District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: Jesse Arreguin

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:42:00 AM

For 16 years, Dona Spring provided visionary leadership for the residents of District 4 and the entire city. Dona was an incredibly courageous person who, despite many personal challenges, devoted her life to serving the community. She was also on the cutting edge of many issues and worked successfully to pass groundbreaking legislation that has made Berkeley a model for other communities. She was also a tireless advocate for numerous progressive causes and was never afraid to stand up for what was right, even when she was the only one doing it. She was also an effective representative, helping each constituent get their questions answered or their problems solved.  

Dona was a friend of mine. While I am still filled with immense sadness over her passing, I have decided to run with the support of her family and friends to serve the last two years of her term. I am running because I feel that it is important that someone with Dona's values continue her work on the Council. If elected, I will continue her legacy of fighting for progressive change.  

From an early age, I have been passionately committed to social activism. As the son and grandson of farm workers, I committed myself to educating others about the legacy of Cesar Chavez. My first political speech was in 1994 urging the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to name a street in honor of Chavez. After months of work, the Board decided to rename Army Street after Chavez. I was honored to later unveil the first street sign. I have also worked on numerous progressive causes from the campaign against Proposition 209, to fighting for workers rights.  

I attended UC Berkeley and during my time at Cal, I worked with the ASUC (student government) in lobbying city officials on housing and transportation issues. I served on the Chancellor's Joint Oversight Committee on Parking and Transportation and worked to establish the University's faculty and staff transit pass.  

As someone who has been evicted several times, I know how vulnerable tenants are in losing their homes and as a community activist I have fought for more affordable housing. As a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, I have worked to get hundreds of new affordable units built and as the Chair of the elected Rent Board, I have worked to expand tenant protections and keep rents affordable. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, working families are being priced out of our city. We need to create affordable housing for all people and make sure that no one is priced out of our community.  

In 2005, I was appointed to the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) and over the next two years, I worked to develop a coalition of members representing diverse opinions on development and transportation issues to create a consensus plan which presents a new vision for Downtown Berkeley. Towards the end of the process my primary opponent was appointed to the DAPAC. When the time came for the final vote on the plan, my opponent did not vote to support the final Plan. The Plan was adopted on a 17-4 vote.  

As a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, I have reviewed hundreds of projects and have supported new development along our corridors but have worked to find common ground between the concerns of neighbors and the need for new housing. I have fought to get more affordable housing in new projects, often unsuccessfully. 

As an aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, I have not only developed progressive public policy but helped hundreds of constituents get their problems solved by our city government. I know how the city works and I will use my experience to continue the legacy of accessible and accountable representation that Dona Spring provided.  

I am running to bring new energy and ideas to the City Council. I will continue Dona's legacy of promoting visionary solutions to our common problems. I will not only continue to make Berkeley a leader in solving our global climate change crisis, but I will also work to protect and enhance our environment and create affordable workforce housing for all types of people.  

I will also continue my work on improving the Downtown and also work to make University Avenue a vibrant commercial district. The plan that the DAPAC developed is not a “pipe-dream” but is a forward thinking plan which will result in a dramatic and positive transformation of our Downtown. We need more housing, an improved retail environment, walkable streets, improved transit and more green space and open space. We can have all these things, but we need the leadership to make them become a reality.  

I will also work to improve the safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods. I will work to not only improve traffic and parking in our neighborhoods but make sure that we get increased funding for neighborhood watch programs and disaster preparedness. We also need to address the rise in violent crime and look at moving toward a community involved policing model, like other cities have done.  

I have a proven track record of bringing diverse groups together to solve common problems. You can count on me to work towards consensus, but to also stand up for what is right when necessary. My experience and vision for our community has earned me the sole endorsement of the Sierra Club, Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA), the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats of the East Bay, the East Bay Young Democrats and the Cal Berkeley Democrats.  

I have also been endorsed by the Alameda County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; the Berkeley Firefighters Association; the John George Democratic Club; Councilmembers Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington; School Board President John Selawsky and hundreds of neighbors and community leaders. 

Please join us in creating a greener and brighter future for Berkeley. For more information please visit my website at or contact my campaign at 848-8745 or by email at