One factor for many voters this November is a candidate’s endorsements. Individuals of local and national renown have weighed in on the slew of candidates vying for four Berkeley City Council seats in the Nov. 6 election.
There are four people running for District 1’s City Council seat — Mary Behm-Steinberg, Rashi Kesarwani, Margo Schueler and Igor Tregub — with no incumbent.
Current District 1 Councilmember Linda Maio announced in early March that she would not be running for re-election and that she endorsed Schueler — a recently retired East Bay Municipal Utility District, or EBMUD, superintendent.
“I was actually out of the country,” Schueler said. “I was in Southeast Asia when she announced her retirement (and) said she would be endorsing me.”
Schueler has also been endorsed by former state senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Berkeley Unified School District board member Beatriz Leyva-Cutler. Schueler plans to seek the endorsements of District 1 residents, since they are who she will be representing if elected, according to Schueler.
Maio said she endorsed Schueler because of their shared progressive values, as well as the respect she gained for Schueler during Schueler’s time as Maio’s public works commissioner.
“She’s very interested and involved in climate change,” Maio said. “West Berkeley is very vulnerable to sea-level rise.”
Tregub, who is currently the chair of Berkeley’s Housing Advisory Commission, or HAC, and the Zoning Adjustments Board, has been endorsed by President Pro Tem of the California State Senate Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and Berkeley City Councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn, Kate Harrison and Kriss Worthington. Worthington’s endorsement, however, hasn’t been officially announced yet, according to Tregub.
“Igor is the hardest-working person in Berkeley city government,” Arreguín said. “He’s fought for more affordable housing and has secured millions of dollars to build affordable housing in Berkeley.”
Tregub also received endorsements from the majority of the Emeryville City Council, two Albany City Council members and two Oakland City Council members, which he said are very important to him because he wants to do work at both the regional and city levels.
Kesarwani, the third District 1 candidate and a finance manager for the San Francisco Human Services Agency, has had previous experience with the HAC and the Berkeley Community Health Commission.
She has been endorsed by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, former Berkeley City Councilmembers Darryl Moore and Laurie Capitelli, current Berkeley City Councilmembers Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf, and Assembly District 15 candidate Buffy Wicks — all within the last two months, according to Kesarwani.
Behm-Steinberg, a local activist and artist, is also running. Although she has not received any endorsements yet, she was interviewed by the Sierra Club this weekend to be considered for its endorsement.
She has been trying to transform how campaigns are conducted by pushing for more collaborative campaigns. In fact, she and Schueler recently discussed their individual housing proposals, and Behm-Steinberg said they agreed to “cooperate” and “push forward things that would be beneficial for the city as whole.”
There are four people running for District 4’s City Council seat — Ben Gould, incumbent Kate Harrison, Greg Magofña and Anne Marxer.
Harrison has secured endorsements from Arreguín, Bartlett, Hahn and Councilmember Cheryl Davila, as well as de León.
Harrison, who has only held her council seat for one year after March 2017’s District 4 special election, said she is particularly proud of her endorsement from the Sierra Club.
“I’m proud that Kate is my council member,” said Arreguín, who formerly represented District 4 and still resides in that district.
Gould, a recent UC Berkeley alumnus, ran against Harrison in 2017’s special election. He was endorsed by Droste and Wicks on July 12 — the day he filed to run.
Two days later, Gould was endorsed by Wengraf, he said in a text message. He has also received endorsements from Moore and Capitelli, as well as Emeryville Mayor John Bauters.
Gould added that was endorsed by student leaders, such as Graduate Student Association President Jonathan Morris, which he said “indicat(ed) strong, growing support among the student community for my campaign.”
Magofña, co-founder of the housing advocacy group East Bay for Everyone and interim nutrition coordinator at the J-Sei senior center, is also running for the District 4 seat.
According to Magofña, he is has been endorsed by former mayor Tom Bates, Droste, Moore, Morris and former Berkeley economic development manager Michael Caplan.
“I’m … trying to get endorsements from across the board because I really think that we should be working together as a community instead of fighting ourselves,” Magofña said. “(Endorsements) seem like they’re falling along factional lines.”
Marxer, who also filed to run for the District 4 seat, reportedly dropped out, according to Magofña.
There are two people running for District 7’s City Council seat — Aidan Hill and Rigel Robinson — also with no incumbent running.
Worthington announced July 19 that he would not be running for re-election, and endorsed Robinson, a UC Berkeley alumnus, in his stead.
Robinson also received endorsements from Arreguín, Bartlett, Droste, Tregub, former state Assembly speaker John Pérez, El Cerrito Mayor Gabriel Quinto and EBMUD Director Andy Katz.
“I first met Rigel when he was a freshman at UC Berkeley. He later worked as an intern in the city office,” Arreguín said. “From his work to lower student fees and fight for student housing, he will be an effective leader for the city.”
Hill, a political activist, is running against Robinson. Hill has been endorsed by the People’s Park Committee and 2012 Green Party vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala.
Hill is also campaigning to be the first legally nonbinary public office holder.
“For me, I’m following the tradition of my ancestors, where it’s like, ‘Yes, we’re like Marsha P. Johnson; we’re gonna throw that first brick,’ ” Hill said.
There are four people running for District 8’s City Council seat — Droste, who is the incumbent, Mary Kay Lacey, Russ Tilleman and Alfred Twu.
Droste is running for re-election and has been endorsed by Skinner and Bartlett.
Droste has sat on the council for four years — in a previous Daily Californian article, Wengraf said she considered her a qualified candidate and that she is “very tuned in to the needs of students.”
“The small business subcommittee is brilliant, not only in her district. It’s created a roundtable of small businesses in Berkeley,” Maio said of the subcommittee Droste worked on. “She was the one who spearheaded that and created this roundtable.”
Lacey, another candidate, was endorsed by Hahn and Harrison. Lacey was Harrison’s appointee to the Planning Commission, and she openly opposes the closing of the Alta Bates hospital. “She’s worked really hard on the ‘save Alta Bates’ campaign,” Harrison said. “She has a lot of experience in issues involving planning.”
On Lacey’s website, Hahn said she looked forward to working with Lacey and that she is a capable candidate who is “smart, active, and engaged.”
Local activist Twu is running for the seat as well and has been endorsed by Jovanka Beckles, a Richmond City Council member and Assembly District 15 candidate.
Many of Twu’s other supporters include members of younger progressive organizations, such as East Bay Young Democrats President Toni Gomez. Some members of the ASUC have endorsed them as well, including ASUC Housing Commision chair Helen Veazey.
“My endorsements reflect younger populations,” Twu said.
Tilleman, another activist and candidate, received an endorsement from the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Robert “Bobby” Seale.
Tilleman said he is running because he feels Droste’s accessibility has been lacking and that she does not effectively represent her district.
“There is a push and pull of: Are we gonna go in the direction of what I call ‘official bureaucrats,’ who have an education in government, as opposed to members of the community who just want to run for the community?” Tilleman said.