Tom Bates (born February 9, 1938) is a California politician, currently serving as the Mayor of Berkeley, California.
He is married to Loni Hancock, a former mayor of Berkeley who currently represents the 14th District in the California State Assembly. Bates is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. While at Cal, he played on the Golden Bears 1959 Rose Bowl team. After college, Bates served in Germany as a Captain in the United States Army Reserves and later worked in real estate.
He previously served in the California State Assembly representing the 14th District (the East Bay Area) from 1976 to 1996. During those 20 years, Bates was known as one of the legislature's most liberal members. Under Republican governors, Bates authored over 220 bills that became law, including the creation of the East Bay Shoreline State Park, a number of progressive social policy laws, the founding of the first Community Bank in the Bay Area, and the first legislation in the country allowing "brew pubs" - establishments that brew their own beer for sales on and off the premises and are typically combined with a restaurant.
After retiring from the Assembly in 1996, Bates taught at the University of California, Berkeley and worked to ensure healthier foods in the Oakland and Berkeley school districts. In 2002, Bates was drafted out of retirement to challenge the two-term incumbent Mayor of Berkeley, Shirley Dean. He won the race with 55% of the vote.
Mayor Bates' priorities include: expanding youth and education services, creating stronger environment policies, improving relations with the University of California, Berkeley campus, building more housing in the downtown, and restoring civility to Berkeley, California government.
In November 2006, Mayor Bates won re-election in a landslide, defeating former City Planning Commissioner Zelda Bronstein 63% to 31% -- the largest margin of victory in a Berkeley mayor's race since 1967. (Native American and community activist Zachary RunningWolf and Christian Pecaut won 5% and 1%, respectively.)