Most mayors spend their time worrying only about their respective cities. "Can I increase city tax revenue and hire more cops if I can entice Target to come here instead of El Cerrito?" Or, "What tax breaks can I offer that new solar start-up to open up shop in my town, instead of Emeryville?" But Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates views his role from a wider perspective. Sure, he spends a lot of time trying to make Berkeley better, but as an environmentalist, he also sees his mission as promoting the growth of the urban East Bay while slowing suburban sprawl. And as a social justice activist, he often advocates for funding for urban transit that serves lower-income commuters, instead of transportation projects that benefit the wealthy. And to make a difference, he's become a leader on the boards of both the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. He may be the only mayor in the East Bay who fully realizes that for the area to remain vibrant in the future, he must think regionally and not parochially.
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