City council member meets with Obama

Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin traveled to Washington, D.C., Friday morning to attend an intimate reception with the president and meet with members of his administration.

Arreguin was one of a few members of the Young Elected Officials Network who were invited to the White House to discuss important local and state issues with President Barack Obama.

Upon his arrival in the capitol around 11 a.m. Friday, Arreguin said he was led to a series of policy briefings with Obama administration officials before heading to the reception with the president. According to Arreguin, about 200 officials from across the country were in attendance.

In meeting with members of the administration, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Arreguin said the president’s plan on economic recovery was discussed.

“We talked a little bit about innovation in terms of providing government subsidies for (research and development) and clean tech-type businesses, trying to stimulate job creation,” Arreguin said.

Additionally, Arreguin said learning about various types of grants was “probably one of the most interesting parts of the whole trip.” Such opportunities, including a competitive grant to support the establishment of an infrastructure for electric vehicles, the city of Berkeley may want to seriously consider applying for, he said.

“I think (the trip) was incredibly helpful because a lot of things that were discussed related to what we’ve been discussing on the City Council and in Berkeley — especially on the environmental side,” he said.

After the White House reception, during which Obama spoke with the group about the importance of young people being involved in government and what it means to be a leader, Arreguin spoke with the president directly about the president’s immigration policy and Arreguin’s concerns about rising deportations.

“He was very polite and he listened — he said it was a priority of his and something they would be working on,” Arreguin said. “Obviously, the climate in Washington is different this year than it was last year, which will make it a little difficult to move forward on that.”


J.D. Morris is an assistant news editor.