Of the seven contestants, five candidates — four of whom are incumbents — were selected as Berkeley’s pro-tenant slate running for the city’s Rent Stabilization Board election this November.
At the Berkeley Tenants Convention on Sunday afternoon, incumbents James Chang, Maria Poblet, Paola Laverde and John Selawsky were selected along with newcomer and UC Berkeley junior Soli Alpert to run for the Rent Stablization Board.
About 158 Berkeley community members and city officials gathered at the Sports Basement to familiarize themselves with the contestants and vote for the rent board slate. Stefan Elgstrand, assistant to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and Christine Schwartz, a commissioner on the Commission of Disability, both ran but did not make the slate.
Now, different organizations will campaign to the Berkeley community on behalf of this year’s slate.
This year, all seven candidates identified as pro-tenant candidates and advocated for the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act at the convention.
Each tenant was given five minutes to introduce themselves to voters. Shortly afterward, a flood of audience members rose to the front of the stage to cast their votes.
Poblet said at the convention that affordable housing in Berkeley can be built by community members and that she wants to fight for communities of color, which are most vulnerable to evictions.
Poblet ended her speech by chanting, “Sí se puede!”
Chang, who said he is endorsed by all members of the rent board, said during his speech that he is endorsed by all members of the rent board and the majority of City Council. He ended his speech by saying he wants to fight for the most vulnerable people in the Berkeley community.
Laverde said during her speech that as an incumbent, she knows how the system works and will fight with enthusiasm for tenants. She added that she will invite all candidates for California governor to see the work the rent board is doing.
Alpert said at the convention that although students make up almost half of renters within the city, there is no student representation on the rent board and that he would like to bring student issues to the rent board.
Currently serving as chair of the rent board, Selawsky said at the convention that he wants to enforce inspections and protect the most vulnerable residents within the city from eviction to keep Berkeley diverse. Selawsky said he would like to enforce and expand “just cause” eviction protections.
Though not selected for the slate, Elgstrand and Schwartz both came with a number of endorsements and pro-tenant policies.
Elgstrand was endorsed by Arreguín, City Councilmember Ben Bartlett and several current rent board commissioners.
Elgstrand introduced himself at the convention by saying his landlord tried to evict him earlier this year and that this helped drive his passion for tenants’ rights in Berkeley. He added that he, along with the rest of the candidates, would fight to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act.
Schwartz was introduced and endorsed by current rent board Commissioner Alejandro Soto-Vigil, who said that although Schwartz is not a politician, she attends every rent board meeting and understands how the rent board operates.
Schwartz said at the convention that she will continue to advocate for tenants and residents who are vulnerable to eviction.
Berkeley resident Alfred Twu, who attended the convention, said this year’s convention was successful in the way it informed residents.
“The slate is important because that’s how we beat the landlords,” Twu said. “How we educate tenants is critical.”
Because of misinformation from source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated there will be a replacement to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act on the November 2018 ballot. In fact, there will only be a repeal of the law on the ballot.