Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Election Season Starts

On this first full day of Autumn, it's time to look toward November 4 - Election Day. Television is already bombarding us with ads for and (mostly) against a couple of the statewide initiatives. We've already received mailers and flyers on a couple of Berkeley initiatives (most notably the beverage tax). Last night, the Halcyon and Bateman Neighborhood Associations hosted a candidates forum for our city council member. All of Bateman and the east portion of Halcyon will be voting for district 8. The candidates are (names link to their respective web sites):

George Beier
Mike Alvarez Cohen
Lori Droste
Jacquelyn McCormick

My goal in attending the forum was to get an impression of who these people were. It's always nice to vote for a person rather than just a name. I was pleased that all four candidates were present at last night's forum.

So, what impressions did each candidate leave?

George Beier - "community member." He always emphasized the community whenever he spoke. He spoke about how he has rallied the community around zoning issues, neighborhood problems, Willard Pool, Telegraph, etc. He also used the least amount of jargon. For example, other candidates used the acronym "ADU." He was the only one who actually said what it means (Accessory Dwelling Units, which are structures that can be built in backyards as supplemental housing.)

Mike Alvarez Cohen - "current guard." He talked about being chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board, and his endorsement by Tom Bates. However, he also came across as a bit flakey. When asked about zoning adjustments for a few recent approvals that were met with neighborhood disapproval, he dodged the question saying that either he was not present (Starbucks) or couldn't recall (Telegraph Commons height/parking.) When meeting with a neighborhood you should have been prepared to respond to questions about the ZAB's decisions that most impacted the neighborhood.

Lori Droste - "old guard." She talked about her endorsements, involvement with city commissions, working with the different city organizations. I got the feeling that I would agree with her the most out of the four candidates, but I didn't get an impression of how she would represent me or my neighborhood.

Jacquelyn McCormick - "passionate." She gave the most passionate responses to the questions asked of the candidates. She talked about how the city council needs to change, how she attends council meetings and makes her voice heard. She was also, surprisingly, the only candidate to bring up the city's fiscal issues. I already know that I do not agree with some of her opinions on city measures, but she left the biggest impression on me out of the four candidates.

I'm not close to deciding who will receive my vote, but at least I have some idea about the people running.