Elect Laurie Capitelli as Mayor of Berkeley

He’s the best choice to carry on Tom Bates’ considerable legacy.


We’re also impressed that Capitelli has mastered one of Bates’ best attributes: the ability to hammer out compromises on controversial issues.

Courtesy of Laurie Capitelli

Over the past decade, Tom Bates has been the best mayor in the Bay Area. Despite near-constant opposition from anti-growth activists in Berkeley, Bates and the city council majority have created a model for other urban areas to follow.

Berkeley’s once-dormant downtown has sprung back to life, and the city’s finances, thanks to increased tax revenues, are in solid shape. And under Bates, Berkeley has become a national leader in the fight against climate change, primarily by embracing smart growth—the building of dense housing along major transit lines so that commuters can take transit or bike or walk to work, rather than using greenhouse-gas-producing cars.

So it should come as no surprise that we’re strongly endorsing Bates’ good friend and ally, Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, to carry on his legacy. Capitelli, who is also an ardent supporter of transit-oriented development, has worked closely with Bates over the years to put Berkeley on the right path.

That’s why Bates is campaigning for Capitelli, and so is Bates’ wife, Democratic state Sen. Loni Hancock, who also used to be mayor of Berkeley. It’s also why Capitelli is backed by the same council majority that stood side-by-side with Bates all those years.

We’re also impressed that Capitelli has mastered one of Bates’ best attributes: the ability to hammer out compromises on controversial issues. Earlier this year, Capitelli spent dozens of hours in talks with city union leaders on a deal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. The pact puts Berkeley at the forefront nationwide for raising wages for low-income workers. The council voted unanimously to adopt the plan.

The Berkeley mayor’s race promises to be close this year because Councilmembers Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington, who have often voted against Bates and the council majority, are running as a sort of team under ranked choice voting. Arreguín also has picked up some significant endorsements, including from progressive former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

We’re also glad to hear from Arreguín that he has “evolved” on housing and is no longer willing to side so often with anti-growth activists in the city. Arreguín noted in an interview with Oakland Magazine that the Bay Area’s housing crisis has increased the need for more housing—both affordable and market rate.

But we’re not quite ready to embrace the new Arreguín—at least not until we see more evidence of him actually voting in favor of transit-oriented development. After all, just two years ago, Arreguín co-wrote a ballot initiation, Measure R, that essentially would have overturned the dense downtown plan that Bates, Capitelli, and the council majority had supported. Luckily, Berkeley voters rejected Arreguín’s measure by a 3-1 margin.    

For many of the same reasons, we can’t endorse Worthington either. Worthington, a progressive who has served his council constituents well and deeply cares about the plight of the needy, has many admirable traits, but we agree with Bates and Capitelli who argue that Worthington too often makes the perfect the enemy of the good—that he’s not willing to compromise enough to move Berkeley forward.

Nitpicking by Worthington and Arreguín is also why so many anti-growthers support them. People who don’t want Berkeley to change realized years ago that Worthington and Arreguín offered their best hope for blocking growth.  

Finally, we like Ben Gould, another pro-smart-growth candidate. A young up-and-comer, Gould is a grad student at UC Berkeley. We think he’ll be a terrific public servant some day, but that he’s not quite ready for the job of mayor. 

In short, if you agree with us and think Tom Bates put Berkeley on the right track—then Laurie Capitelli is the best choice on Nov. 8.

Our endorsements are unanimous selections of our editorial board. If we do not make an endorsement in a race, it means that we could not reach unanimity on a selection.

Published Oct. 6, 2016 at 2:37 p.m.

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