An LGBT political group voted to back two candidates running for Berkeley City Council on Wednesday evening in the midst of endorsement season before the November general election.
The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club gave early endorsements to Kriss Worthington for District 7 and Lori Droste for District 8. The club is a volunteer nonprofit that promotes progressive values and political equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the Democratic Party. One of its main objectives is to support LGBT candidates running for office.
“The benefit of the endorsement is that it gives candidates a leg up early in the process when the more endorsements you have, the better,” said Joe Greaves, chair of the club’s political affairs committee.
The club opens up possibilities for grassroots and financial support, Greaves said.
George Beier, who is running against Droste for the District 8 seat, did not receive the club’s early endorsement. Droste and Beier are also competing with Jacquelyn McCormick and Mike Alvarez-Cohen for the seat.
Beier said his platform includes securing affordable housing for residents, improving public safety in the city and campus, renovating Telegraph Avenue and addressing employment issues. Beier said he is also a voice for the HIV-positive community.
“You can live a healthy, productive, exciting life, but it’s like coming out of the closet all over again,” Beier said. “People who are positive just disappear and lose confidence and hope.”
If elected, Droste would be the first open lesbian to sit on the City Council. Droste said she is committed to improving UC Berkeley’s sexual assault prevention policies, providing affordable housing for residents and increasing economic vitality.
“Housing is becoming really expensive in Berkeley,” Droste said. “We need to embrace development and realize that students and young families are not going away.”
Worthington, whose only opponent thus far is UC Berkeley alumnus Sean Barry, said he is proud of his district’s enthusiastic response to his re-election campaign. Students, he said, are vital to his campaign success, and he regularly employs them as interns in his office.
Worthington cited his orchestration of LGBT sensitivity training for officers of Berkeley Police Department to demonstrate his commitment to harm reduction in the community. He also stressed the need for a specific queer youth homeless shelter with a staff that is properly trained to meet their needs.
“Innovative policies about communities come from people who are from that community,” Worthington said of the importance of LGBT representatives in office.