Student life makes Berkeley what it is today. Many students choose UC Berkeley in part for the character and culture of this city that is like none other. Berkeley’s social fabric relies on the input and activism of its student population, and the other communities of oftentimes low-wage workers and residents (artists, writers, vendors, contractors, freelancers and others) who call our great city home.
But these days it’s harder than ever to live here. More has been written than can be named about the high and rising cost of living, cost of housing and cost of doing business in Berkeley and surrounding communities. Walk into a shop on Shattuck Avenue or Telegraph Avenue and you’ll meet a small business owner who lives in Pinole or El Sobrante because they can’t afford to live near where they work. Some of our fellow students must live hours away from campus so that they can afford both rent and tuition. Far too many of our unhoused fellow citizens are forced to camp in the medians of Adeline Street and in the parks across Southside. Many have lost their homes to evictions and unaffordable increases in rent.
These issues are more than familiar to us as residents and people who move throughout the community on any given day. Kate Harrison has been working on these issues her entire adult life in Berkeley politics, since her days as a student activist at Cal four decades ago on the city’s first rent control campaign. She has fought to protect tenants from unjust evictions and has secured civil liberties and human rights alongside the American Civil Liberties Union.
Kate’s depth of experience and commitment to ensuring that all people have access to the resources and programs they need make her an ideal representative for addressing student concerns on the council. She has worked for decades with governments throughout our state, country and world to help them deliver vital services to their constituents, from serving under San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos for a decade to consulting governments on improving access to justice in the former Yugoslavia. This stands in stark contrast to her opponent’s general lack of experience in the public sector.
We are proud to be only a small segment of an ever-growing coalition supporting Kate’s candidacy. She has received the support of our new Mayor Jesse Arreguin to replace him in his former council seat, alongside endorsements from Sophie Hahn and Ben Bartlett, two of the new progressives on City Council. She is endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Progressive Student Association, former mayors Gus Newport and Shirley Dean, the entire Berkeley Rent Board, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, the Sierra Club, the Alameda County Labor Council, the Berkeley Firefighters Association, the Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Berkeley Citizens Action, Berkeley Tenants Union and the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, among others.
We have an opportunity in Berkeley today to lead the way on progressive solutions to our nation’s challenges and ensure that the legacy we leave for those who follow in our paths is an equitable, sustainable, affordable and livable community for years to come. Kate will bring the lessons she has learned from her work as a consultant on the global stage to keep our city welcoming and inclusive and make it an even better place to call home.
This race is a special election, called because Jesse Arreguin vacated his seat to become mayor. As a result, the election is vote by mail only. If you are a registered voter and resident of District 4, a ballot will be mailed to you in early February. You have until March 7 to mail it back.
District 4 is the heart of Berkeley and is home to a significant portion of Berkeley’s student population. Having Kate on the council will lend a valuable voice on behalf of students and a broad spectrum of Berkeley residents, work to build more affordable housing, ensure that our Downtown remains walkable and move our city and community forward through transit-centric, sustainable development.
We encourage you to vote for Kate Harrison.
For more information, visit electkateharrison.com.
Rigel Robinson is an ASUC senator, Rhea Misra is president of Cal Berkeley Democrats and Soli Alpert is the executive vice president of the Progressive Student Organization. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter