Rashi Kesarwani, a finance manager for the San Francisco Human Services Agency, officially filed papers to run for Berkeley City Council’s District 1 seat — currently occupied by Councilmember Linda Maio — on March 19.
Kesarwani said she has five key priorities: advocating for affordable housing, finding lasting solutions to homelessness, ensuring that Berkeley prioritizes public safety, addressing the long-term need for investment in infrastructure and preserving parks and open spaces.
Linda Maio, who currently represents District 1 and has for the past 25 years, announced on March 11 that she would not be seeking reelection.
“I’m running because I want to ensure that the American dream of my parents’ generation remains possible for my newborn son Austin,” Kesarwani said. “I know that many Cal students are struggling with the cost of housing in Berkeley, and I have friends who are in a similar situation.”
Some of Kesarwani’s past experience includes serving on the Housing Advisory Commission and the Community Health Commission. As a member of the latter’s Acute Services Subcommittee, she focused on preventing the closure of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and recommended that City Council prepare a health impact assessment of its potential closure.
According to Darrell Owens, a commissioner on the Housing Advisory Commission, Kesarwani’s commitment to affordable housing is “sorely needed” and her “pro-housing philosophy” will be valued on City Council.
Kesarwani earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Brown University in 2005 and a master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley in 2012. She and her husband then purchased their home in District 1 a few years ago.
“I like the fact that she’s young and she has started a new family, so I think she’ll have a very useful perspective on where the city should be heading in the future,” said Jill Martinucci, the campaign’s treasurer.
Martinucci also said she believes Kesarwani’s master’s in public policy will prove useful in aiding the council on financial and budgetary issues.
Margo Schueler, who is also running for the District 1 seat, said she is “very excited to see a full list of candidates” and that Kesarwani will have “a lot of insight and input into the political process.” Igor Tregub, another candidate for District 1, said he looks forward to an “exchange of ideas and the vision that each of us has to make District 1 a better place.”
“I believe there are three qualities needed for the next council member for District 1 to be successful,” Kesarwani said. “One is experience serving the community, two is an ability to think critically about policy and budget issues, and three is a commitment to the future of the community. And I believe I possess all three of those qualities.”