Four contested seats on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board are likely to go mostly to candidates from the Progressive Affordable Housing Slate, data shows as of press time.
As of Wednesday afternoon, with all voting precincts reported, the lead candidates are Judy Shelton, Asa Dodsworth and Alejandro Soto-Vigil from the Progressive slate, and Judy Hunt from the opposing Tenants United for Fairness slate. Incumbent Igor Tregub lost his seat by a mere 103 votes, and totals for the third, fourth and fifth place candidates – Dodsworth, Soto-Vigil, and Tregub, respectively – are extremely close. Since mail-in and provisional ballots are still being processed, results may shift.
The battle for the four available rent board seats between the largely incumbent Progressive Affordable Housing slate and the challenging Tenants United for Fairness slate has been particularly contentious. TUFF incumbent Nicole Drake and TUFF slate candidates Jay James, Kiran Shenoy and Judy Hunt used an unfavorable Alameda County Superior Court grand jury report to critique the Progressive slate candidates, while city planning commissioner Patti Dacey filed an Oct. 26 complaint that accused the TUFF slate of circumventing Berkeley’s campaign contribution laws.
The June grand jury report, which criticized the board’s hiring procedures, high registration fees and too-high compensation for the board’s executive director, concluded after a nine-month investigation that Berkeley’s rent board evidenced a pro-tenant bias. The rent board contended that the grand jury report was factually inaccurate.
TUFF’s candidates have also been subject to criticism. In a complaint filed with the Fair Campaign Practices commission, planning commissioner Patti Dacey alleged that TUFF candidates had broken city and state laws.
The complaint also stated that TUFF’s use of a “slate mailer organization” to advertise TUFF candidates while opposing Measure U was a strategy to circumvent Berkeley’s strict individual contribution laws and funnel large amounts of corporate money to support the TUFF slate.
While the TUFF candidates’ attorney stated at an Oct. 30 meeting of the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission that TUFF has returned about $1300 in contributions from businesses, Drake, James and Shenoy asserted that TUFF did not intentionally break election law.
The city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission will hear a detailed report on the complaint’s charges on Nov. 15.
Contact Gautham Thomas at [email protected].