Berkeley Mayor, Councilmembers Sworn in at Private Ceremony--
Says City Will Move to the Left

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday December 01, 2016 - 12:30:00 PM

A new political era began in Berkeley today with the swearing in of new Mayor Jesse Arreguin and three new city council members.

In brief comments to an invitation-only audience of more than 100 people at a standing room-only ceremony at City Council chambers, Arreguin, 32, said, "This is a really momentous occasion for Berkeley." 

Referring to the election of Donald Trump as president, Arreguin said, "In light of the national election, Berkeley now more than ever needs to lead to defend the rights and security of all people, including immigrants and Muslims." 

Arreguin said, "We need to lead a movement to change the direction of our country in four years." 

Also sworn in today were new councilmembers Cheryl Davila in District 2, Ben Bartlett in District 3 and Sophie Hahn in District 5. 

Davila's narrow victory over three-term incumbent Darryl Moore and fellow challenger Nanci Armstrong-Temple marked the first time since 1997 that a Berkeley City Council incumbent was defeated. 

Bartlett succeeds Max Anderson, who didn't seek re-election, and Hahn succeeds three-term councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor and didn't seek to retain his council seat. 

Arreguin, who succeeds 14-year incumbent Tom Bates, has represented District 4 for eight years and his victory as mayor means that a special election to replace him must be held on March 7. 

Berkeley has almost always had a liberal government in recent years but the victories by Arreguin and the new councilmembers means that the city will move even further to the left. 

In a short interview after he was sworn in, Arreguin said, "The city will now move in a new direction. As the country moves to the right, Berkeley moves to the left." 

"There are two Berkeleys and there is a housing crisis that's pushing people out," he said. "There has been the construction of lots of luxury housing units but we need to build more affordable housing for working families." 

Arreguin said he will announce the details of a 100-day plan at his first City Council meeting as mayor on Dec. 13, but said his immediate priorities are to address the city's homeless crisis and to fight plans by Sutter Health to close Alta Bates Medical Center by 2030 and merge it with Summit Medical Center in Oakland. 

"Those are problems with a short timeline," he said. 

Among those who attended the ceremony today were former Berkeley mayors Shirley Dean and Gus Newport and former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris. 

Arreguin's parents posed for photos with him after he was sworn in and his mother cried. 

"I wouldn't be here without the loving support of my parents," Arreguin said.