Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and three City Council members were sworn into office in front of City Hall on Thursday in a socially distanced event.
Arreguín and Councilmembers Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn were sworn in for their second terms, while Terry Taplin was sworn in for his first term. The event took place under COVID-19 regulations, where participants wore masks and maintained a distance of 6 feet, and in-person attendance was prohibited.
All council members were given the option to be sworn in via Zoom, according to Councilmember Susan Wengraf, who chose this option amid the recent surge in cases.
“It’s just an honor to represent this incredible city,” Arreguín said at the event. “This year has been one of the most challenging times in the history of our city, but I’ve just been so amazed at how our community has really risen to the occasion.”
During the ceremony, Arreguín stated his intent for the coming term and what he hopes to accomplish, specifying that COVID-19 is his highest priority as it is both a public health and a financial emergency. He said he will continue to address the climate crisis and ensure people have access to affordable housing.
To live up to the city’s commitment to equity, Arreguín added that he will address homelessness and ensure everyone has the same opportunity to succeed.
After Arreguín was sworn into office, Bartlett echoed some of the issues he addressed.
“We’re confronted with so many things that threaten our future,” Bartlett said during the event. “From poverty to global warming, inequities, racism, but we know that in Berkeley, we have a long tradition of leveraging democracy to create change, and that is a tradition that we embrace full-heartedly.”
Councilmember Rigel Robinson expressed his support for the mayor and council members, noting that they will be making history amid a difficult time. Robinson said in an email that the next few years, particularly the city’s response to COVID-19, will be very important.
Recognizing these challenges, Taplin said he is confident the city can address these issues with the help of its citizens and their passion. He added that becoming a council member is the honor of his life.
As the pandemic continues, Hahn emphasized the importance of ensuring Berkeley hospitals run safely, which she said she will focus on next year.
Hahn added that she wore pearls to the ceremony in honor of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to represent the advancement of women in politics, further expressing optimism about the direction of government.
“It’s a very positive time in the country and here locally as well,” Hahn said. “We are lucky to have a government that really cares about people and elected officials that share our democratic and progressive values at every level of government.”