Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín announces campaign for reelection

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Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín announced plans to run for reelection in 2020, seeking a second term. So far, no other candidates have registered to challenge the incumbent.

If successful, Arreguín — Berkeley’s youngest mayor in more than a century — will serve a second four-year term. Arreguín is also the first Latinx mayor in the city.

Arreguín underlined the role Berkeley plays as a progressive policy trailblazer, emphasizing the city’s role on a national level.

“With our nation and our planet in crisis, with worsening climate change, growing inequality, and a hostile federal administration in Washington, it’s critical for cities like Berkeley to take on the challenges facing America in the 21st Century,” Arreguín wrote in his reelection announcement.

Berkeley has a track record of reelecting mayors. Only two mayors, Shirley Dean and Tom Bates, held the position between 1994 and 2016. In his second term, Arreguín says he wants to continue to focus on housing and homelessness. He calls these issues “two of the most critical challenges” facing the city.

“We have expanded efforts, but there’s a lot we still have to do,” Arreguín said. “Anyone who walks the streets of Berkeley sees how many tents there are, and it’s unacceptable.”

In Arreguín’s first term, the city has disbursed Measure O funds to construct affordable senior housing in North Berkeley and to support Berkeley Way — a $20 million project that will provide affordable housing and capacity for homeless individuals. A city report from May indicates that the city’s homeless population is now at 2,000 individuals and is growing.

“These are things that are not going to solve themselves, and the reason why I’m running is to continue to address these long-standing challenges,” Arreguín said.

Approaching the climate crisis is near the top of Arreguín’s policy agenda. Ordinances that ban single-use plastics and new residential natural gas construction have put Berkeley at the forefront of national environmental policy within the past two years. These policies are why Berkeley is closely watched by the rest of the country, according to Arreguín.

The young mayor’s political involvement can be traced back to his involvement in city politics as the ASUC city affairs director while he was a student at UC Berkeley. Addressing the student housing crunch, Arreguín points to ongoing efforts to add housing to Berkeley’s Southside.

“You can see all the cranes in Southside and more construction we are seeing now from the More Student Housing Now resolution that was adopted a while ago,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, the ASUC external affairs vice president and a campus senior. “Especially with the fact (that City Council) has moved in a younger direction in the past few years, I think that what I’m hopeful for is continued engagement on the issue of housing.”

More than a year out from the November 2020 election, Arreguín has endorsements from California political leaders, including state Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, state Board of Equalization chair Malia Cohen, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and others.

Arreguín pointed to an endorsement from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, which he says is not typically given in local elections.

Within City Council, Arreguín was also endorsed by Vice Mayor Susan Wengraf as well as Councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Kate Harrison, Sophie Hahn and Rigel Robinson.

Arreguín says he is planning a campaign kickoff event Oct. 5, with a time and location yet to be announced.

Brandon Yung is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @brandonyung1.