When The Daily Californian endorsed Jesse Arreguín for mayor in 2016, we described him as the most qualified to “change the fabric of the city for the better.” After four years, we stand by our position and place our faith again in Arreguín.
Arreguín’s roots in Berkeley run deep: He attended UC Berkeley and served on various housing-related commissions before being elected to the City Council. During his time as mayor, Arreguín has only progressed, developing extensive local connections and rising as a leader in regional politics — he currently serves as president of the Association of Bay Area Governments.
His challengers — Wayne Hsiung, Aidan Hill and Naomi Pete — do not present the same possibilities. Of the four candidates, the editorial board interviewed Arreguín and Hsiung during its deliberations. Pete is not running an active campaign, and Hill could not be reached for an interview as of press time.
Hill’s platform touches on many issues, but none are addressed with specificity. Their experience as vice chair of the Berkeley Homeless Commission is valuable, but Hill has much less politicking experience than Arreguín or Hsiung. This raises the question of how they will create and implement concrete solutions. Hill does not have the wide-ranging experience or political focus necessary to be Berkeley’s next leader.
Hsiung, an environmental attorney and co-founder of animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, is a stronger candidate. In his interview with the editorial board, Hsiung outlined progressive and ambitious plans to tackle climate change, housing and public safety.
However, Hsiung’s interview answers appeared to be solely focused on what he believes is important for the city, rather than what residents would prioritize. In response to how he would tackle Berkeley’s gun violence problem, Hsiung avoided answering by pivoting toward his platform regarding police reform and how he would combat homelessness instead. From this answer and many others, it is clear that Hsiung has developed a narrow focus of importance that feels detached from Berkeley itself.
Additionally, the editorial board is uncertain that Hsiung has the governing experience necessary to adequately follow through with his plans, especially amid a pandemic. The pandemic’s impact on Berkeley was another critical factor in the board’s decision. Arreguín’s approach is commendable: He led the city to a quick, even-handed response that consisted of support for small businesses, an early shelter-in-place notice and direct community work with vulnerable populations.
Most admirably, Arreguín confronted his mistakes in his interview. He noted how he should have and will soon be directing greater attention to the disproportionately impacted Latinx and Black communities in Berkeley regarding pandemic assistance. Arreguín also highlighted his error in voting for an ordinance against oversized vehicles, including recreational vehicles. This ability to reflect and own up to mistakes while maintaining awareness of his strengths solidifies our trust in Arreguín.
Arreguín has the experience. He has the connections. He has the hallmark Berkeleyan progressive mindset. Arreguín has served as mayor with respect and awareness, and he will only improve to better support the city of Berkeley.
Vote Jesse Arreguín for mayor.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the fall 2020 opinion editor, Katherine Shok.