Page One

New: Election Wrap-Up: Arreguin, Progressives Won Big in High Turnout Berkeley Election. (News Analysis)

Rob Wrenn
Saturday December 10, 2016 - 11:27:00 AM

The election of Jesse Arreguin as mayor, along with the election of Ben Bartlett, Cheryl Davila and Sophie Hahn to the City Council, was a major victory for progressives. It restores a progressive majority that split and fell apart as Mayor Tom Bates moved to the center and adopted a more moderate stance over the course of his fourteen years in office.

In an eight candidate race, Jesse defeated his opponent, now former District 5 councilmember Laurie Capitelli, by a 49.1% to 32.1% margin in first choice votes. With ranked choice voting, he crossed the 50% threshold when second choice votes of Naomi Pete, Mike Lee and Bernt Wahl were counted. 

Jesse Arreguin is the fifth person to be elected mayor in Berkeley since municipal elections were moved from April in odd-numbered years and consolidated with the state’s general election in November. The first November mayoral election in Berkeley, in 1982, resulted in the re-election of then mayor Gus Newport. Newport’s successors were Loni Hancock, Shirley Dean and Tom Bates. 

Since 1982, this was only the third mayoral election without an incumbent seeking re-election. Jesse’s margin of victory this year. 17%, was larger than in either of the two previous no-incumbent elections, which took place in 1986 and 1994. 

Arreguin won six of the city’s eight council districts, losing only in District 5, Laurie’s home district, and in District 6, which is made up of the Northside and the Northeast Berkeley hills. Amazingly, Arreguin only lost District 6 by 58 votes, 42.6% to 41.9% 

In some ways, this election was similar to other hotly contested mayoral elections in Berkeley dating back to 1982 or before. The same basic voting pattern can be seen. As in previous elections, the more moderate candidate, in this case Capitelli, did better in the hills than in the flatlands or close to campus, while the more progressive candidate, Arreguin, did better in majority tenant and student areas and in areas with lower median incomes such as South and West Berkeley. 

This pattern can be seen in every mayoral election from 1982 when Gus Newport won re-election over Shirley Dean, to 1994, when Dean defeated Don Jelinek in a runoff, through 2002, when Tom Bates defeated then incumbent mayor Shirley Dean. 

What is different and most startling about this year’s results is Capitelli’s poor performance in the flatlands districts. Capitelli did very poorly in South and West Berkeley, and in student areas. He won only 21.5% of the vote in District 3, which includes the heart of South Berkeley and only 22.8% in District 2, the southwestern part of the city, with precincts on both sides of San Pablo. For West Berkeley as a whole, the area west of San Pablo, he won only 22.7% of the vote. 


Mayoral Elections Berkeley, 1982-2016 













Jesse Arreguin  








Laurie Capitelli  








Kriss Worthington  








Wahl, Gould, Runningwolf, Lee, Pete  









Tom Bates  








Kriss Worthington  








Jac McCormick  








Wahl, Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Runningwolf  









Tom Bates  








Shirley Dean  








Runningwolf, Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Jolly  









Tom Bates  








Zelda Bronstein  








Zachary Runningwolf, Christan Pecaut  









Tom Bates  








Shirley Dean  








John Patrick Boushell  









Shirley Dean  








Don Jelinek  








Robert Krumme, Jon Crowder, Delacour  









Don Jelinek  








Shirley Dean*  








Micahel Delacour, William Anderson  









Loni Hancock*  








Fred Weekes  








Michael Delacour  









Loni Hancock  








Phil Polakoff  








Fernandez, Pete, Delacour, Brenner  









Gus Newport  








Shirley Dean  








Tod Mikuriya, Plunkett, Pete, Greenspan  






  • won December runoff election.
In 1982, local elections were consolidated with November state and national elections; local elections had been in April of odd-numbered years. After 2006, mayoral elections took place in presidential election years. Ranked choice voting began with the 2012 mayoral race 


Votes for Berkeley Mayoral Candidates by Council District 2016 




















District 1  


4311 50.7%  























District 2  


























District 3  


























District 4  


























District 5  


























District 6  


























District 7  


























District 8  
















































































W. Berk 


























Students: results from seven consolidated Southside precincts and one consolidated Northside precinct. These precincts include most UC dorms, a large majority of fraternities and sororities, some student coops, and numerous apartment buildings, a large majority of whose residents are students. This does not include all student voters by any means as students can be found in many other precincts in Berkeley but this includes areas where students are most concentrated 


