Berkeley City Council Race Still Undecided
BERKELEY - The tightest Berkeley City Council race in recent history remained too close two full days after the election. While District 7 incumbent Kriss Worthington narrowly led his opponent George Beier by 131 votes as of Thursday, officials at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters said it could take up to 28 days to finalize the totals.
Worthington has not declared victory, but his supporters have no doubt he will win.
“It’s a comfortable margin,” said Lisa Stephens, a newly elected Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner.
Worthington acknowledged his lead over Beier and said the current vote count looks promising.
“I’m eager to know the final numbers,” he said. The Registrar reported 1,464 votes for Worthington and 1,333 for Beier based on precinct counts.
As the Registrar tallied remaining absentee and provisional ballots, Beier remained hopeful.
“There is still a chance,” he said. “But, if votes come in at the same rate, Kriss will win. I’m expecting to lose,” Beier said Thursday.
Beier, who ran against Worthington eight years ago, said he will devote his time to volunteer opportunities if he fails to secure the City Council seat for the second time.
Both candidates spent Election Night in uncertainty as they awaited precinct and absentee ballot counts.
Auto mechanics, college students, and city commissioners crowded Kriss Worthington’s campaign headquarters on Telegraph Avenue Tuesday night to support the current District 7 City Council member.
Representatives from the Machinist’s Union, which represents auto mechanics, praised Worthington’s leadership during a recent strike.
“Kriss took time out of his day to come by our strike and see what was happening,” said Gary Horrocks, a Berkeley auto mechanic. “He’s been at every rally.”
The union’s Alameda County director Don Crosatto noted Worthington’s genuine support. “He wasn’t just there to get his picture in the paper.”
Worthington supporters say they have no doubt he will continue his efforts to represent students and revitalize Telegraph Avenue, among other things.
UC Berkeley political science major Candace Nisby, 19, gathered student support for Worthington’s campaign.
“What really pulled me to Kriss was that he appointed students to city commissions,” she said. During the past 10 years, Worthington has appointed 72 students, a number far greater than any other Council member. “We need representation, people to fight for what students believe in.”
Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner Jesse Arreguin is one of many students who became involved in city politics with Worthington’s help. He appreciates Worthington’s efforts to increase the number of young people in city government.
Worthington’s supporters criticized Beier for pouring large sums of money into his campaign. Beier spent $72,000 and Worthington spent $27,000 during the campaign process.
“This hasn’t been an easy campaign,” Arreguin said. “But, through grassroots support, people throughout the city have come together to support Kriss. He definitely deserves to get re-elected.”
Worthington’s Campaign Treasurer Nancy Carleton attributed the tight race to Beier’s campaign spending.
“It’s been a far closer race than it should have been, mostly because of a candidate trying to buy the campaign,” Carleton said.
Beier’s supporters, who gathered at City Council member Gordon Wozniak’s home Tuesday evening, said Beier outspent Worthington in order to stand a chance as a challenger in this race.
“If you want to win, you’ve got to spend more money,” Wozniak said.
Wozniak described the Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper’s support of Worthington as “free endorsements.”
“I don’t have a local newspaper in my pocket,” Beier said. “It’s hard to get your message out otherwise,” he said.
Beier appreciated financial support from Berkeley residents and the local Chamber of Commerce, which put $18,000 towards his campaign.
Beier said the Chamber’s support for his campaign shows how much small business owners in Berkeley are in need of a new leader. “Out of the 410 businesses in the Chamber, 403 have three employees or less,” he said. “A lot of people are looking at me to turn Telegraph around.”
Worthington, who also supports the Telegraph Avenue revitalization effort, said he plans to continue supporting local businesses. “I got a late start on campaigning because I spent so much time fighting to get resources back on Telegraph,” he said. “This is time I would have normally spent on campaigning.”