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Inventory of the Tom Bates Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • State Assembly, 1976-1996
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Tom Bates Papers
    Dates: 1938-1996
    Collection number: LP394
    Creator: Tom Bates, California Legislator
    Collection Size: 30 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Tom Bates was a Democratic California State Assembly Member from 1977-1996. The Tom Bates Papers consist of 30 cubic feet of records reflecting Bates's legislative activities during his 20-year Assembly career. This collection is particularly useful to researchers interested in social services and environmental issues in California during the 1980s and 1990s.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tom Bates Papers, LP394:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Tom Bates Papers following his final term in the State Legislature.


    Tom Bates was a Democratic California State Assembly Member from 1977-1996. From 1977-1992, Bates represented Assembly District 12. The district encompassed the northernmost portion of Alameda County and a slice of Contra Costa County. AD 12 included the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Concord, El Cerrito, Piedmont, and Pleasant Hill. Following redistricting in 1992, Tom Bates's district became Assembly District 14 and Bates now represented the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, San Pablo, and Tara Hill as well as parts of Richmond, Oakland, El Sobrante, and Kensington. Bates represented AD 14 until 1996 (Who's Who in the California Legislature).
    Tom Bates was born in San Diego, California in 1938 and moved to what would eventually become his assembly district in 1956 when he began attending University of California, Berkeley. Bates lettered in rugby and football at Berkeley and was a starting member of the Cal 1959 Rose Bowl team. Bates received a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric from Berkeley in 1961. He credits his first wife Carol Martin as the reason behind his interest in politics. He met Carol during college and they married during his junior year. Bates participated in ROTC during college and upon graduation was commissioned into the U.S. Army as an officer. Bates spent his Army service in Germany and, after being discharged, returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where he had a short career in real estate before jumping into politics (Bates Oral History).
    Bates began his political career managing college friend Ken Meade's campaign for Assemblyman for the 12th district. Meade won the seat in 1970 and Bates gained recognition for his involvement in the winning campaign. Following Meade's victory, Bates worked for a short time in campaign management and in legislators' offices but was soon encouraged to run as a candidate for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (Bates Oral History). Bates won his race for Supervisor as well as all of his subsequent campaigns. In 1976, after four years as Supervisor, Bates ran for the assembly seat in the 12th district, which was being vacated by Ken Meade. He won with 58 percent of the vote. Bates's winning percentage, after a small dip in 1978, continued to rise until he left office in 1996 (Who's Who in the California Legislature).
    Throughout his long career as a public servant, Tom Bates was well known for carrying progressive legislation and tackling new problems. Bates left a successful record for passing progressive legislation, especially considering the legislator from Berkeley was up against Republican governors for 15 of his 20 years in office. Even when his legislation did not pass, it left behind a solid foundation for future legislators or Bates himself to build upon.
    Bates also showed innovation in areas other than the bills he authored. Bates co-chaired the nation's first legislative body addressing the changing family. Bates used his legislative position as Assembly Human Services Committee chair to conduct roundtables on the feminization of poverty, addressing the serious problem of women falling into poverty before the issue had any national recognition. Bates used his influence as an assemblyman to seek solutions outside of the traditional legislative process. Bates brought together a collection of authoritative entities from across the East Bay to form the East Bay Public Safety Corridor. The members of this successful partnership share information in an effort to better combat crime, particularly gun violence and truancy, across jurisdictional lines.
    During his time as an assemblyman, Bates was recognized as a champion of social and environmental issues, receiving many awards and commendations from such organizations as the California Association of Rehabilitation Services, SUNRAE, California Association of Rehabilitation Agencies, the California Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. During his tenure as Assemblyman, Tom Bates was considered one of the most liberal members of the Assembly (California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks)).
    Tom Bates represented the East Bay in the Assembly for 20 years before being termed out due to Proposition 140 in 1996. Although Bates had not planned to run for re-election in 1996, he did fight the lifetime term limit clause arguing that it was too restrictive and violated both his constitutional rights and those of his constituents. The lawsuit was eventually defeated (Bates Oral History). Tom Bates retired from the legislature and is currently (2009) serving his third term as mayor of Berkeley. He is married to former Berkeley mayor and current state senator, Loni Hancock, representative for the Ninth Senate District. They have four children and seven grandchildren (Berkeley Mayoral Website).
    According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks) and the Assembly Final History, Bates served on the following committees:

