This election season, more than ever, is an important time to make our voices heard as a community. In the midst of extremist political pressure and partisan debate, it can be easy to feel hopeless about our impact on government — which is why it is especially important to vote in local elections as well as national ones. At stake is the future of your city, your county and your state. Each vote genuinely makes a difference in the outcome of a given election. Every election season, the editorial board of The Daily Californian comes together to endorse one candidate for every open position in city and local races, and to advise a vote on city measures. Each selected candidate has been chosen for their commitment to the city and their constituents, as well as their responses to interviews with the editorial board. The following endorsements represent the majority opinion of the editorial board, as written by Sebastian Cahill, the head opinion editor.
Vote for Jenny Wong
Jenny Wong, the incumbent for city auditor, is running again to represent the city and continue her work. Wong has an impressive amount of experience: In addition to her time as Berkeley’s city auditor, she boasts nearly 20 years of experience as a Congressional auditor, making her the best person to do the job. A community resident, Wong’s goals to bring independent and progressive values to the position have served her well in her current term. She identified top issues of her constituents, such as inadequate street paving and poor pedestrian-safety measures and moved to incorporate those issues into her audits. Keeping audits relevant to city residents is no easy task, but Wong has succeeded because of her unerring commitment to keeping in contact with her fellow Berkeleyans. If elected again, she plans to conduct an audit of the Rent Stabilization Board and the local unhoused community, as well as use her recently created dashboard to keep track of audit recommendations, transparency and accountability.
City Council seats
District 1 — Vote for Rashi Kesarwani
Rashi Kesarwani is running for reelection as Berkeley city councilmember for District 1. If reelected, Kesarwani hopes to focus her attention on reparation of streets and sidewalks and work to continue affordable housing efforts. In her current position, Kesarwani has completed a notable list of accomplishments; in addition to her status as the first South Asian American to serve on the council, she collaborated with statewide and local leaders to help move houseless people living in freeway encampments to safer spaces, partnered with state leaders to lobby for infrastructure repairs at Berkeley’s waterfront and led efforts to use California’s Homekey program to build a housing site in her district. However, Kesarwani voted against a budget referral that proposed sweeping changes to the police force and public safety this past May, apparently due to concerns about the establishment of clear priorities for the money. If elected, we hope to see her commit to efforts in the areas of police reform, focusing less on the police department itself and more on how it treats her constituents.
District 4 — Vote for Kate Harrison
Current Vice Mayor and councilmember for District 4 Kate Harrison is running uncontested for reelection in her district. With a long history of public service, Harrison continues to show that she is up for the challenge of making Berkeley a better place. Harrison recently authored the first legislation in the nation that would attempt to phase out natural gas in newly constructed buildings, established a fund to assist lower-income residents with moving toward more environmentally sustainable living choices and plans to retrofit buildings currently relying on gas in the city. In her upcoming terms, Harrison wants to continue her work with making Berkeley continually progressive in terms of housing and climate justice. Harrison’s collaborations with her fellow councilmembers and city officials, various social justice groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP and the Berkeley Police Department suggest she is still committed to making the reimagination of public safety more tangible and equitable.
District 7 — Vote for Rigel Robinson
Rigel Robinson, the incumbent for District 7’s councilmember seat, is a UC Berkeley alumnus with a history of public service and local leadership. Robinson holds an idealistic vision for Berkeley, hoping it can serve as an example nationwide of what happens in a city holding such progressive values. Despite his idealism, Robinson does have tangible plans to help with change: He wants to rezone the city to allow for more housing to be built, work toward lower emissions by reevaluating the use of cars and making it easier for people without cars to navigate and travel within Berkeley. In his current capacity as a councilmember, Robinson stuck to his promises made during the campaign, introducing legislation funding street repairs, building pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and preventing evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is every reason to believe Robinson will do his best to keep his current work going and accomplish his future goals as well.
District 8 — Vote for Mari Mendonca
Mari Mendonca, a third-generation Berkeley resident, is running for the City Council with the goals of increasing equity, justice and inclusion for other residents, especially those who have been systemically oppressed by racist and classist norms. Though Mendonca’s goals are large, she retains a great deal of solid planning that will help her accomplish them. Her goal of creating affordable housing, for example, includes not only a push to make BART housing units 100% affordable, but also examines how the city defines “affordable housing” as a concept to better and equalize its efforts. Mendonca also wants to support the city’s Police Accountability Board and incorporate diverse community perspectives when making her decisions — all goals well worthy of being pursued and completed within the community.
