Berkeley community reflects on results of November 2018 midterm elections

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Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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The results of Election Day perpetuated a series of flips and changes on the local, state and national stages. Among the highlights — a national flip in the House of Representatives, a state rejection of the expansion of rent control and a contentious Berkeley City Council District 1 race.

Local

Berkeley has re-elected incumbents Kate Harrison for District 4 and Lori Droste for District 8 to City Council. Additionally, UC Berkeley alumnus Rigel Robinson won the District 7 seat, replacing longtime Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

“I’m gratified that our voters could discuss the real issues ahead of us that reflect what really we should be talking about,” Harrison said.

District 1 candidate Mary Kay Lacey was among the candidates defeated by incumbents.

“I am proud of the campaign we ran and enormously grateful for the support and overwhelming number of progressive endorsements I received,” Lacey said in an email.

For the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, four incumbents – James Chang, Paola Laverde, John Selawsky and María Poblet — were re-elected to the rent board, along with Soli Alpert, who is taking time off from his senior year at UC Berkeley.

“Students make up half the tenants in Berkeley, so it’s important that someone close to the campus community can make those decisions,” Robinson said.

For the board of Berkeley Unified School District, both Ka’dijah Brown and Julie Sinai now join incumbent Ty Alper.

“Our democracy is only as strong as our public schools, and I am grateful to the voters for re-electing me to help the Berkeley public schools grow and improve,” Alper said.

Sinai said the school board has its “hands full” with the upcoming budget and focus on making cuts as far from the classroom as possible.

Regarding city and county measures — all were approved universally.

Sinai expressed excitement for Measure O because she said it presents an opportunity for partnerships between the city and school district to address the city’s housing problem.

Berkeley resident Wayne Heiser said, however, that he believes there is a constant reliance on bond measures to solve problems and he thinks measures do not accomplish much.

State

In the race for the state cabinet, former lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom beat John Cox for California governor by a 16-point margin. Newsom will work closely with newly elected Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and incumbents Alex Padilla for California Secretary of State and Betty Yee for state controller.

“In a state where only about 28% of the voters are registered Republicans, getting out of the jungle primary and then carrying over 40% of the vote in the general election is an incredible achievement, and we are so proud,” said Berkeley College Republicans External Vice President Bradley Devlin in an email.

Voters also evaluated 11 state ballot measures, which had “direct physical impact on residents,” according to campus sophomore Tooba Wasi.

Californians voted to approve a $4 billion bond for housing and services, maintain the 12 cents per gallon gas tax and make farmers provide more space to animals.

“It is nice that Prop. 6 is defeated,” said Heiser, who emphasized that the gas tax is crucial in funding California’s large infrastructure projects.

Some proposals rejected were the transferred property tax for residents 55 years and older and the initiative to limit kidney dialysis clinics’ revenue.

Proposition 10, which mustered a lot of support in Berkeley and would have repealed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, thus lifting restrictions on what kind of rent control laws local governments can enact, was rejected by nearly 63.3 percent of voters.

The rejection of Prop. 10 was “a big missed opportunity,” according to Robinson, but the debate over Prop. 10 was “effective in reaching people about urgency of housing crisis and meaningful protection to help address those needs.”

National

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein retained her seat in Congress. While several California Democrats flipped Republican congressional districts, these contested districts were not crucial in flipping the House of Representatives.

“While it’s a huge positive for blocking Trump’s agenda and investigating his administration, I’m not too hopeful in terms of moving actual policy forward,” campus alumnus Zachary Sweger said about the flip. “It was the baseline for what I hoped for.

Wasi said there were wins on Election Day that were not in California but were beneficial for the country.

“The first lesbian Native American woman — and all of these incredible women getting into politics and winning Congress seats — this is a great direction,” Wasi said.

Despite the changes at all levels, the Berkeley community has expressed hope for the future based on a large voter turnout and general excitement about the elections.

“I felt pretty optimistic, particularly about young voter turnout — it seemed like there was a ton of energy in motivating people to vote,” said campus senior Cole Triebold.

Contact Alexandra Casey at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @acasey_dc.