An Independent Professional Businesswoman

My Commitment to Public Service

I am a mother, educator & realtor who has lived and worked in South and West Berkeley for 30 years.I am proud to have helped many first-time home buyers realize their dreams. I lecture on real estate at Merritt College.

My career has also included music and event production, documentary filmmaking, and photography. In the 1990s, I travelled to West Africa to work on the documentary film “Warrior Marks” to end the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. (I was the contributing photographer to the book version of Warrior Marks,)



Warrior Marks-Clip 1 from Kali Films on Vimeo.

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.

Being a Strong Voice for Women

I know how important it is to have someone represent women’s concerns and the needs of the often under served: low-income residents, seniors, children, and communities of color. That’s what motivates me to wade into the sometimes contentious work of city government. To be a voice for all who are under-represented. As we uplift community members in need, I also strongly believe it’s important to celebrate their successes whenever possible.

Paid for by Deborah Matthews 2016 for Berkeley City Council D-3 | FPPC ID # 1383330