This November, 25-year Berkeley resident Dmitri Belser will challenge incumbent Berkeley City Councilmember Max Anderson for the District 3 seat, which Anderson has held since 2004.
Belser, who filed paperwork for candidacy on July 26, said his experience as the executive director of the city’s Center for Accessible Technology and the president of the Ed Roberts Campus — a community center located above the Ashby BART Station that is home to several disability organizations — makes him qualified to challenge Anderson for the responsibility of serving the district’s needs.
“As the executive director for the Center of Accessible Technology, I was responsible for everything that happened at the agency including consultancy and fundraising,” Belser said. “I was also president of the Ed Roberts campus before and during construction where I was responsible for all aspects of the building, design and construction of the $47 million project.”
Aside from his experiences, Belser also said it would be nice to have someone with a disability, like himself, on the council. He also said he believes the election issues that District 3 voters are most concerned with will mirror the issues that will be most discussed in the presidential and congressional elections in the fall.
“Voters (in District 3) are focused on things that people are concerned with nationally — working for a more vibrant and better economy,” Belser said.
Someone who has worked closely with Belser for more than 10 years on the board of directors at the Ed Roberts Campus is Susan Henderson, the executive director of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, one of seven organizations housed in the campus.
“It’s been great working with Dmitri — he’s really diligent, he’s thoughtful, smart, hard-working, carries them out,” Henderson said. “I’m sure he’d make a great representative because he understands policy issues and has all the things you’d want in a public servant.”
Anderson, who was a registered nurse and held a seat on the city’s Rent Stabilization Board prior to taking office, first took office when he replaced then-93-year-old Maudelle Shirek, who held the seat for the previous 20 years.
“My main reason for continuing the work I started eight years ago was to continue to serve the community in all aspects,” Anderson said.
Anderson said his strides to improve crime and traffic in his district as well as a new health initiative at Malcolm X Middle School as examples of why he is fit to continue as a council member.
“Our murder rates have gone down from when I was first elected when we had five to six per year and now are down to one to two,” Anderson said. “We’ve had people hit and killed over the years on Adeline, so we’ve installed beacon lights to alert pedestrians along with working with the business community to enhance better pavements.”
Also on the November ballot is the city’s civil sidewalks measure which Anderson previously said he will work to defeat and has openly spoken out against.
“I know that most students have a keen interest in opposing the sit-lie ordinance and I fully support efforts to defeat that,” Anderson said.
Along with the state and national elections, District 3 voters will be able to choose between the candidates and the remaining City Council positions on Nov. 6.