On Wednesday, the morning before Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin is to be sworn into office, he kicked off a campaign event for Kate Harrison, who is one of the three candidates running for his former District 4 City Council seat.
As about 20 of Harrison’s campaign staff and supporters stood in support of Harrison outside Old City Hall, Arreguin praised Harrison’s commitment to Berkeley and her experience in local government.
Arreguin said that during his campaign for mayor he had been thinking about community leaders who could potentially fill his seat. Harrison came to mind, and come September, he asked if she would run for the position.
Arreguin added that he also supports Harrison because they have a shared vision for Berkeley’s future.
“We want an equitable future for Berkeley,” Arreguin said. “We need people that are tested, that have experience and who will hit the ground running.”
While introducing her, Arreguin said that Harrison would bring “bold, progressive leadership” to City Council. He added that Harrison is “overqualified” for the council seat.
Harrison has a master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley and more than 20 years of experience in local and state government. In Berkeley government, Harrison has worked on the Parks Commission, the Waterfront Commission and the Housing Advisory Commission, as well as campaigning for Measure U1 this past election.
Gus Newport, who served as Berkeley’s mayor from 1979 to 1986, spoke at the press conference as well. Now an Oakland resident, Newport said that Harrison is a “pro at public policy.”
This sentiment is also shared by Harrison’s campaign treasurer Erin Diehm.
“I have gone to city meetings and heard Kate speak, and she really is about inclusion,” Diehm said. “She’s willing to fight.”
Candidate Brianna Rogers, who has been endorsed by District 7 City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, was also present at the event.
“My own personal desire and ego is not bigger than the bottom line that I have for the city of Berkeley,” Rogers said. “I am confident the seat will be in good hands.”
Rogers, who had announced two weeks ago that she would run for the council seat, said she is now considering whether to run.
“I’m here because … I want to see what Kate is all about,” Rogers said before the event. After hearing what Harrison had to say, she said “a deeper conversation needs to be had” about minority groups’ interests.
After losing the mayoral election, UC Berkeley graduate student Ben Gould is now running for the District 4 seat in an effort to represent the citizens of Berkeley.
Gould said the main area in which his views differ from Harrison’s is housing. Susan Wengraf, the council member for District 6 who has endorsed Gould, said she is only familiar with Harrison in the context of her opposition to a housing development.