Jeff Leiter leaves
Jeff Leiter leaves his unofficial mayoral campaign
Citing personal reasons, Berkeley business leader Jeffrey Shattuck Leiter announced last week he will sit out the city's nascent mayoral election. Though never officially in the race, Leiter, 50, was widely rumored to enter the race the with the blessings of outgoing mayor Loni Hancock
Hancock. But he neither endorsed any declared candidates nor named a successor and appeared to leave open the question of who will carry Hancock's agenda into the next race. Leiter made the announcement during a farewell party for departing city manager Mike Brown when mistakenly introduced as a candidate with Berkeley City Councilmembers Fred Collignon and Shirley Dean.
"I am definitely not running for mayor," he told the gathering of about 80 city officials. In a follow-up letter released this week, Leiter said that a recent stroke suffered by his longtime partner George Jang prompted him to put the personal above the political.
"It takes time, rest, physical therapy and support to fully recover. George is doing well. However, my immediate priorities have had to change," Leiter said.
Leiter, who heads Berkeley's "Main Street" downtown redevelopment program, delivered a speech at the conference, but returned to Berkeley early.
Jang, an avid runner, sustained partial paralysis, but Leiter said he should fully recover.' 'He can't run anymore, but he's walking every other day," he said.
Long touted has Hancock's successor, Leiter would have relied on his business ties coupled with his moderately progressive agenda for a citywide appeal. But with the bow, Leiter stopped short of endorsing either Dean or Collignon and instead mentioned some persons he viewed as promising. Berkeley political insiders speculated last week that Leiter might stay publicly mute, and work behind the scenes for the accelerating Collignon campaign.
But Leiter said such speculation was hurtful to his image as a business leader who works with wide ranging interests. "If I have to represent such a wide constituency, I can't be getting into those... political games," he said.
The November 1994 mayoral election is 18 months away, and attention now turns to whether Hancock will land a position with the Clinton administration and force an early election or finish out her present term. Hancock is angling for a post as regional director for the Heath and Human Services Department, and while her prospects remain unclear, speculation this week centered around who might continue her progressive agenda.
Former Councilmember Nancy Skinner has attracted much attention; but Leiter's announcement did not prompt her to make any announcement. "I haven't made any decision yet," she said. Leiter, however, did mention Councilmembers Carla Woodworth, Dona Spring and Linda Maio as interesting prospects. He singled out Maio for particular praise.
Contacted this week, the first term Maio said she needs more experience before considering a mayoral run. "I've just gotten my feet wet, and I'm still negotiating my way around here," Maio said.
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