Berkeley is a rapidly changing city that needs careful stewardship to retain its vibrancy and diverse population, both culturally and economically. My name is Mary Behm-Steinberg, and I have taken the disadvantages handed to me by a body with multiple disabilities and am turning them into the advantage of a unique way of looking at things, and an efficient, compassionate way of making them work for everyone. These same principles can be applied to all of our major challenges: housing, policing, environmental issues, infrastructure, and the arts. They work best when those programs are linked for maximum efficiency.
Listening and Not Ignoring Inconvenient Truths
Life with multiple disabilities seems in many ways like management of a city with complex needs. Living with multiple disabilities is tough, but what has been even tougher for me has been having doctors and expert practitioners of many kinds try to put me in a box, and fail to listen to me when I tell them that things they have suggested did not work.
Sadly, this has resulted in permanent damage to my body, but it has also instilled in me the certainty that listening to the people you serve is the first and most essential step to any kind of leadership position, be it in government or the non-profit world (where I also have experience). Me and many people in my support groups have long known things that the medical establishment hasn’t, because data outside of very narrow studies has been ignored for too long, and we compare notes and see that our experiences are not unique. The “we’re professionals and know best mindset literally almost killed me, more than once, so I don’t take inconvenient evidence for granted. Those narrow studies that me and many of my fellow patients criticized for years would eventually come to be opened up, and we would be vindicated, but it shouldn’t have to take that long. There should be clear, respectful dialog so that challenges and crises can be worked out in a way that serves and respects the community as a whole, not just those with the money and connections to make their voices heard the loudest.
This is why I want to hear from you, in your own voice, telling me what you want and need. I’m using this campaign as a platform for activism, and I will include different voices as my platform evolves (and it should evolve, as I hear from more and more people, as should the platform of any elected officials). I ask that you address differences of opinion in a respectful way and avoid personal attacks. I will do the same. Let’s use this as our starting point.
Creative Community Building
I have already been in discussions with both Igor Tregub and Margo Schueler, who are both also running for City Council in District 1. I have the utmost respect for both of them, and we have been talking about policy and bolstering each other where we agree, so that we can build on each other’s ideas for the best possible result for the community. I am excited to hear specifics on Igor’s proposals, which he promised to send me in the coming days, and both have pledged to participate in the Berkeley City Council Candidates’ Open Forum page I established on Facebook as soon as campaign infrastructure is totally set up and several important deadlines we as candidates must meet are done. I look forward to engaging further with them and candidates from other districts who have expressed an interest (Alfred Twu, Kate Harrison, and Aiden Hill) in the very near future. https://www.facebook.com/Berkeley-City-Council-Candidates-Open-Forum-1827632087545191/
The Disability Superpower and How It Influences My Platform
The other advantage that a person with multiple disabilities has is a keen sense of how to leverage every asset to maximum advantage, and how to make one action serve many purposes. I see so many places for that here, and so many ways to eliminate sources of friction simply by taking advantage of many avenues open to us we have not explored, and making every expenditure count. I will detail these on the following pages.