Anthony Carrasco, former vice chair of the city of Berkeley’s Youth Commission, officially transitioned to acting chair Monday after his predecessor stepped down a few weeks earlier.
Carrasco, a campus senior studying political science, has been a commissioner on the Youth Commission since August 2017 and has now taken on former Youth Commission chair Alexandria Tesch’s position. The Youth Commission advises the mayor and Berkeley City Council on policy issues related to youth.
“I’m just extremely grateful to have a fantastic team of commissioners,” Carrasco said. “They have exciting ideas and are committed to making the city better.”
Carrasco’s first day as acting chair involved participating in a meeting about the recent San Pablo Park shooting. He said he expressed support for more comprehensive and holistic approaches, rather than increased policing, to address the issue of violence. Carrasco added that the Youth Commission has authorized him to write a letter to Mayor Jesse Arreguín on this subject, which he said he is “excited about.”
Carrasco said his focus is on addressing housing insecurity, public safety, education policies and homeless youth and their families. Prior to serving on the Youth Commission, Carrasco was an ASUC senator who worked on housing issues and financial aid. Carrasco joined the Youth Commission because it aligned with his housing and education work in the ASUC and because he wanted to become involved in both campus and city politics.
Making Berkeley schools more accessible to and supportive of homeless children, who Carrasco described as “hard-working and creative,” is a major component of his policy goals. According to Carrasco, only 12 percent of homeless children graduate from high school.
“Schools are extremely inaccessible for homeless youth and their families, whether it be (lack of) access to transportation or zero tolerance policies to behavioral issues or the stigma,” Carrasco said.
Another one of Carrasco’s goals is to empower fellow commissioners to make a positive change in the city. He said he has heard many “really fantastic” ideas from other commissioners this year, including drafting policies related to access to tobacco products and transportation.
District 7 City Council candidate and UC Berkeley alumnus Rigel Robinson, who worked with Carrasco in the ASUC, said he believes Carrasco is qualified for the job.
“Anthony (Carrasco) is one of the most innovative and creative minds I know,” Robinson said in an email. “Anthony has been a champion for progressive change in the city and on campus, and he has always made it a personal priority to be a mentor to others and open doors for new perspectives.”
Carrasco will continue to serve as acting chair until Oct. 9, when the commission will host a special vote to designate an official chair of the commission. Carrasco stated that he is interested in serving as official chair and intends to apply for the commission’s consideration.
“I think it’s great to have somebody like him on the commission,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “To me, it’s really beautiful that we have multiple college students in Berkeley serving within commissions.”