Recent UC Berkeley graduate Rigel Robinson wins Berkeley City Council District 7 election

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Recent UC Berkeley graduate Rigel Robinson won the City Council District 7 race with 55.37 percent of the vote as of press time at 2:06 a.m. Wednesday with 100 percent of precincts reported.

Cecilia “Ces” Rosales came in second and Aidan Hill came in third, with 35.12 percent and 9.30 percent of the vote, respectively, as of press time.

Robinson, who graduated from UC Berkeley as a political economy major this year, placed student representation at the center of his bid for the City Council seat. He held the position of ASUC External Affairs Vice President during his senior year, when he advocated on behalf of students at state and federal levels of government.

Along with student representation, Robinson’s campaign platforms included fighting for affordable housing, increasing community safety, decriminalizing homelessness, combating climate change and revitalizing Telegraph Avenue.

“I’m deeply honored that so many of our neighbors have put their trust in me to serve as their representative on City Council,” Robinson said. “We’ve spent months reaching out to every resident, every member of this district — and that seems to have worked.”

With Robinson’s win, District 7 — which encompasses UC Berkeley’s campus and student residence halls — will have a new representative for the first time in 22 years. Councilmember Kriss Worthington has occupied the seat since 1996, but he announced in July that he would not seek reelection. Robinson said Worthington’s term is about as long as his own lifetime.

Worthington endorsed Robinson when he announced his plans to step down from City Council. Robinson was also endorsed by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and all other current City Council members.

Reflecting on Robinson’s years of activism, Worthington said in an email that he expects him to address issues with a “progressive attitude combined with a practical approach” while serving on City Council.

“Rigel is eminently qualified and uniquely prepared for City Council,” Worthington said in the email. “I feel thrilled to have helped in a small way to encourage such a talented recent graduate to take on this position.”

Rosales, a longtime activist and Berkeley resident, emphasized alleviating the housing crisis in Berkeley in her campaign for the District 7 seat. She has been a leader in the housing sector and is the founder of a nonprofit graphic design business.

This election was not the first time Rosales has vied for a spot on City Council. In 2010, she lost to Worthington in the District 7 race.

Rosales was endorsed by three current City Council members: Linda Maio, Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf.

As local election results continued to be released Wednesday morning, Rosales said “the people have spoken” but declined to comment on the results further.

Hill, who identifies as a nonbinary formerly homeless first-generation student of color, focused their campaign on combating housing and food insecurity, as well as on protecting People’s Park from potential development.

Hill was endorsed by the People’s Park Committee and 2012 Green Party vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala.

“What I learned (from my campaign) is that you can’t trust endorsements. You can’t trust nonpartisanship from institutions. But what you can trust is the people and their love for the community,” Hill said.

Hill emphasized their belief in the power of students, adding that they are “very happy” with the election because many students voted for them.

In light of UC Berkeley’s role as a significant stakeholder in District 7, Robinson said his experience working “with and against” the campus will go a long way. He added that while some voters were skeptical of his age, many responded to his candidacy with excitement.

“District 7 will have new representation for the first time in many years,” Robinson said. “I know many residents are eager for a new perspective in that space.”

Danielle Kaye is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @danielledkaye.