‘Potential for youth to be involved’: Recent UC Berkeley graduates win city council elections across state

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In this week’s elections, a number of recent UC Berkeley graduates succeeded in winning spots on city councils across the state, bringing new perspectives to local politics.

One such recent alumnus is Bryan Osorio, a 2018 campus graduate who was elected to the Delano City Council with 31.28 percent of the vote as of press time 5:08 p.m Thursday.

Osorio has prior experience as an elected official, serving as chief of staff for former ASUC senator Anthony Carrasco during his junior year. He also worked with former ASUC external affairs vice president, or EAVP, Rigel Robinson — another 2018 UC Berkeley graduate and newly elected Berkeley City Council member for District 7 — as state affairs and organizing director for the EAVP office during his senior year.

“I was grateful for my Berkeley experiences,” Osorio said. “I learned a lot more from the people in Berkeley from an organizational perspective (and) legislative perspective.”

Robinson won the District 7 election Wednesday with 55.68 percent of the vote as of press time. His campaign platforms include defending affordable housing, increasing community safety and decriminalizing homelessness.

Along with Osorio and Robinson, 2015 UC Berkeley graduate Jocelyn Yow became a young council member-elect this week after winning the Eastvale City Council District 4 race in Southern California. Yow returned to Eastvale, her hometown,  after graduation and decided to run for city council.

Osorio grew up in Delano, an agricultural city near Bakersfield. After graduating from UC Berkeley this year, Osorio moved back to his hometown to run for city council at the age of 22.

Osorio said he was inspired to run for city council after an incident in March, in which a couple died in a car accident while trying to flee from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, deportation officers in Delano.

“I just felt that this is too much,” Osorio said. “There’s no leadership in the area condemning these actions.”

Osorio then attended an event aimed at demanding accountability for ICE officers and standing in unity with the immigrant community. Osorio said the event inspired him to try to provide a “sustainable” platform for marginalized groups — and after two seats opened in the Delano City Council, he began his campaign.

With the help of campaign manager and UC Berkeley senior Angelica Rodriguez, Osorio based his campaign on embracing marginalized communities and inspiring young people. When encouraging residents to vote, Osorio said he faced an “understanding shock” at how many people have lost trust in the political system as a whole.

“Oftentimes when we try to get out the vote, we overlook the narrative of those who have been betrayed, disillusioned (and) disenfranchised,” Osorio said. We also have to look at how to address lack of trust and lack of accountability.”

Robinson said finding out Osorio won the election was “one of the most exciting moments of my life.”

“Bryan is, in the simplest terms, one of the best human beings,” Robinson said. “Bryan never forgets who has helped him, and his story, and who and what is important to him.”

As a relatively young city council candidate, Osorio said there were some people who claimed he was too young to run for office and that he did not know what he was getting into. But Osorio saw the need for change in Delano, especially in terms of voter turnout among young residents.

Osorio said many residents in Delano, an agricultural city, were immigrants and fieldworkers who could not legally vote — so it was up to their children to do their part.

“There’s a lot of potential for youth to be involved,” Osorio said. “It’s about how to get to them.”

Contact Sabina Mahavni at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabina_mahavni.