West Berkeley: all precincts west of San Pablo 

Previous moderate mayoral candidates, like Shirley Dean and Fred Weekes, have lost Districts 1, 2 and 3, but never with such a poor showing. In the past, the more moderate candidate could expect to get at least a third of the vote in District 3 and a higher percentage in Districts 1 and 2, which have a higher percentage of homeowner voters. Shirley Dean even won Districts 1 and 2 by small margins when she first ran for re-election in 1998. 

In District 7, the student supermajority district south of the UC campus, Capitelli won only 13.6%. In eight of the most heavily student precincts, seven of them north of Dwight on the Southside and one in the Northside, precincts with dorms, coops, fraternities, sororities, and apartment buildings with few non-student tenants, he got only 9.8%, while Arreguin got 65.2%. Students have always favored more progressive candidates but never by margins like these. No major candidate for mayor since 1982 has ever gotten so small a percentage of the student vote. 

Sanders Endorsement Helped 

Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Arreguin is one reason for his huge margin over Capitelli among student voters. In the same eight student precincts, Sanders won 78.8% of the vote in the June California presidential primary. 

71 of the 72 precincts that voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary voted for Arreguin over Capitelli in November. In addition, Arreguin won 3 of the 31 precincts that went for Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders won Berkeley with 54.4% of the vote to 45.2% for Clinton in June, with few students casting votes as the semester had ended. Had the election taken place before the end of the semester, Sander’s margin would certainly have been larger. 

There were Bernie supporters who backed Capitelli, councilmember Linda Maio being one example, but certainly most of Bernie’s supporters in Berkeley supported Arreguin. The two candidates both appealed to younger voters in particular. 

The division in the Democratic Party between more moderate Democrats like Clinton and more progressive Democrats like Sanders is the same kind of division that’s found in Berkeley which is a Democratic Party stronghold, where a very large majority votes Democratic in state and national races and where the vast majority are left of center by national standards. But while Berkeley is united in its dislike of Trump, who only got 3.2% of the vote here, it is still divided between progressive and less progressive or more moderate Democrats, with the city’s small minority of Green Party members lining up on the progressive side. 

In Berkeley, relative moderation tends to correlate with income. The city’s wealthier neighborhoods such as the hills above Claremont Ave in District 8 and the Northeast Berkeley hills in District 6 are the most consistently moderate in their voting behavior. District 5 north of Eunice and Hopkins, including areas like Thousand Oaks, where median homeowner household incomes are well above $100,000 a year are also in the moderate camp. In districts 1, 2 and 3, homeowners have more modest incomes, and there are substantial tenant populations, especially in District 3. These areas favor progressive candidates by and large. Districts 4 and 7 have large tenant majorities, with lots of students and younger voters especially in District 7. They have been reliably progressive and have been represented by council members from the progressive end of the spectrum since election of council members by districts began in 1986. 

A High Turnout Election 

Beyond the Sanders endorsement, another contributing factor to Arreguin’s 17% margin over Capitelli was high turnout. This year, 65,430 ballots were cast in Berkeley, a 78.1% turnout of registered voters; in 2012, it was 60,559 ballots cast and a turnout of 73.7%. Turnout was also way up compared to the 2014 gubernatorial election when only 40,301 votes were cast here; a 50.4% turnout of registered voters. Higher turnout elections generally mean more tenant, lower income, and student voters. In District 3, which comprises South Berkeley and part of the LeConte neighborhood east of Shattuck, this year a total of 7627 votes were cast for mayoral candidates, up from 5763 in 2012. Some of this may be due to changes in district boundaries resulting from redistricting after the 2012 election, and to population growth, but most of it results from higher turnout and greater interest in the mayoral election. Blank voting, voting for no one for mayor, was down substantially. 

This is the first mayoral election without an incumbent in the race since mayoral elections were moved to presidential election years. Between 1982 and 2006, the largest number of votes cast for mayoral candidates, was 48,407 in 1982. This year almost 59,000 votes were cast for mayor. This larger electorate is good for progressives. 

