul for an endorsement yet," the late-runner said. "The only person that I really got support from is my boyfriend. I didn't want to tackle such a gargantuan task without his permission and his support."
Running on a you-don't-know [what the mayor is doing to Berkeley] motif, Worthington scornfully observed, "some people say Richmond and San Pablo have a more progressive city council than Berkeley."
"We were first in the nation to do hundreds and hundreds of policies and in recent years, it's a battle to get Berkeley to be one of the first hundred cities to do something, sometimes," Worthington complained.
Worthington seems to be running for the ideal that Berkeley could again be great.
"The people of Berkeley are a bastion of liberal/progressive ideas," Worthington said. "They have so many wonderful ideas. There's graduate students, undergraduate students, the average person that just has a regular old job .... we have lots of great ideas of how we could actually accomplish our goals…."
But what if they aren't? What if they favor the Mayor-sponsored no-sit ordinance? What if they buy into the whole development is good, clean-off the streets, Berkeley-must- change mentality?
What if the shoot out at OK Corral comes down to the shoot-out at the ballot over sit-lie?
Or maybe it will be a shoot-out between old allies turned enemies. Acknowledging that he once supported Bates, Worthington observed that "the Mayor is not doing the things that most people think he is doing. People think he is the Tom Bates of 20 years ago so they're like 'Oh! My friend! He was my friend for 20 years' And they think that that's who he still is. But if you look at the council meetings…You know, he's leading the fight against environmentalists, against labor policies, against affordable housing, against the social equity issues of South and West Berkeley….That's not the Tom Bates that these people think that they know."
If Worthington can convince Berkeleyans they can be proud of their city once more, that the sit-lie ordinance is a fraud, that they need to catch up on Tom Bates' seeming ideological flip-flop--then he might make a real run for it in November.
Worthington squeaked through a tight race for re-election as District 7 councilman, only rallying with fiery rhetoric in the eleventh hour of the tightly contested race with George Beier. Once again he is an underdog.
If elected, he could expect a fight with what he calls moderate-conservative council members. But Worthington seems to be putting his political capital on the line--to restore Berkeley's progressive tradition.
In defeat for the tightly contested district seven council seat, George Beieir commented disgustedly that some on Berkeley's Southside seemed stuck in the past.
Worthington continues to fight for that past.
Thomas Lord contributed to this piece.