Visionary Leadership and Experience
Tom Bates brings a lifetime of public service to the Mayor’s office – including four years as an Alameda County Supervisor, two decades as a member of the California legislature and nearly 14 years as Berkeley’s Mayor.
He has been honored on numerous occasions as an innovative champion of the environment and a tireless advocate of equal opportunities in education, housing and jobs.
Bates is both the youngest person ever to serve on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (1973-76) and the first to devote himself full-time to the position. He helped establish the 100-acre minimum to save agricultural land, pushed the County to give the highest percentage of Federal revenue-sharing funds in the nation to community organizations, including Asian Health Services, Asian Mental Health Program, Filipinos for Affirmative Action, Pacific Center and many others. And because poor dental health was the number one reason kids missed school, Bates also led a successful effort to put fluoride into the East Bay water system.
During his 20 years as a State Assembly Member (1976-1996), he authored 220 bills that were signed into law in several fields, including children and families, the environment, civil rights and transit villages. He enjoyed a 100 percent environmental voting record and served on two dozen committees, including 11 years as chair of the Human Services Committee. Bates passed the first legislation to allow home brewing in California, and the first legislation establishing brew pubs. He was also the catalyst for securing the funding and interagency agreements that led to one of the East Bay’s greatest nature preserves – the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
After retiring from the Assembly, Bates continued to serve the public. In addition to teaching at UC Berkeley, he volunteered to work with school officials and parents to provide healthier food choices for Berkeley students, including organic fruits and vegetables, and was instrumental in the adoption of healthier food policies for the Berkeley and Oakland School Districts.
Since becoming Mayor in 2002, Bates has worked to set aside old political divisions to better serve the City. A short list of Bates’ record includes establishing the David Brower Center, the Ed Roberts Campus, Berkeley City College and the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex. He initiated Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan (aimed at steep reductions in local greenhouse gas emissions) and the City’s green Downtown Plan (which includes meaningful environmental standards in new developments). He also played a leadership role in developing the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth (focused on eliminating health and education disparities), Project Build (now in its 12th year with after-school and summer tutoring for Berkeley school children) and “goBerkeley” (a successful parking management plan in commercial districts). He is now working on a new initiative, the Berkeley Promise, which seeks to remove economic barriers and guarantee a pathway to college for Berkeley youth.
Bates also has had a significant impact in his current roles on the governing boards of regional regulatory agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Quality Management District, where he paved the way for Bay Area Bike Share and sponsored the first regional carbon tax adopted in California.
Bates is a native Californian and a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley ('61). He was a starting right end on Cal’s 1959 Rose Bowl team, and after graduation, he served in West Germany as an officer in the U.S. Army, retiring as Captain in the Army Reserves in 1964.
He is married to former Berkeley Mayor and current California State Senator Loni Hancock. Their family includes four children, Casey, Jon, Mara, and Leita, and seven grandchildren.