Student turnout this year was relatively low, with only 4,898 ballots cast in District 7, the student supermajority district, while ballots cast in other districts ranged from 7089 in District 4 (downtown and central Berkeley which also has a substantial student population) to 10,497 in District 5. Nonetheless student turnout this November was much higher than in the June primary, when many students had left for the summer and much higher than in 2014, with no presidential election. In District 7, turnout was 1,812 in the June primary, and 1,805 in 2014. Turnout was also higher in core student precincts than in 2012. 

Turnout was also higher in District 5, which Laurie Capitelli represented on the City Council for 12 years. But in District 5, where in the past a moderate candidate could expect to win big, Capitelli this year only beat Arreguin by 49% to 40% margin, with Jesse winning the area south of Eunice and southeast of King Middle School. Arreguin’s vote margin in District 3, his best district, was 2621 votes, a lot more than the 878 votes by which Capitelli carried his home district. A precinct added to District 5 as a result of redistricting had previously been in District 4; Arreguin had won this precinct in his last contested Council race. 


The Other Candidates 

Kriss Worthington, who has represented District 7 on the Council for 20 years, also ran for mayor. He didn’t do much campaigning, and sent out no mailers, but participated in candidate forums, and ran some ads in the Daily Californian in the final days of the campaign. In his ads and at public events he called on voters to use ranked choice to vote for both him and Arreguin. He won 8% of the vote, doing best in District 2, where he got 11.6%, and worst in District 5, he got only 5%. 


Finishing fourth with 2.9% of the vote was Ben Gould, a UC graduate student, who is now running for the District 4 seat vacated by Jesse Arreguin. Gould concentrated his campaigning in District 4, where he won 4.6% of first choice votes. Other candidates were Bernt Wahl, Zachary Running Wolf and Naomi Pete, all of whom have run before and Mike Lee, “the Old Bum for Mayor”, a homeless activist involved in homeless encampments in Berkeley. Together the bottom five candidates won 10.7% of the vote. 

These five did best in Districts 4 and 7 where they totaled respectively 14.2% and 15.5% of the vote. The Daily Californian ran front page profiles of all the mayoral candidates and this publicity may have contributed to their relatively strong showing in precincts with a lot of students. By contrast, in District 5, only 5.9% voted for one of the bottom five. 

While there have always been minor candidates in Berkeley mayoral elections, ranked choice voting seems to encourage more people to run. There were 6 candidates in 2012, the first mayoral election with ranked choice and 8 candidates this year, the largest number to run for mayor in at least the last four decades. 

As far as their second choices, most people who voted for the bottom five candidates, did not vote for either Arreguin or Capitelli as their second choice; their votes went to one of the other candidates or they didn’t give a second choice. It seems that a lot of people who voted for minor candidates didn’t like the choice of Arreguin and Capitelli. Of those who did choose one of the two major candidates, more favored Arreguin than Capitelli. Kriss Worthington’s second choice votes never had to be revealed at any stage of the vote count, so who got his second choice votes is not available, though it seems reasonable to assume that Arreguin would have got most of them. 

Why Did Jesse Win? 

This analysis is mostly about where Jesse won his votes and how this election compares to previous elections. I’ve suggested that the Bernie endorsement and high turnout played a role. 

No surveys or exit polls were done, to my knowledge, to ask voters about their reasons for choosing Jesse or Laurie. 

The City did do a survey in March of this year to assess whether voters would support various ballots measures then under consideration. The survey found that affordable housing was the number one issue that people in Berkeley were most concerned about. In this survey, 64% said they thought that things in Berkeley were going in the right direction, while only 19% said things were on the wrong track. In national surveys, wrong track has been getting 60% of more. 

Even if most Berkeley voters have a generally positive view of their city and think that the city does a good job providing services, there was evidently some dissatisfaction with the way that things were going. A mayoral candidate from the Council majority with the support of a majority of his fellow councilmembers was defeated by a member of the Council minority, and defeated by a historically large margin. 

One other group that did surveys in this election year was the Berkeley Property Owners Association sponsored group that supported Measure DD and opposed Measure U1, the measure that increase the business license tax on larger landlords to fund affordable housing. 

