Rashi Kesarwani wins City Council District 1 race after instant-runoff

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Rashi Kesarwani has won the race for Berkeley City Council District 1, defeating Igor Tregub, Margo Schueler and Mary Behm-Steinberg with 55.82 percent of the vote as of press time at 9:03 p.m.

The District 1 race has been the most contentious of the City Council races in the 2018 election. With 100 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, no candidate had received the required absolute majority of the vote.

Given the rank-choice voting policy in place for Berkeley City Council elections, voters’ second and third preferences for candidates were then taken into consideration and allocated to the two front-runners — Kesarwani and Tregub thus faced each other in an instant run-off.

With Behm-Steinberg’s and Schueler’s votes recounted to represent their voters’ lower preferences, Kesarwani was pushed above the 50 percent hurdle. Tregub received 44.18 percent of the vote after the instant run-off.

Many mail-in ballots are yet to be counted, which means the total vote count may not be available for another few weeks.

Tregub voiced his respect for all candidates who ran and said he congratulates Kesarwani on her victory.

“I … offer my full support to work with her to make sure she has the resources she needs to represent the needs of District 1 and will continue my 15 years of public service to the city of Berkeley,” Tregub said.

Kesarwani’s past experience includes work on the Housing Advisory and the Community Health commissions. She will replace current Councilmember Linda Maio, who has held the District 1 seat since 1992.

“I believe there are three qualities needed for the next council member for District 1 to be successful,” Kesarwani previously told The Daily Californian. “One is experience serving the community, two is an ability to think critically about policy and budget issues, and three is a commitment to the future of the community. And I believe I possess all three of those qualities.”

Sophia Brown-Heidenreich is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sophiabrownh.