Rent Stabilization Board
Vote for the Right to Housing Slate for Berkeley Rent Board — Vanessa Danielle Marrero, Soli Alpert, Nathan Mizell, Negeene Mosaed and Ida Martinac
The Right to Housing slate is unquestionably the best group of candidates to keep the board running smoothly and equitably. The candidates have already been approved for the slate by the Berkeley Tenant’s Convention, an event which aims to find board members who support pro-tenant policies and are pro-rent control, therefore suggesting community support for the slate members. Besides that, the candidates share aims that will work to remedy some of Berkeley’s most pressing issues, such as rising rent prices, displacement and gentrification. The group, for example, wants to demand legislature that lowers the prices of housing for students, as well as keep landlords from raising prices of rent, which drives low-income community members out of the city. The diverse group promises not only a wide range of perspectives, but also combined experiences that will contribute to the board’s goals of equity and accessibility. Between this diversity and these goals, the slate seems to have a promising level of expertise and moral compass that will allow it to make Berkeley an easier place to rent and live in.
Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education
Vote for Ka’Dijah Brown, Mike Chang and Jennifer Shanoski
The BUSD board has three open positions this election season — and the best for the job are Ka’Dijah Brown, Michael Chang and Jennifer Shanoski. Brown, the only incumbent among the candidates, is also a sixth grade teacher in Vallejo. She championed the Black Lives Matter resolution, which led to the African American Success Framework and its aims to improve Black student success. Brown’s commitment to prioritizing the needs specifically of Black students and other students of color is a step in the right direction toward resolving the rampant racism that pervades all school districts in the United States. Chang is currently a civil rights attorney and wants to run to increase board accountability. Focused on the prevention of sexual violence, bettering of education for English as a Second Language, or ESL, students and students with disabilities and funding overall teaching services, Chang shows an admirable dedication to working to fix the root causes of problems the district faces, not just addressing their more evident impacts. Finally, Jennifer Shanoski, a chemistry professor and president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, plans to improve the district by focusing on opportunity gaps, especially for Black and brown students. Shanoski plans to use her scientific training to thoroughly evaluate current district programs, their implementation and their impacts on improving student outcomes. Each of these potential board members would bring their focus on bettering student treatment and outcomes to the board, making them ideal for the task of bringing BUSD schools to where they need to be.
District Attorney of Alameda County
Vote for Pamela Price
Pamela Price, though lacking in direct experience as a district attorney, has a long, rich career of using her position as a lawyer to defend civil rights, often defending people against retaliation and discrimination in court. Price ran for election in 2018 as well, but ultimately lost to Nancy O’Malley, who recently announced her retirement. Despite this loss, however, Price received a staggering 42% of the vote and was especially popular in the communities she wants to prioritize — communities of color and those heavily impacted by crime and mass incarceration. Price is especially a good candidate for this reason: She is committed to rectifying the racial disparities that still plague the county, despite its reputation as relatively liberal. Price wants a more transparent and accountable district attorney office that shares data with and provides reports to the public in a timely manner while also preventing internal conflicts of interest that may influence investigation decisions in the office. A vote for Price means a vote toward racial equity and a more just district attorney office, something sorely needed in our community right now.
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District Board of Directors
Vote for Alfred Twu
Alfred Twu, current Berkeley city planning commissioner, artist and activist, is seeking election against Joel Young, the incumbent running for his fourth consecutive term. The position could hold serious weight for the future of the agency, making it more important than ever to pick a candidate who will stay in touch with their constituents’ needs. Twu is perfect for this — his involvement in efforts such as the East Bay Transit Riders Union and East Bay for Everyone shows previous commitment to making public transit an equitable resource for those in the East Bay. His main priorities are also widely agreeable: Two of them are improving AC Transit’s timing and reliability, and ensuring that transit lines that serve low-income communities and communities of color stay intact and affordable. At a time when gas is becoming more expensive, it is essential to pick a leader who understands the necessity of improving public transportation — Twu is most certainly the right person for the job.
East Bay Municipal Utility District Board
Vote for Andy Katz for Director
Andy Katz, who is running unopposed to represent Berkeley again on the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors, is a worker’s rights and environment attorney who wants to continue his previous sustainability efforts on the board. Some of Katz’s past actions include creating an excessive use penalty to prevent water waste during droughts, expanding the East Bay’s ability to turn food waste into renewable energy and expanding the threshold for low-income utility assistance. If elected again, Katz wants to invest further in maintaining water infrastructure in the East Bay, work to keep the San Francisco Bay from pollution and expand elementary and high school educations to include more about sustainable water use, among other things. Katz has thus far been an exemplary board member, and his motivation suggests he will continue to do so if reelected.