In a message sent out by e-mail, Berkeley Property Owners Association president Sid Lakireddy stated that “our polling research showed that the electorate was really ticked off by new development in Berkeley. In fact, that number was around 72 percent.” Their polling led to the many anti-U1 mailers that stressed that U1 exempted newly developed housing from the tax increase for a dozen years after occupancy. As Lakireddy goes on to say: “The goal was to associate Measure U1 with new development in the minds of the voter.” But widespread concern about affordable housing identified in the city’s survey and support for funding for affordable housing prevailed over any concern about a temporary exemption for developers. 

While new housing development in downtown and on commercial streets has been happening in Berkeley since the late 1990s, the pace and scale of development has increased in recent years. Rents being charged for new market rate units in these housing developments have also risen, with one recently completed building asking $4400 or $4600 for two-bedroom units on their Web site. New development has also been impacting local small businesses with some, like University Ace Hardware, being forced to find new locations. There seems to also be growing concern about displacement of lower and middle income people, a concern reflected in the formation of Friends of Adeline in South Berkeley. 

It’s not surprising that voters with concerns about the impacts, and doubts about the benefits, of all this new development would favor Arreguin over Capitelli. This development has largely been taking place in traditionally progressive council districts, though with proposals for demolition and new development on Holy Hill, development is now an issue for District 6 residents as well. It would be a mistake, though, to conclude that most Berkeley voters are no-growth supporters, who don’t want more development. It’s more a question of what kind of development and for whose benefit. 

Other factors that played a role in Jesse Arreguin’s electoral victory: 


  • Jesse Arreguin raised over $110,000, which, while it was less than the $140,000+ raised by Capitelli, was enough to enable to him to communicate his message and endorsements to voters.
  • Independent expenditures by the National Association of Realtors Fund in support of Laurie Capitelli , that totaled over $71,000, probably did him more harm than good with the suggestion of special interest support.
  • The Arreguin campaign was a grassroots campaign with lots of voter contact via knocking on doors, and phone calls. It also made use of mailers and social media. The level of campaign activity and voter contact was vastly higher than in any recent election. You would have to go back to 2002 or earlier to find an election with such high volume of campaign activity.
  • In addition to Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, Jesse Arreguin secured a wide array of endorsements that probably helped to overcome some voters’ concern about his relative youth. He was supported by the Sierra Club, by most Democratic Party clubs as well as by Alameda County Democratic Party, by most labor unions, by student groups, by local media such as the East Bay Express, known for its coverage of housing issues, by the Daily Cal and, as a second choice after Kriss Worthignton, by the East Bay Times. He was also endorsed by two of the mayors who have served Berkeley since 1980, Gus Newport and Shirley Dean. It was a major coup for Capitelli to win the endorsement of Robert Reich, a popular figure in Berkeley. He also benefited from the endorsement of Nancy Skinner, who won 69% of the vote in Berkeley in her successful campaign for the 9th District State Senate seat being vacated by Loni Hancock, who also supported Capitelli. Interestingly, incumbent Mayor Tom Bates’s support for Capitelli was not emphasized in Capitelli’s mailers.

Campaign Contributions 2016 Election  


District or Measure  


Candidate or Position  


Total contributions  

























































Disrict 2  
























District 3  






























District 5  


















District 6  
























Rent Board  


CALI Slate tot.  






Fair Berk tot.  























Source: compiled from forms filed by candidates here: 

Total Contributions are amounts reported through Dec 31, 2015, 

if any; plus amounts reported through Oct 22, 2016; plus amounts 

reported after Oct 22 on Form 497 contribution reports, if any. 

Ben Bartlett loaned himself $10,000; 

Al Murray loaned himself $20,000. 





Independent Expenditures Berkeley November Election 2016 


Independent Expenditure Committee  



Supporting or Opposing 





National Association of Realtors Fund Support  


Laurie Capitelli  

Darrry Moore 

Stephen Murphy 

Susan Wengraf 










Berkeley Police Association  



Laurie Capitelli  

Stephen Murphy 








Berkeley Working Families  


SEIU Local 1021 primary source of contributions for this committee. 





