Berkeley’s Rent Board Convention planning committee announced Nathan Mizell as the fifth member of its “progressive, pro-tenant” slate for the city’s Rent Stabilization Board elections this upcoming November.
Mizell was voted onto the slate by “hundred(s) of Berkeleyans” registered in the 2022 Berkeley Tenant Convention. To vote, residents were required to be at least 13 years of age. Voting included college students, undocumented residents and houseless residents, according to a convention press release.
“I believe that housing is a human right and our policies should reflect that in the most concrete way possible,” Mizell said. “We have to work to increase the accessibility of housing.”
The vote was conducted after the removal of one candidate from the convention’s slate was allegedly removed for not residing in Berkeley, according to the press release. Mizell joins the slate with the remaining four candidates: Negeene Mosaed, Soli Alpert, Ida Martinac and Vanessa Danielle Marrero.
According to chair of Berkeley Tenants Union Paola Laverde, the Berkeley Tenants Union endorsed Mizell, who has served as the vice chair of the city’s Police Accountability Board and chair of the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force alongside the rest of the slate. Mizell added that he is also a 2022 graduate of UC Berkeley.
However, Laverde noted in an email that Mizell is not just qualified because of his positions, but also for his advocacy of pro-tenant policies.
“What makes him qualified is that he uses these positions as a platform to advocate for progressive policies in order to improve people’s lives,” Laverde said in the email.
According to Mizell, one of the biggest issues plaguing Berkeley tenants is affordability. He attributed this issue to the city’s “market-based housing system,” which Mizell said is unequipped to meet the needs of city residents.
Alpert, who is running in the slate as the incumbent vice chair of the Rent Stabilization Board, added that instability and unpredictability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation rights have also contributed to Berkeley’s housing crisis. Alpert noted the board has achieved progress but is stymied by city bureaucracy and state law.
“Berkeley is more than a tenant majority — it’s a supermajority,” Alpert said. “There’s a culture sometimes of not protecting tenants because if they don’t own property, their interests are not critical. I think that’s really a problem.”
According to Alpert, the convention slate represents a diverse coalition of organizations, with candidates that have backgrounds in fields including health, public education and police reform.
Mizell said that in the coming months, the slate will discuss how to campaign for the November elections. He noted the slate is placing emphasis on meeting members of the Berkeley community.
“Electing us goes way beyond us as a slate,” Mizell said. “It’s about the priorities of ensuring affordable housing for people in this city, ensuring that folks with regular incomes can live here and ensuring that once they have that housing, they’re suitable for habitation.”