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Council candidate profiles for Nov. 2 election


Janet Abelson

Abelson's comments on the Plaza

Longtime El Cerrito resident Janet Abelson has filed to run for City Council in the November election.

Janet is the mother of five children, the youngest of whom attends Harding Elementary; the other four are graduates of El Cerrito public schools.

Wife of former Mayor and Councilmember Howard Abelson, Janet is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she earned a masters of business administration (MBA). She then worked as a systems analyst at UC Berkeley.

Janet has been active in community affairs for many years. As Chair of the El Cerrito Earth Day Celebration, she coordinates the efforts of over 300 volunteers in this wonderful annual civic event. According to Janet, "the efforts of citizen volunteers in beautifying our city exemplifies the spirit that makes El Cerrito a special community."

For many years, Janet has volunteered with the local public schools and has helped organize numerous school events. She served as president of the PTA at both Harding Elementary and Portola Middle Schools, and as an officer on the El Cerrito High School PTSA.

As a City Planning Commissioner, Janet approved plans to revive El Cerrito Plaza. Abelson stated "I am proud to have taken an active role in securing the approval by the Planning Commission of plans for the renovation of El Cerrito Plaza. The Plaza has been deteriorating for years and now we have finally turned the corner to making the Plaza an attractive place for El Cerrito residents to shop. New stores will contribute badly needed sales tax dollars which will help maintain vital city services."

Janet is a nationally recognized expert on transportation and traffic management issues. The National Academy of Sciences selected Janet to serve, along with other transportation leaders, on several research oversight committees. She also serves on many regional and local transportation committees. The California Transportation Foundation honored her as Citizen of the Year in 1998 for her significant contributions to improving transportation in California. Her work on Bay Area transportation issues earned her the Doris W. Kahn Accessible Transportation Award in 1997 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Janet believes that, as a city council member, her extensive background in transportation issues will bring insight in helping to address the city's traffic congestion problems. As she says "the City Council needs to take an active role in working cooperatively with Richmond and Caltrans to solve these problems, especially in the Central Avenue and Del Norte areas."

Some of Janet's other priorities, if elected, include restoring El Cerrito parks and recreation facilities, maintaining our streets and sidewalks in good repair, ensuring the continuation of high quality police and fire protection, and expanding the economic vitality of our community.

In her run for a City Council seat, Abelson has secured the early endorsement of, among others, Congressman George Miller, County Supervisor John Gioia, former El Cerrito Mayors Bob Bacon and Marge Collins, and AC Transit Director Miriam Hawley.

She can be reached at Abeljanet@aol.com, voice 510-525-7709, fax 510-527-2071, pager 510-970-6400.

Ableson's comments on the Plaza

When my El Cerrito neighborhood gathered for a National Night Out potluck, we eagerly devoured tidbits of news about the Plaza along with our meal. Some of my neighbors were surprised to learn how much progress has been made. New tenants have been signed, new buildings are being designed, current tenants are relocating within the Plaza, and the farmers market is thriving in its new location. I look forward to the grand opening and to a much-needed infusion of sales tax dollars to the city.

As a long-time resident and Plaza shopper, I was both saddened and motivated by its decline. I took part in Plaza discussions and public forums for several years. Recently, as a City Planning Commissioner, I had the opportunity to help move the project forward. The Commission approved the project at its first meeting, but not until we required new sidewalks and streets within the Plaza that will make it easier to get to BART, the Ohlone Greenway, and connecting streets.

Other positive features of the renovation include the undergrounding of utilities, the opening-up of the creek near the Greenway, and the small shops along Fairmount, which will give the area a more "main street" feel. The Design Review Board worked especially hard to make the buildings more architecturally pleasing. I am also pleased that our current merchants will be joined by a mix of businesses and restaurants selling a variety of goods and services. I look forward to shopping and spending time at the renovated Plaza.

All of this was accomplished without public subsidy, unlike the original plan for a monstrously sized WalMart or the revised plan for a low-end, cookie-cutter strip mall. Similarly, the department store plan would have required a large public subsidy. Unfortunately, the department store owners would not invest in El Cerrito without a large government handout. The community was wise to say no.

Instead, the Plaza owners and the new businesses invested millions of their own dollars to revitalize the Plaza. Because we insisted on a fiscally sound plan with an appropriate design and mix of stores, the Plaza will be a much better place than it would otherwise have been.

I am committed to continuing the positive effort to improve the Plaza and the surrounding area, as work begins on the Phase II plans, the south side of the Plaza. There is a tremendous opportunity to work with BART and the other property owners along Fairmount Avenue to attract additional retail stores that can serve more of our shopping needs.

Kathleen Perka

Kathleen Perka, a long-time resident who sparked a promising campaign to attract a major department store here, filed papers Aug. 6 to run for a seat on the City Council in the November election.

Perka gained recognition as a community leader last year when-despite considerable skepticism--she led a campaign aimed at luring Gottschalks to open a store in El Cerrito. The chain has expressed interest in the concept.

"The fight to bring a quality department store here is far from over," Perka said. "If there is a way to do it, I intend to continue the effort if elected to the council."

However, Perka emphasized that she is not a one-issue candidate. The store campaign, as well as her service on city groups, "prove I'm capable of listening to the public, as well as thinking and acting creatively in helping citizens of this community get what they want and need." "With the continued support from the community I'll be elected." she went on. "I intend to put the desires of the people first, while being fiscally responsible at the same time."

Born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Perka is a 21 year resident of El Cerrito.

A graduate of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, before coming to California she worked in Washington, D.C. as a Legislative Assistant/Caseworker for several Members of Congress. Moving to the Bay Area in 1978, she started a 13-year retail career which saw her rise to the post of buyer for 22 Emporium stores in Northern California after serving as assistant store manager of the firm's branch in El Cerrito.

