City Council to switch 4 seats after Tuesday night’s election

Karen Chow/Staff

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Update 11/9/16: This article has been updated to reflect further information from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and Sophie Hahn.

City Council is poised for a dramatic shift in policy direction after Tuesday night’s election resulted in changes to four council seats.

Newcomers won 3 of 4 council races while District 4’s seat will be vacated by councilmember Jesse Arreguin after his successful bid for mayor against Laurie Capitelli, who did not seek re-election to represent District 5.

“This is the largest change in the city council in more than 30 years,” said Kriss Worthington, councilmember for District 7 who supported Arreguin in his own bid for mayor.

Susan Wengraf was the lone incumbent up for re-election to retain her seat in District 6, while Darryl Moore was edged out by his former commission appointee Cheryl Davila in ranked-choice voting distribution. Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn, both new to the council, will take over seats in Districts 3 and 5.

Their victories over more moderate opponents and new leadership under Arreguin signals the potential for a more progressive direction for future city council legislation.

District 2

Cheryl Davila won by just 42 votes after the District 2 race went to a third round of redistribution from ranked-choice voting.

Despite leading into the early morning hours Wednesday as votes were counted, Moore secured just 40 percent of the vote after all districts were accounted, forcing retabulation between Davila and the third candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple.

Davila earned 31 percent of the vote before redistribution. She was dismissed last year from the Human Welfare and Community Action commission amid disagreement. As one of her platforms she hoped to open discussion between District 2 residents and City Council through a series of neighborhood committees.

Moore had held the seat since 2004. He ran on a platform emphasizing affordable housing and public safety and received endorsements from the Berkeley Police Association and campaign donations from the National Association of Realtors.

Armstrong-Temple secured 29 percent of the vote. A community activist, she was arrested by BPD amid its disbandment of a homeless encampment four days before the election.

District 3

Ben Bartlett emerged victorious in the crowded contest for District 3, earning 57 percent of the vote.

Bartlett, an environmental attorney who has served on the city Zero Waste and Planning commissions, will take over the seat occupied by Max Anderson since 2004. He earned the endorsement of a majority of City Council members, outlasting opponents Mark Coplan (20 percent), Deborah Matthews (20 percent) and Al Murray (2 percent).

The win arrived at an emotional time for Bartlett, after the recent death of his father several weeks prior.

He previously told The Daily Californian that he would approach issues of crime and policing acknowledging that crime is a systemic issue requiring a community solution to address.

“I knew how to win because my father taught me how to,” Bartlett said. “He came here with nothing and created a great life.”

His campaign advocated for environmental sustainability and compassionate understanding of issues facing disadvantaged Berkeley residents, such as affordable housing.

“I’m here for the underdog and uplifting the people,” Bartlett said. “I knew … we would never lose.”

District 5

For Sophie Hahn, the third time’s a charm — after unsuccessful bids for District 5’s seat against Capitelli in 2008 and 2012, she coasted to victory Tuesday night with 61 percent of the vote over Stephen Murphy.

Her win came despite endorsements of her opponent from the majority of City Council, including mayoral hopeful Laurie Capitelli and outgoing mayor Tom Bates.

But Hahn, a current member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, earned points with organizations like the Berkeley Progressive Alliance for her stances on issues like affordable housing and with newspapers such as the East Bay Times and the Daily Cal.

“I feel like my opponent did everything she had to do to win. Hats off to her,” Murphy said. “Learning so much about the city was really exhilarating.”

Hahn’s plans for District 5 included improving the sustainability of the district’s parks and investing in infrastructure to create a more walkable downtown area. Like Murphy, she hopes to encourage small business growth through a more transparent permitting process.

“I know all the people have worked hard,” Hahn told supporters. “I say take a rest maybe a halfway and then we’re going to get together. … We are going inspire each other and we’re going to address the problems we have in Berkeley.”

District 6

Susan Wengraf handily defeated challengers Fred Dodsworth and Isabelle Gaston on her way to her third consecutive term on City Council.

Wengraf has represented District 6 since 2008 and served on the city Planning Commission for 18 years. Her platform emphasized public safety and a regional approach to solving homelessness.

During her interview with the Daily Cal, she stressed the importance of fire safety in District 6, where crowded overhanging shrubbery of many residences and narrows roads for emergency respondents make the Berkeley Hills district especially vulnerable.

Dodsworth, a longtime journalist, and Gaston, president of the North East Berkeley Association, ran an informal ranked-choice campaign against Wengraf. After the results were tallied, Dodsworth said he was skeptical of Wengraf’s plans to address homelessness and the planned closure of Alta Bates Hospital in 2030.

“I won,” Dodsworth said. “I don’t have to go to City Council meetings.”

Gibson Chu, Sakura Cannestra, Camryn Bell and Audrey McNamara contributed to this report.

Check back for updates.

Alexander is an executive news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @abarreira_dc.