Mayor Jesse Arreguín celebrates 1st year in office, gears up for re-election

Maya Valluru/Staff

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Mayor Jesse Arreguín celebrated his first year in office and looked toward the future of his political career Thursday evening at the Cornerstone bar on Shattuck Avenue.

The event was hosted by Arreguín and his campaign team, as well as by various Berkeley council members, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The party was held in a reserved back room of the bar and attended by about 75 guests, councilmembers and supporters.

According to Arreguín, the purpose of the party was to celebrate the accomplishments of the challenging year that his office had faced and to mark a continuation of the work still to be done, as well as to campaign for his re-election in 2020.

In a speech given at the end of the night, Arreguín began by thanking the people who had helped him into office, as well as those who support him.

During the speech, Arreguín said he plans to continue his efforts to return Berkeley to “its values,” as well as resisting the Trump campaign, and reflected on issues his office had addressed, such as housing and homelessness. He also reaffirmed his office’s commitment to the Paris accords on climate change and Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city for undocumented residents.

“There’s a lot to do,” Arreguín said. “The work continues. (Trump’s) moved in the wrong direction. We want to be a beacon of hope.”

Before Arreguín’s speech, people chatted around tables with food and drinks and had the opportunity to play pingpong and cornhole. At the front check-in table, members of Arreguín’s office asked for donations to support his re-election campaign.

The mayor’s senior adviser, Jacquelyn McCormick, said that over the next few years in office, Arreguín’s team will continue to build on the work it had already started on the homelessness crisis, housing and university relations.

“There have been many dark times,” McCormick said. “These events were hard on the team emotionally. You’re there for the entire time and it’s hard to see the city get beat up, the people get beat up. That’s not what we stand for. … Jurisdictions move slowly, but we’ve built the base. We’re striving to do amazing things.”

John Selawsky, chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, said he appreciates working with Arreguín. He said that although Arreguín hadn’t accomplished all his campaign promises yet, “bureaucracy moves slow and moves slow for a reason.”

Igor Tregub, rent board commissioner and an old college friend of Arreguín, said the mayor’s leadership has been a “beacon of light” since the political direction of the nation changed last year.

When introducing Arreguín before his speech, Councilmember Sophie Hahn said, “He’s a leadership prodigy. He inhabits the role of mayor of Berkeley.”

Contact Mary Kelly Ford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MaryKellyFord1.