Cal Berkeley Democrats endorse Jesse Arreguin for Berkeley mayor

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At a Thursday meeting, Cal Berkeley Democrats unanimously endorsed Jesse Arreguin for Berkeley mayor and endorsed both Nancy Skinner and Sandré Swanson for the District 9 state Senate seat, among other candidates in local and state elections this year.

At the organization’s third general meeting of this semester, local and state candidates — including those running for Berkeley mayor as well as seats in Berkeley City Council and the state Senate — and their proxies packed into a room to vie for the student organization’s support. After their statements, the candidates were asked to leave so the students could deliberate.

Ben Gould, a UC Berkeley dual-degree graduate student in public policy and environmental engineering, was the only mayoral candidate aside from Arreguin who attended the meeting.

“I am all for student representation, but I want someone who’s the mayor of Berkeley who has the experience necessary to run our city, and I don’t think Ben Gould has that experience,” said Soli Alpert, a campus sophomore and Cal Berkeley Democrats member, at the meeting.

Cal Berkeley Democrats endorsed Arreguin when he ran for City Council in 2008 to become the first Latino council member and the youngest person on the council. Arreguin was also recently endorsed by Bernie Sanders.

The decision to dual-endorse Nancy Skinner and Sandré Swanson for state Senate District 9 — which includes Berkeley and is currently represented by state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) — arose after general agreement that either candidate would be beneficial for the area.

“I think (the dual endorsement is) good,” said Caiden Nason, vice president of membership for Cal Berkeley Democrats. “It’s going to be interesting to see if either of them tries to use it electorally, but it’s good for (Cal Berkeley Democrats) politically.”

Skinner said during the meeting that she would focus on reinvesting in public education and putting “justice back in the criminal justice system.” Swanson, who has been endorsed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), spoke of moving toward tuition-free college and his past experience leading state efforts to protect young people from human traffickers.

In addition, the student organization unanimously endorsed a slate of four candidates for the four empty seats on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. Community members selected the slate — which includes current Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner Alejandro Soto-Vigil, tenant advocate Christina Murphy, Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission vice chair Igor Tregub and tenant attorney Leah Simon-Weisberg — in April to serve in favor of Berkeley tenants.

“What our job will be is to advocate for the people that are underserved and always get stepped on,” Murphy said during the meeting.

Cal Berkeley Democrats also voted on a dual endorsement of Nanci Armstrong-Temple and Cheryl Davila, ranked in that order, for the District 2 City Council member seat. Both candidates spoke of demilitarizing the police and increasing the amount of affordable housing.

The students endorsed Ben Bartlett for the District 3 City Council member seat, though he was unable to attend the event. In addition, Cal Berkeley Democrats unanimously endorsed Sophie Hahn for the District 5 City Council member seat.

“For students to be able to learn, they have to be safe,” Hahn said during the meeting. “Safe from rape and harassment, and safe when they report abuse to the university.”

For the District 6 City Council member seat, the students endorsed Susan Wengraf, the incumbent, based on her experience.

Endorsements such as these “can have a lot of sway,” said Harshil Bansal, campus sophomore and political director of Cal Berkeley Democrats, adding that they’re especially important because UC Berkeley students comprise nearly a third of the city’s population.

The general election will be held Nov. 8.

Contact Aleah Jennings-Newhouse at [email protected].

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  • rose jennings newhouse

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this, there’s so much political dysfunction going on at this time, nice to have clear clean description of where Cal Dems stand.

  • ShadrachSmith

    So, is he a Communist?

  • justiceplease

    The Wengraf endorsement is a shock, and I can only presume this was a default choice that stemmed from lack of knowledge of past candidate voting records.

    Wengraf has led the charge to REWARD a scofflaw landlord who illegally evicted student tenants from 18 rent-contolled units and deliberately demolished the building in order to build a more profitable market rate building. The rent-controlled units need to be replaced 1 for 1, and a fitting city response should be to insist the landlord build a 100% affordable housing project that includes very low income units and/or Section 8 voucher units. However, Wengraf has advocated to just let the landlord get away with his criminal behavior and reward him with a permit to build market rate housing with a few affordable units (affordable being defined as 80% area median incom,e, I.e unaffordable for students and people making minimum wage,), with no obligation to replace the rent controlled units.

    Wengraf wanted to reallocate the small sliver of City budget used for community services that serve the poor to hiring 4 new policemen. The police department should be funded through the City Manager’s budget, supplemented by State and Federal funds. Wengraf did this because she thought the Police Union endorsement was more important than what poor people think of her. She generally represents the interests of wealthy residents of North Berkeley.

    Even though the citizen’s of Berkeley voted overwhelmingly against Sit-lie laws that criminalize homelessness TWICE, Wengraf was part of a right-wing City Council cabal that pushed through an ordinance to override the citizen vote in favor of serving the interests of a few big developers in gentrifying and poor-cleansing downtown. Since this ordinance can’t be enforced until the City purchases storage lockers and makes an adequate number of public bathrooms available 24/7, the point of this ordinance was mainly to grandstand about cracking down on homeless people to position the Council conservatives for the November elections.

    Wengraf was the one caught letting developer lobbyists into Council chambers not open to the general public, and she is frequently seen chatting with Downtown Business Association director John Caner. Anyone who watches City Council meetings knows that John Caner runs a shadow government that provides backroom access for big developers. For instance, Caner sent emails about a Council meeting on the Minimum Wage being canceled due to “lack of quorum” in advance of the meeting, cueing the right-wing Council members, including Wengraf, not to show up. The meeting was rescheduled for the morning — I.e., when labor representatives couldn’t show up, and the meeting could instead be packed with business owners.

    Wengraf generally votes in favor of luxury developments that enrich big developers and International investors rather than addressing the housing crisis for people on fixed incomes. She does not push for larger portions of affordable housing or increasing the minimal in lieu fees. She has not raised the issue or voted for the return of the Transfer Tax to the Housing Trust Fund. She would prefer putting the Transfer Tax that was raised under the pretext of providing permanent funding for the Housing Trust Fund into fixing up parks. North Berkeley has more parks than South or West Berkeley, and the City Dept of Public Works should be taking care of them.

    Last year Wengraf voted for cutting over 100k (originally 250k before massive orotests) from South Berkeley community services, and then requested additional funds for the Animal Shelter. Dogs matter more than poor people!

    Cal students are generally progressive. If they even lightly peruse Wengraf’s voting record, they would regret their endorsement.