Friedman, Brusatori, Moore elected to City Council
From left, Letitia Moore, Gina Brusatori, and Mark Friedman
By Jennifer Kho
Incumbents Mark Friedman and Gina Brusatori and Planning Commissioner Letitia Moore were elected to the City Council Nov. 6
Brusatori was the top vote getter with 3,391 votes, or 29.3 percent, followed by Friedman with 3,317 votes, or 28.7 percent. Moore received 3,064 votes, or 26.5 percent of the vote. Economic Development Board member Tony Wise received 1,796 votes, or 15.5 percent.
Voter turnout was 33.6 percent. More than a third of the votes cast were done by absentee ballots.
The county election department’s web site, which usually provides constant updates on the ballot counts, was not working early in the evening, with results only available by phone. The website was operating later in the evening.
“I’m encouraged by these early results and think they will definitely hold up,” said Friedman after absentee ballot returns came in. Friedman spent the evening at Moore’s house with between 30 and 40 other people “standing around talking about politics.”
“I’m very excited, very pleased,” Moore said, adding that she was eating and drinking juice and wine with other people at her house.
Brusatori was not immediately available for comment. (Her phone was busy for more than half an hour.)
Councilwoman Janet Abelson said this election has been “really low key,” with not many hot issues, but the candidates did discuss economic development and low-income housing during their campaigns.
All the candidates said economic development would continue to be a City Council priority, if they are elected.
But they disagreed about how much more low-income housing should be built in El Cerrito.
Friedman and Moore said they think El Cerrito should do as much as it can to construct low-income housing, even if it exceeds the state housing minimums, because there still isn’t enough in the Bay Area as a whole.
“It’s an important issue,” said Friedman, who also supported Moore and Brusatori. Friedman had said if he and Moore were elected, the council would have “critical mass to create some transit-village-type projects.”
Wise is against increasing low-income housing beyond the state requirement. He said he thinks the city needs to concentrate on adding businesses—not houses—and improving the schools.
But voters interviewed said they didn’t vote based on the low-income housing issue. Elmer Jensen, who voted at St. Jerome Church, said he voted for the incumbents because they are “the ones in practice.” Jensen said he also voted for Wise because he thinks Wise, owner of Granter Jewelry & Loan Co., is the best candidate for businesses.
“I picked him strictly because of his business, because business is important in El Cerrito,” he said.
Virginia Creed, who voted at Harding Elementary, said she voted for the incumbents, because “it takes more than a term for them to really get in there” and “I want to see things go smoothly again.” Creed said she also voted for Moore, “even though she’s an environmentalist and I’m not for environmentalists, because I read and heard a lot about her.”
Vena Flint, who voted at Mira Vista United Church of Christ, said she voted for Moore because she thinks Moore will bring more cooperation to the council than Wise, while Gloria Young, who voted at Harding Elementary School, said she picked Wise for no particular reason except his name.
With only the City Council election on the ballot, several voters complained that they thought the city was wasting tax money by having an election at all.
“As a paying taxpayer, you think, why did we have an election for three City Council members when we could have combined it with the general election in March?” said Florence Brown, a clerk and one of the first voters of the day at Mira Vista United Church of Christ. “Then we would have gotten more people. And it costs money to do this because they’re paying us and they’re paying for the places. But who listens?"
Wire editor Betty Buginas contributed to this report
Run dates: 2001-11-06 - 2001-11-06