Council candidate profiles for Nov. 2 election
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
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
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
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
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."
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
"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
Letitia has been endorsed by Congressman George Miller.
Letitia can be contacted by email email@example.com, 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
Pat & Brad Caftel
Bill & Betty Commerford
Dr. Phil Edington
Lucille & Frank Granucci
Alexis Strauss Hacker
George L. Livingston
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