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East Bay Express: Scary local election updates

Justin Freitas

On this Halloween holiday, some might find that their deepest fears stem not from ghosts or witches, but from the possible outcomes of the upcoming election. KALW’s Holly Kernan spoke with with East Bay Express co-editor Robert Gammon on this to discuss some of the scariest election battles in Berkeley, Oakland, and the state.

Gammon explains the controversy over Berkeley’s Measure T, which would allow for dense growth on six sites in West Berkeley. Local public employees union SEIU local 1021 wanted to endorse it, but the union’s county leadership voted against it.

“Normally public employee unions endorse measures that would raise revenues for public agencies that employ members of that union,” says Gammon, so it is strange that this is controversial. “For instance the firefighters union is very much in support of this measure because it would generate about six million dollars in new permit fees for new building construction for the city,” and the new buildings would be up to current fire codes.

Opponents of the measure feel that new development will drive rents higher and drive out some long-time residents of the neighborhood. 

And, it is all tied into the Berkeley mayor’s race. Incumbent mayor Tom Bates, up for reelection, is a strong supporter of the measure. His opponents Kriss Worthington and Jacquelyn McCormick are against it.      

There has been a flurry of negative ads in the Oakland municipal elections. 

“Over the last week, Oakland residents have been bombarded by a series of attack ads from councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, councilwoman Jane Brunner, and the Oakland Police Officer's union – and it's all about De la Fuente and Brunner's attempts to unseat councilwoman  Rebecca Kaplan and  City Attorney Barbara Harker,” says Gammon. “There have been numerous ads, and they do include some false and misleading statements as well.”

The Oakland Police Department is in danger of a federal takeover, and the police union is traditionally a big influence in Oakland city politics.

As a final word on scary politics, Gammon added that he wanted to warn people about Proposition 33, on the state ballot. He explained that Proposition 33 “is another effort by a large auto insurer, Mercury General, to change the rules in California so they can charge different rates to people, depending on where they live."

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview. Find more of Robert Gammon’s reporting for the East Bay Express here