Stefan Elgstrand, legislative aide to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, is running to be a commissioner in the city’s Rent Stabilization Board.
Having announced his campaign in July, Elgstrand’s platform primarily focuses on tenant protections and housing security as he seeks to address the city’s housing crisis.
“I am running on a platform to bring my experience and progressive policies to the rent board,” Elgstrand said.
Elgstrand has extensive experience representing a high-tenant region as a District 4 legislative aide, according to his campaign website. Alongside Arreguín, Elgstrand has contributed to various pieces of tenant legislation over the past few years.
If elected to the board, Elgstrand hopes to continue his current role as a legislative aide while responding to constituents’ needs as an elected official. He noted that the two roles would complement each other with three current rent board members also serving as legislative aides.
Elgstrand noted that in his current role, he has worked closely with the rent board on issues such as the Tenant Protection Ordinance; the ordinance creates remedies for tenants facing landlord coercion. His contributions to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance also helped secure millions of dollars for rental assistance as families struggled to pay their rent, according to Elgstrand.
“During the early stages of the pandemic when everything was shut down, it disproportionately impacted low-income tenants who may have jobs in hospitality or businesses that were most impacted by the pandemic,” Elgstrand said.
Elgstrand noted that out of the five seats available on rent board, only one candidate is an incumbent, offering an opportunity to bring in new perspectives on the future of housing in the city.
According to Elgstrand, the “three Ps” — producing more housing, preserving existing housing and protecting tenants — are necessary in order to properly address the housing crisis in the area. If elected to the board, Elgstrand hopes to address displacement and evictions while promoting comprehensive rental assistance.
“I would work to make sure that the tenants get the protections that they need without being too burdensome on small landlords,” Elgstrand said.
Currently, Elgstrand is endorsed by the Alameda County Democratic Party and by a supermajority of the Berkeley City Council, among other elected officials.
As the only candidate with a supermajority endorsement, Elgstrand believes that this highlights his ability to work with diverse groups to build consensus without compromising values.
Through his campaign, Elgstrand noted that he seeks to build on programs of safe housing while ensuring that tenants know what their rights are.
“I want to do more outreach and work with various community groups to make sure that they have been heard,” Elgstrand said. “I want to make sure that we respond to people’s needs and concerns, whether it’s tenants or small landlords.”