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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

Berkeley City CouncilCandidate for City Council, District 3

Photo of Deborah Matthews

Deborah Matthews

1,482 votes (20.8%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Housing for Everyone. We can make our neighborhood safer, stronger, and more vibrant — with low & middle income housing around the Adeline Corridor, more small businesses and shops , designated bike paths and good lighting and beautification
  • A Safer Berkeley. Crime continues to be a pressing concern for South Berkeley. Too many community members don’t feel safe in their own neighborhood. I support bringing back the beat cop, walking the streets. Police officers who walk a regular beat
  • Stop Violent Crimes Against Women. It’s unacceptable that women are being sexually assaulted on and near the U.C. campus. I will bring a strong voice for keeping our young women safe. We must address human trafficking-no child is ever a prostitute-



Profession:Educator, Real Estate Broker & Mother
Real Estate Broker, Our Land Realty & Funding (1991–current)
Commissioner, Vice Chair, City of Berkeley Planning Commission — Appointed position (2015–current)
Commissioner, Chair, City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board ( ZAB) — Appointed position (2000–2015)
Board of Directors, Downtown Berkeley YMCA — Appointed position (2000–2005)
Commissioner, Chair, City of Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission ( HAC ) — Appointed position (1998–2003)


California School of Real Estate California Department of Real Estate Brokers License, Real Estate Law, Real Estate Economics, Real Estate Finance,Real Estate Appraisal, Real Estate Principals & Sales (1991)
The Ohio State University Political Science & Business (1975)

Community Activities

Volunteer Chef- feeding thehomeless, Meals from My Kitchen preparing 30-50 meals for the homeless for the past 30 years- my greatest compliment " I can taste the love in this food" (1985–current)
Volunteer Chef-- Humanitarian student organization, The Suitcase Clinic is a humanitarian student organization and volunteer community offering free health and social services (2014–2014)
Educator, Event Presentation for young girls to empower & provide support, Girls Rock (2012–2012)


I am proud of my accomplishments, but nothing compares to raising my daughter. I’m pleased that she’s launched, independent, and thriving.

Following the Example of My Parents

My commitment to public service stems from my parents. I grew up in the small central-Ohio city of Newark (home of the Native American Great Circle Mound), where less than 1 percent of the population was African American. My father was a custodian and factory worker, and my mother, who was a maid for a wealthy family, almost single-handedly integrated the local YMCA pool. I loved to swim but could not apply for lessons at the Y because I was African American, but my mother approached the board of directors and asked for a meeting to address this issue. They met in our home — I remember serving coffee to the board members. Ultimately, I was enrolled, and later, as a teenager, I created my own free swim program helping children in my neighborhood overcome their fear of the water and taught them how to swim and safely enjoy the sport.

I learned that change doesn’t happen without public pressure, and through our love for something greater than ourselves.

After studying business and political science at Ohio State University, I settled in Berkeley. When my daughter was young and crime was becoming a larger problem in our community, I attended a neighborhood watch meeting. Some of my neighbors came up to me afterwards and said, “we appreciated what you said.” Later, I was approached by city officials and asked to be on the Housing Commission, where I served for six years and my peers elected me as chair.

I also chaired the Zoning Adjustment Board, and am currently vice chair of the Planning Commission.

Other boards I’ve served on include the Merritt College Advisory Board of Real Estate, the U.C. Berkeley Wesleyan House Board, the Downtown Berkeley YMCA Board, and the Oakland & The World Enterprises Board.

I brought to my commission and board work an ability to listen, to stay focused on solutions, and to welcome participation of people with different viewpoints. I will bring that civil, solution-focused approach to the city council.

Inspired by My Spiritual Practice

I was raised in the church and have a meaningful spiritual practice. I believe in God, in being as positive and giving as we possibly can. For me, that’s community service. Giving back to others.