    State Assembly, 1976-1996

    • Standing and Interim Committees
    • Aging, 1981-1982
    • Aging and Long Term Care, 1987-1988
    • Agriculture, 1995-1996
    • Consumer Protection, 1985-1986
    • Criminal Justice, 1981-1982
    • Criminal Law and Public Safety, 1983-1984
    • Education, 1995-1996
    • Elections, Reapportionment, and Constitutional Amendments, 1993-1994
    • Energy and Natural Resources, 1981-1982
    • Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, 1993-1994
    • Governmental Organization, 1989-1992
    • Health 1977-1982
    • Higher Education, 1991-1992
    • Housing and Community Development, 1979-1982
    • Human Services, 1983-1996
    • *Chair 1983-1994
    • Insurance, 1995-1996
    • Labor and Employment, 1985-1988
    • Natural Resources, 1983-1994
    • Public Employees and Retirement, 1979-1980
    • Public Safety, 1985-1986, 1989-1994
    • Resources, Land Use, and Energy, 1977-1980
    • *Vice Chair 1977-1978
    • Revenue and Taxation, 1989-1990
    • Transportation 1977-1978
    • Ways and Means, 1981-1984
    • Subcommittees
    • Air Quality, 1977-1978
    • Energy, 1977-1982
    • Health and Welfare, 1983-1984
    • Health Care Investigations, 1977-1978
    • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, 1977-1982
    • *Chair 1979-1982
    • Oversight of GAIN, 1985-1986
    • Public Lands, 1979-1980
    • Resources and Transportation, 1983-1984
    • Task Force on Mentally Disordered Sex Offenders, 1981-1982
    • Select Committees
    • Select Committee on Child Care, 1987-1988
    • Select Committee on Children and Youth Services, 1991-1992
    • Select Committee on Fire, Police, Emergency and Disaster Services, 1991-1994
    • Select Committee on Groundwater Contamination and Landfill Leakage, 1993-1994
    • Select Committee on Homelessness, 1989-1990
    • Select Committee on Defense Conversion, 1994-1996
    • Legislative Task Force
    • Joint Select Task Force on the Changing Family, 1987-1990
    • *Co-Chair 1987-1990
    • Joint Committees
    • Joint Task Force on Child Support, 1993-1994
    • Joint Committee on Oversight of GAIN Implementation, 1985-1990
    • Additional Committees, Commissions and Boards
    • Committee for National Health Insurance, 1979-1982
    • Steering Committee for the National Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policy, 1979-1984
    • Member, Board of Directors for the California Project, 1983-1987
    • High-Tech Caucus, 1988-1992

    Scope and Content

    The Tom Bates Papers consist of 30 cubic feet of records reflecting Bates's legislative activities during his 20-year Assembly career. Record series include Bill Files, 1977-1996; Hearing Files, 1989; Subject Files, 1952-1996; Chronological Correspondence, 1993-1996; News Clippings, 1986-1988; Photographs, 1938-1996; Human Services Subject Files, 1961-1994; Mental Health Subcommittee Subject Files, 1979-1982; and Mental Health Subcommittee Correspondence, 1979-1982.
    This collection is particularly useful to researchers interested in social services and environmental issues in California during the 1980s and 1990s. As a member of the Assembly Health Committee from 1977-1982, then chair and member of the Assembly Human Services committee from 1983-1996, Tom Bates spent his legislative career focused on helping traditionally disadvantaged groups such as children, the disabled, and the poor. Bates, throughout his 20-year legislative career, also served on committees dealing with environmental issues. He was particularly focused on issues dealing with protection and expansion of state parks, air quality and energy conservation through promotion of transportation alternatives, and water protection and distribution. Because of Bates's continued commitment to social services and environmental legislation throughout his career as an assemblyman, his collection provides a detailed and long-range view of policy changes in these areas and their effects on California during the 1980s and 1990s.

    Related Material at the California State Archives

    Assembly Human Services Committee Records
    Assembly Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Subcommittee Records

    Other Repositories

    Tom Bates's personal papers may be found at the Berkeley Historical Society, 1931 Center Street, Berkeley, California.

    Oral History

    Tom Bates, Oral History Interview, conducted 2000-2001 by Leah McGarrigle, Oral History Program, University of California, Berkeley for the State Government Oral History Program available at the California State Archives and some other repositories.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bates, Tom
    Mental health policy
    Environmental protection