On Tuesday, Berkeley voters will have a say in re-electing Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, as their Congressional representative for District 13.
Lee, a UC Berkeley alumna who represented East Bay voters for 16 years, is running for re-election against Dakin Sundeen, the vice chair of the East Bay Young Republicans and an East Bay native.
In the primary election June 3, Lee received about 82 percent of approximately 58,000 votes, while Sundeen finished second with about 11 percent.
Lee is a member of the Higher Education Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2012, she secured a $1-million increase to support diversity in STEM careers. In April, Lee and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, discussed with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and sexual assault survivors the campus’ efforts to combat sexual assault.
Lee co-sponsored two bills to help students better afford college and said she will continue working to ensure federal resources for UC Berkeley research and the city’s public safety and transportation infrastructure. Her 2016 platform focuses on job creation and reducing income inequality.
“Policies must include expanding access to high-quality, affordable education from preschool to college and (make) significant investments in training workers for the jobs of the future,” Lee said in an e-mail. “It is an economic priority that college is affordable and accessible to all.”
Sundeen is Republican and self-described libertarian who currently works as a system administrator at local technology support firm Definitive Networks Inc. After graduating from Heald College in 2008, he worked for a small business and became interested in economics and politics.
“I ran basically on a whim to get more involved in advancing ideas that don’t get too much play in the Bay Area,” Sundeen said, adding that he would shape his policies toward realistic rather than idealistic solutions. “We need someone who is a little more engaged in our community and is a little more in-tune with the needs of more middle-class residents in our voters.”
To create jobs in the Bay Area, Sundeen would work around environmental and business regulations to attract a larger presence of high-end manufacturing. In contrast to Lee, Sundeen favors less government involvement in student loans and sees trade schools and for-profit universities as potential alternatives.
“Schools (are) addicted to federal money and grants,” Sundeen said. “We should be focusing more on affordability and quality of education.”
On Saturday, Lee will speak at the Berkeley Post Office on Allston Way as part of the rally against the United States Postal Service’s attempts to sell the building to private ownership. The building is considered a historic site by many Berkeley community members.
For the past two years, Lee has worked with a group of community members called Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office to protest the sale, according to group member Mike Lonergan. To hold up the USPS to closer scrutiny, she included language in the federal budget requiring an audit of the sale of historic sites and sent a letter to the postmaster general requesting that community members be notified of any sale in advance, he said.
“Barbara Lee has been enormously helpful to us,” Lonergan said. “(She) has been right there for us all the way through, and we’re tremendously grateful.”