Ida Martinac is running for Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board as a member of the Right to Housing Slate, which focuses on progressive, pro-tenant and grassroots initiatives.
“Our platform is basically protecting and, if possible, expanding tenant protection, including rent control,” Martinac said.
Martinac noted that she personally resonates with the reality of living in rental homes. She spent her childhood and developmental years in a studio apartment with her parents and brother. She also lived in “the projects in New York” and put herself through university and law school before becoming a single mother.
Having moved 11 times since arriving in California in 2003, Martinac said she is aware of the difficulties of finding stable and affordable housing.
“I understand just how damaging the lack of affordable housing is to communities, to families, young people struggling to get on their feet, old people trying to age in place with dignity, disabled people,” Martinac said.
Martinac is currently working as a legal secretary, a union steward for SEIU Local 1000 and a lawyer.
She became inspired to get involved in local politics after coming to the realization that localized engagement is essential to the community, Martinac noted.
“In terms of building community locally, nothing is more important than housing security as a basic foundation,” Martinac said. “Stronger community makes for better survival and thriving under difficult conditions that are upon us.”
Martinac is endorsed by Berkeley Democratic Caucus, California Democrat Renters Council, Latino Young Democrats of the East Bay and SEIU Local 1000.
A large focus of Martinac’s platform is finding a way to make tenants more climate reliant. She noted that as most solar subsidies are geared toward homeowners, it is difficult to make tenants more resilient and sustainable in terms of energy use, forcing them to rely on companies such as PG&E. She added that she would aim to incentivize landlords to install solar panels.
“They are not paying bills so they don’t really have any incentive,” Martinac said. “Now that I have been knocking on so many doors, I see how bad so many windows are, single-pane ancient windows that really don’t insulate at all.”
Martinac is also interested in protecting tenants by spearheading initiatives for multilingual education. She noted that international students who arrive in Berkeley may be particularly susceptible to getting taken advantage of, and she hopes to address that by bridging linguistic barriers.
Working closely with the community is a priority for Martinac. Referring to her belief in making politics a joint effort, Martinac concluded by encouraging people to join the movement and added that no lone individual can stand against the “financial power of the real estate lobby.”