Pro-tenant rent board slate chosen at Tenant Convention

Igor Tregub, one of the four candidates chosen to run for the four city Rent Stabilization Board commissioner positions up for election this year, speaks during the 2012 Berkeley Tenants Convention on Sunday.
Michael Ball/Staff
Igor Tregub, one of the four candidates chosen to run for the four city Rent Stabilization Board commissioner positions up for election this year, speaks during the 2012 Berkeley Tenants Convention on Sunday.

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Berkeley residents gathered Sunday to elect a progressive pro-tenant rent board slate to run in the November local election.

More than 100 people came to the Berkeley Tenant Convention, where ultimately four candidates — incumbents Asa Dodsworth, Igor Tregub, Judy Shelton and UC Berkeley graduate Alejandro Soto-Vigil — were chosen to run for the four city Rent Stabilization Board commissioner positions up for election this year.

A total of seven candidates ran for the slate, including campus graduate John Nguyen, Mills College graduate student Audra Caravas and City Planning Commissioner Patti Dacey.

Convention attendees discussed issues that will be part of the slate’s platform, such as seismic safety, fire prevention and affordable housing for tenants.
Members of the slate also spoke about how they would help students in the community.

Campus alumnus Tregub said as a board commissioner, he would continue to work to protect tenants by ensuring seismically safe and fire-preventive infrastructure in the Berkeley community.

Dodsworth said he plans to encourage more outreach to students through Facebook to make them aware of their rights as tenants in cases like the withholding of security deposits by landlords of soft-story buildings.

Tregub also said that he would work to make it mandatory for landlords to give voter registration forms to their tenants, granting many of Berkeley’s student residents the ability to have a voice in local politics.

“I would like to make it mandatory to provide a voter registration form to a tenant,” Tregub said. “This would increase local power in Berkeley and make it easier for new Berkeley residents and the student community, who moves around quite a bit, to continue to have a voice.”

Soto-Vigil said he will add diversity to the Board and remain dedicated to Berkeley tenant protection and needs if elected.

“I think the reason I worked intensely with (Councilmember) Kriss Worthington for three and a half years was because he was always involved with protecting tenants,” Soto-Vigil said. “I was passionate about it in law school with the work I was doing in (Washington D.C.) … If someone needs help moving, I will wake up and do it.”

Many Berkeley residents also came to the convention to support a particular candidate and posed questions to each candidate to hear what the candidate had to say before voting for the board commissioners.

Cal Democrats president and Berkeley resident Daniel Tuchler attended the convention and said going to such events was a good way for students to gain experience in local politics. Tuchler also said an issue that concerned him as a student resident and Cal Democrats member was fire safety.

“The fire on Dwight (Way) affected two of our members,” Tuchler said. “There were no smoke detectors, no alarms. There could have been more prevention.”

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  • Igor Tregub

    To whomever is reading this,
    While I might be unable to do much about my favorite blue shirt in the near-term (aside from ending the weight loss incurred from being on the trail), I certainly appreciate the feedback I have received here, however anonymous were the sources, and can do something about my policy proposals. I will explore the feasibility of having the City of Berkeley or the Rent Board deliver a voter registration form to new tenants (the Rent Board already sends a move-in packet to new tenants when it finds out about a new tenancy through landlord registration records). This could be a good way to ensure that the barrier to registering to vote at the new location is eased while not making the process overly burdensome on landlords. Contrary to the opinions of some posters here, I am less interested in those tenants who would not be likely to vote anyway than I am in aiding those tenants who actually would like to participate in our civic process but are hampered by a lack of mobility, time, or resources they need to re-register to vote. This could assist students – who move frequently – but also be of aid to our senior citizens and tenants with disabilities, many of whom are long-term residents of Berkeley. Thank you for providing me with valuable feedback through this forum, and please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] should you have additional constructive suggestions.

  • WTF

    Why are positions like this decided by a tiny clutch of 100 people?
    Shouldn’t this be on the ballot for everyone to vote on?

  • Guest

    should landlords also be required to hold their tenants’ wee-wee while they urinate ?


    It should be mandatory that any elected official be able to dress themselves like an adult. Jesus, Igor- your shirt is at least two sizes too large.

    • Igor Tregub

      I will update my wardrobe. Thanks JJMC. :)

  • Calipenguin

    California already follows the federal “motor voter” law. Everyone that updates or applies for an ID with the DMV should get a voter registration form. I assume every landlord in Berkeley asks for tenants’ ID (unless they are harboring illegal aliens). Thus isn’t this new requirement redundant? Progressive politicians from Berkeley and San Francisco remind me of little gnats looking for ways to out-liberal fellow liberals and “fix” what isn’t broken just to make a name for themselves.

    • Igor Tregub

      I am a firm believer in the need for legislation only when there is a concrete problem requiring it. I am very interested in studying the adquacy of the “motor voter” law and how it applies on the ground. My understanding is that because many students move far more often than they go to the DMV to update their records, this could help. However, I am still studying this and certainly open to any constructive suggestions. Thank you for your input, Calipenguin.

      • Current student

        And the truth comes out. The whole thing is a ploy to increase the proportion of student voters, who generally intend to leave Berkeley after graduation and therefore are more inclined to vote for tax increases, at the expense of longterm residents, who will still be here to pay for the tax hikes.

        Just another nefarious leftwing scheme to force through more tax increases. Makes me sick.

        • Igor Tregub

          I think my response at the top of the comment box should allay your concern that this is strictly intended to increase the proportion of student voters.

  • Anonymous

    Unfair. The process was unfair.

    • anonymouse

      Please explain in what way?

      • Anonymous

        Why did this take place during the summer when many students returned home? Say what you like, but students are part of the Berkeley community? How many candidates really brought students there?

  • Current student

    Ridiculous, Igor. If people don’t care enough to take the initiative to register themselves, then they shouldn’t be voting.

    There is such a thing as too much democracy.

    • Igor Tregub

      What about those with limited mobility due to age or disability? If someone doesn’t fill out the voter form, that’s on them; the goal is simply to provide the opportunity for any Berkeley resident to register upon move-in. Again, I am looking at a pilot with sympathetic landlords to explore feasibility. We will be able to track whether this tool is effective. If it’s not, we can scuttle the effort. I think it is worth exploring, however.

  • Igor Tregub

    I have heard of this type of legislation being worked on in Florida and Massachusetts, and thought it would be a great idea to do here. The responsibility of the landlords would end at handing tenants the form. The form would be provided to them by the registrar, and it would be the tenant’s responsibility to turn it in. Obviously, some potential kinks still need to be worked out as with any new legislation, and I would be very interested in working with a subset of the landlord community on a pilot to see how this would work. If a tenant has low mobility, works full-time, or simply is not near a place where he or she can pick up a voter registration form – as is the case with many sectors of our population – this type of policy would be very beneficial – for the entire city. Igor

  • I_h8_disqus

    Make it mandatory to hand out registration forms? If tenants can’t even find their own registration forms, then maybe we should make the landlords stand over and review the tenants as they fill out the forms, and then make the tenants a lunch to take with them to the polls. Maybe it is time to treat voters like adults. Do we really want someone voting who can’t even get their own registration form? If they can’t even do that, they you know they won’t take the time to research their vote, and they will just randomly fill in boxes on the ballot.