I learned the ancient traditions from my community of elders — honor the ancestors, respect the elders, treat people with kindness, and know that you are deserving of all that is good. Learn to understand and know God for yourself.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Gloria Steinem, Social & Political Activist / Founder of Ms. Magazine
  • The Berkeley Democratic Club
  • The East Bay Times Publication

Organizations (5)

  • Evolve- Ca
  • East Bay Forward
  • The John George Democratic Club
  • The East Bay Times
  • The Berkeley Democratic Club

Elected Officials (7)

  • Shirley Issel, former Executive Director, Berkeley Unified School District
  • The Honorable Susan Wengraf, Berkeley City Council District 6
  • The Honorable Betty Olds, former Berkeley City Council District 6
  • The Honorable Darryl Moore, Berkeley City Council District 2
  • The Honorable Laurie Capetilli, Berkeley City Council Disrtrict 5
  • The Honorable Carole Kennerly, former Vice Mayor City of Berkeley, Council Member & Founder William B. Rumford Legacy
  • The Honorable Gordon Wozniak, former Berkeley City Council District 8

Individuals (55)

  • David Shiver, Principal BAE Urban Economics
  • George Perezvelez, Chair, Police Commission City of Berkeley
  • Tracy Davis, Real Estate Broker
  • Nwe Oo, Community Advocate for Burma Refugees
  • Paul Schwartz, Landmarks Commissioner for City of Berkeley
  • Denise Pinkston, Chair City of Berkeley Zoning Adjusting Board / Architect
  • Michael Alvarez Cohen, UC Berkeley Office of Technology Licensing Director
  • Kim Louis Marienthal, Real Estate Broker
  • Aaron Kaufer, Architect
  • Ifayiga Oba Irawo, Spiritual Leader
  • Arthur Matthews, My Father
  • George Williams, Commissioner, City of Berkeley, Design Review
  • Michael Tolbert, retired, City of Berkeley Staff
  • Faye Carol, Artist / Jazz Singer Songwriter
  • David Trachtenberg, Architect
  • Charleston Pierce, Model/Author
  • Teryl Simpson, family supporter
  • Charles Kahn, Architect
  • Cynthia Hearn Roy, UC Berkeley School of Business graduate and supporter
  • Rena Rickles, Attorney
  • Barbara Allen, retired Human Resources
  • Harry Pollack, President, Legal Advisor Save the League
  • Robert Allen, retired Architect
  • Greer Westerink, Zignal / C&P Media
  • Antoine Davis, UC Berkeley, Department of Economics
  • Jenny Wenk, former Board of Directors YMCA
  • Remi Omodele, Commissioner, Human Welfare and Community Action
  • Rabbi Emeritus Ferenc Raj, Temple Beth El
  • Matthew Lewis, Principal, MML LLC -Sustainable Energy Consultancy
  • Dmitri Belser, Executive Director Center for Accessible Technology
  • Dorothy Walker, Urban Planner
  • Teresa Clarke, Low Income & Affordable Housing Developer
  • Susie Medak, Foundation Director
  • Lateefah Simon, Foundation Director
  • Gay Plair Cobb, Chief Executive Officer Oakland Private Industry Council
  • Elisa Batista, Architect
  • Linda Gage Schacht, UC Berkeley Professor Journalism
  • Pastor Brian Hunter
  • Joe & Jean Elmore, Family Supporters
  • Kristine Carlson, author "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff"
  • Pastor Anthony Gilmore
  • Michael Vasquez, Electronic Technician, Bay Area Rapid Transist
  • Dana King, Sculptor, "William Byron Rumford Historic Legacy Project"
  • Allison Hatcher, Realtor
  • Peter Shelton, Attorney
  • Markos Moullitsas, Publisher and Founder of Daily Kos
  • Gina Moreland, Executive Director Foundation
  • Fredrika Newton, Foundation Director Margie Adam, Psychiatrist
  • Tuck Andress & Patti Cathcart (Jazz Duo Tuck & Patti)
  • Jerry Wiggins, Personnel Commissioner, Alameda Office of Education
  • Eigi Mengitsu, Co Owner, Lemat Ethiopian Restaurant
  • Gezahegn Mengitsu, Co Owner, Lemat Ethiopian Restaurant
  • Yvonne William, President ATU Local 192

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters—Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville (4)

If you are elected, what would you like to achieve during your term in office?
Answer from Deborah Matthews:

Build Housing Now-In the past several decades, we’ve seen striking transformation of many neighborhoods of Berkeley, but South Berkeley has not shared in that prosperity. We have an opportunity to build new housing stock & revitalize the Adeline Corridor, supporting economic prosperity for small businesses & creating new job opportunities for our local residents, but we must do so without displacing long term residents or threatening the diversity and cultural history of the community. 

