The city of Berkeley faces a number of unique challenges each year that its legislators will seek to address looking forward into their tenures. Between its newly elected members and re-elected incumbents, the Berkeley City Council is looking to combat the housing crisis and address infrastructure needs in the coming year as some of its most urgent goals.
In November’s election, half of the Berkeley City Council seats were up for grabs, with Districts 1, 4, 7 and 8 voting on candidates to take on each district’s distinct challenges. After Nov. 6, Rashi Kesarwani, Rigel Robinson, Lori Droste and Kate Harrison were elected as city council members, the latter two having previously served on the City Council.
“I feel this is a great result for the community,” Harrison previously told The Daily Californian. “We talked a lot about affordable housing and police accountability and dealing with homelessness, and people came to the forefront for how they want to approach the issues.”
Harrison was among those re-elected this last November and will continue serving District 4. As a returning Berkeley City Council member, she hopes to continue with the work she has done in the past. Among these issues are working to combat Berkeley’s challenges regarding affordable housing and homelessness as well as expanding upon her work on environmental issues and police reform.
“I’m an honest worker. I’m not always perfect — I make mistakes — but I think people see that I’m doing this because I care about our community,” Harrison previously told the Daily Cal. “I love our community, and I think people are trying our best to come up with solutions.”
Having authored legislation to combat the Berkeley housing crisis, Droste hopes to continue with her work as a re-elected City Council member for District 8. She plans to keep advocating for housing affordability after having worked to regulate short-term rentals and streamline the creation of affordable housing.
As a City Council member, she also prioritized accessibility to emergency care and supported commercial growth in Elmwood.
“(I’m) dedicated to public service and giving back to my community,” Droste previously told the Daily Cal. “As a parent, it’s more important than ever to make sure I’m giving back to my community and making sure Berkeley is a great place for future generations.”
Now representing District 1, City Council newcomer Kesarwani ran with the hopes of finding long-term solutions to homelessness while also addressing Berkeley’s housing crisis. Kesarwani is also looking to reinvest in Berkeley’s infrastructure, which she hopes will preserve parks and open spaces.
Robinson, a recent UC Berkeley graduate and a former ASUC external affairs vice president, is also new to the Berkeley City Council, representing District 7. His primary focus is student representation, and he looks to help combat the housing crisis and give special attention to affordable housing.
Among Robinson’s goals for Berkeley, he is hoping to increase community safety, decriminalize homelessness, combat climate change and revitalize Telegraph Avenue.
“I’m deeply honored that so many of our neighbors have put their trust in me to serve as their representative on City Council,” Robinson previously told the Daily Cal. “We’ve spent months reaching out to every resident, every member of this district — and that seems to have worked.”
Berkeley City Councilmembers Cheryl Davila, Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn and Susan Wengraf will continue to serve, representing Districts 2, 3, 5 and 6, respectively. Their seats will be voted on in the 2020 elections, along with the mayoral election.
Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] .