Active on the local civic scene, Perka has served as a member of the Neighbor to Neighbor Task Force, the Services for the 21st Century Committee and that group's Financial Review Team. Most recently she has served as a member of the City's Process Team, a group responsible for facilitating the community's participation in the development of a revised General Plan for El Cerrito.

"My experience in business management," the candidate declared, "should prove helpful in providing the fiscally responsible leadership this city so desperately needs. My civic efforts demonstrate my commitment to open and accountable government and sound planning designed to meet the city's serious service and infrastructure needs."

Letitia Moore


The first candidate to file her candidacy papers, Letitia Moore, is an El Cerrito Planning Commissioner and an environmental attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Letitia filed on July 16, 1999.

A member of the Planning Commission since 1997, Letitia moved to El Cerrito in 1996 to set up house with her 84 year old grandmother. "I was raised by my grandmother, she took care of me after my mother died -- she was in her 50s and I was six. Even as a teenager, I was aware that our seniors need special consideration. Living with her again as an adult has brought home for me how contemporary society often fails to consider the needs of the elderly. It has also reinforced my belief that people with different life experiences, even of different generations, can benefit greatly from interacting with each other."

Letitia received her bachelor’s degree from Yale and her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley. She has worked for over 10 years at EPA. "Through my work in the community, I recognize that El Cerrito needs leaders who will consider the interests of every resident in making decisions for our City." Letitia first worked on local planning and development issues in college for the City of New Haven. She has also worked with the City of Los Angeles, on administration of a summer jobs program for youths.

As a member of the El Cerrito Planning Commission, Letitia recently worked to complete the update of El Cerrito’s 1975 General Plan. "I believe that we’ve made that planning document a more useful tool for protecting neighborhoods, rehabilitating commercial districts, and cataloging and conserving our open spaces. With construction and renovation activities starting soon at the Plaza, hopefully we will also start to see more evidence of the strong California economy here in El Cerrito." The Planning Commission approved the proposed El Cerrito Plaza Revitalization Project in June. In addition to the Planning Commission, Letitia currently serves on the Idaho Apartments Neighborhood Advisory Group. She also served on the Del Norte Area Planning Process Task Force and the General Plan Update Process Team.

"El Cerrito needs to redefine its image. We need to better promote our assets so that we can successfully compete for public and private investment, both business and personal. I want El Cerrito to be recognized for the Bay Area jewel that it is. That recognition can help us upgrade our commercial areas, retain our local merchants, attract developers with vision, and attract people who will make a commitment to this community. Attracting new investment and enticing residents to themselves invest in El Cerrito will lead to a better El Cerrito."

Letitia has been endorsed by Congressman George Miller.

Letitia can be contacted by email lemoore@flash.net, phone (510) 558-1218 and fax (510) 338-3258.


Letitia Moore has a broad base of support that demonstrates she can build the partnerships necessary to promote investment in El Cerrito. She has the support of the professionals who serve El Cerrito, business and community leaders, and elected officials.

U.S. Congressman George Miller

State Senator Don Perata

Assembly Member Dion Aroner

John Gioia, County Supervisor

Glen Price, School Board Trustee

Jean Siri, East Bay Regional Parks Director

Miriam Hawley, AC Transit Director

Norman LaForce, El Cerrito City Council Member

Mark Friedman, El Cerrito City Council Member

Jane Bartke, El Cerrito City Council Member

El Cerrito Professional Firefighters Association

Service Employees (SEIU) Local 790

West County Business & Professional Association

Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter

East Bay League of Conservation Voters

National Organization of Women (NOW), Contra Costa Chapter

National Womens Political Caucus (NWPC) of Contra Costa County

Partial List of friends and neighbors who support Letitia Moore for El Cerrito City Council:

Janet & Howard Abelson

Joan Bartulovich

Jean Brown

Pat & Brad Caftel

Bill & Betty Commerford

Lori Dair

Lillian Daniels

Barbara Davis

Marta Dragos

Dr. Phil Edington

Denise Fleig

Dan Freudenthal

Gina Gallegos

Rosemary Goode

Lucille & Frank Granucci

Carl Groch

Alexis Strauss Hacker

Gertrude Hall

Jennifer Hernandez

Chizu Iiyama

Norma Jellison

Christine Karim

Cathie Kosel

Rose Lernberg

Chuck Lewis

George L. Livingston

Phil Martien

Lesa McIntosh

Kathleen McKinley

Rita Minjares

Marie Pike

Sandia Potter

Steve Price

Julie Rogers

Clark Sanford

Art Schroeder

Will Siri

Joann Steck-Bayat

Willa Sudduth

Miyako Tanaka

Lauren Volpini

Mingli Wang

Lucy Wilson

Susan Wittenberg

Beatrice O'Keefe

Beatrice O'Keefe filed candidate papers for the El Cerrito City Council on Aug. 11.

O'Keefe, a Clinical Laboratory Scientist with the California Department of Health Services, has been active in community affairs for many years. She has lived in El Cerrito since 1977 and has served as an elected director on the Stege Sanitary District Board for twelve years, currently as President. She also served on El Cerrito's Project Listen, the Residential Architectural Development Committee, the Del Norte Planning Process and the Committee of the Whole and has been active in the preservation of Baxter Creek.

O'Keefe, a mother with one son, also finds time to serve as the President of the Golden State Lily Society and plays tympani with the Albany Community Orchestra.

O'Keefe obtained her B.S. degree from U.C. Berkeley and an MBA in Finance from Golden State University.

Run dates: 1999-09-01 - 1999-11-07

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