Bring Back Cops On The Beat-Crime continues to be a pressing concern for South Berkeley. Too many community members don’t feel safe in their own neighborhood. Earlier this year, there were child abduction attempts near Malcolm X and Willard schools. In May 2016 there was a shooting less than a block from my home. There have been 2 murders & 5 shootings recently in South & West Berkeley .Many residents in the community feel criminal street gangs are responsible for a major part of this violence. Gang violence results in too many youth in our cities & communities left seriously wounded or dead. Crime prevention saves lives and increases safety where we live. We must establish goal is to help at-risk youth & to provide necessary services before youth turn to delinquency.

End Violent Crime Against Women- It’s unacceptable that women are being sexually assaulted on and near the U.C. campus. I will bring a strong voice for keeping our young women safe. It's not just the campus where we need to make improvements. In our district, in our city, we have unacceptable levels of domestic violence. When you look at mothers with children in abusive situations, there are not enough resources to meet the need. We need to address human trafficking issues as well. Young girls who have few options are being picked up and forced to perform sexual acts. (As Los Angeles County Judge Catherine Pratt said, “Let’s be perfectly clear. They are victims. There is simply no such thing as a child prostitute.”)


Address Homelessness with Compassion -I’m encouraged by the new approach in how cities are addressing homelessness, with a focus on providing housing first, instead of making the housing dependent on work training or getting treatment for mental health issues. Too often, homeless people have to “earn” their way into housing, a daunting task when it’s so hard to make progress on mental health or addiction or employment issues without stable housing. For 30 years, I have been feeding the homeless, from my own kitchen. I started doing it when my daughter was small. I do it three or four times a year, when I have the time and I feel the spirit leading me. I spend the entire day preparing a meal to feed 30 to 40 people, and then I take to a park where I know there are people who are hungry. I take special care that the meals taste good and have inviting presentation. The highest compliment I’ve ever received is when someone told me, “I can taste the love.

What do you consider the most important issue facing the city?
Answer from Deborah Matthews:

Housing- Low Income Housing/ Middle Income Housing/ Homeless Housing & Workforce Housing

Crime & Safety/ with emphasis Addressing The needs of Youth @ Risk & The formerly Incarcerated

Jobs & Training / Trade Certification for Sustainable Incomes/ Local Hire

Violent Crime Against Women/ From our College Campus to our Communities End Rape/ Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking 



How do you plan to balance the regional Planned Bay Area (ABAG/MTC) goals of Priority Development Areas (PDAs) with local needs of property owners, traffic/parking/congestion problems, and other local concerns?
Answer from Deborah Matthews:

This must continue to be an on-going discussion between local & regional governing- Providing housing on transit corridors provides one of our greatest  immediate solutions.

To be effective I believe urban needs to dig deeper than our current codes and ordinances and sometimes out dated data. We need to make certain we are making a positive difference in all people's lives. With Respect to our current process we must  address more closely our equitable socio-economic impacts based in solutions:

Can  our city and regional prosper more fairly embracing all members of our communities

How do we solve our affordable housing crisis- What is affordable & for whom?

How do we address our significant demographic and culture change now and in the future?


Should transportation reorient from cars to people?



Considering the disintegration of local infrastructure, how can the city upgrade to meet the current regulatory requirements for clean air and for clean water discharge into the Bay?
Answer from Deborah Matthews:

Declining funding at the state and federal levels have put the growing responsibility of infrastructure cost squarely in the lap of our local community. The highest success rates of addressing the issues have come through Public-private partnerships, the P3s. Where contractual arrangements between public agencies (state or local governments) and the private sector collaborate to provide infrastructure for the public. Both public and private partners Both public and private partners contribute financially and share in the risk and reward. We should continue to explore the opportunities that become available through effective partnerships and  agreements.

Videos (1)

— November 1, 2016 Sepe

Depicting Cutural History/ Alternative Fuel/ Sustainable Movement/ Community Pride/ Economic Vitality

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