Jesse Arreguin  

Kriss Worthington 

Ben Bartlett 

Leah Simon Weisberg 

Christina Murphy 

Alejandro Soto-Vigil 

Igor Tregub 

Laurie Capitelli 














Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition  




Judy Hunt, Nate Wollman  

Judy Hunt, Nate Wollman 

Sent mailer 11/2 




not reported 


Berkeley Firefighters Association Local 1227  


Susan Wengraf  

Sent mailer 



not reported 




NOTE: there were mailings by the Firefighters and by the Berkeley Rentai Housing Coalition that reported on the City’s Mass Mailing Index and received by voters but not reported with the other independent expenditure filings. Mass Mailing Index here: 


Everyone’s a Progressive 

People are always pointing out that by national standards almost everyone in Berkeley is on the left end of the political spectrum; we could all be considered liberals and progressives. The City’s March Community Survey found that 34% of respondents considered themselves, “in terms of local politics”, to be progressive, while 34% considered themselves to be liberal, and only 22% responded “moderate”. 

This year both major candidates were calling themselves progressive, with Laurie Capitelli talking about his “progressive leadership” in mailers and the Berkeley Democratic Club, even though it couldn’t bring itself to endorse Measures U1 and X1, talking about “progressive results”. 

Jesse Arreguin was criticized by opponents for presenting information online that compared his record to Laurie Capitelli’s on issues like the minimum wage and affordable housing. This was seen as negative campaigning. Yet these differences, which parallel differences between Clinton and Sanders at the national level, are important. Take the minimum wage. Just as Sanders made raising the minimum wage to $15 a key issue in his campaign from the beginning, while Clinton took a more moderate position at least until the Democratic Convention, so in Berkeley, Arreguin led on the minimum wage and Capitelli joined in voting for a $15 wage only at the last minute when it was too late to remove competing minimum wage measures from the ballot. There were also real differences in willingness to use city funds for affordable housing even if both candidates agreed that affordable housing was important. 


City Council 

District 2 

The biggest surprise in this year’s local election was the defeat of three term incumbent Darryl Moore in District 2 in Southwest Berkeley. Moore finished first with 39.7% of first choice votes. Challenger Cheryl Davila, who had been Moore’s appointee on the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission, came in second with 31.0%, followed by community activist Nanci Armstrong-Temple with 29.3%. When Armstrong-Temple’s second choice votes were allocated, 59% were for Davila and 21% for Moore, with 19% making no second choice. This brought Davila up to 51%. 

Nanci Armstrong-Temple had actively encouraged her supporters to cast the second vote for Davila. She had also given Davila a campaign contribution of $50. Some supporters campaigning door to door in District 2 urged voters to “vote for the two women.” 

Darryl Moore was only the third incumbent to lose a City Council election since district elections were approved by the voters in 1986. The last time was in 1996, when District 2 incumbent Mary Wainwright lost to Margaret Breland and when District 7 incumbent Carla Woodworth lost to Kriss Worthington. 

Moore won a plurality of the first choice vote in all the precincts east of San Pablo, but lost to Davila in two precincts west of San Pablo, one of which was Davila’s own precinct, which she won 48% to 31%. 

Moore was endorsed by the Sierra Club, by the county Democratic Party and by labor unions and by five other City Council members. He reported campaign contributions of $33,674, which included $2500 from labor union PACs, and also included contributions from developers, such as Richard Robbins of Wareham Development and Patrick Kennedy, and contributions from landlords connected with the BPOA, despite his support for Measure U1, which the BPOA was strongly against. The money he raised helped to pay for two mailers. 

By contrast, Cheryl Davila reported raising $12,977 and Nanci Armstrong-Temple $10,182. Neither reported sending out mailers but relied on signs, door to door campaigning, and e-mail. The National Association of Realtors Fund also spent money for Moore, but as with other candidates they supported, these independent expenditures probably did him more harm than good. Both Davila and Armstrong-Temple were endorsed by former mayor Gus Newport and Council member Max Anderson. Armstrong-Temple was also supported by the Berkeley Tenants Union, Berkeley Citizens Action and the Berkeley Progressive Alliance. 

District 3 

Ben Bartlett won with 57.1% of the vote, followed by Deborah Matthews with 20.8% and Mark Coplan with 20.3%. A fourth candidate, Al Murray, received 1.8% of the vote. Bartlett won a majority of the vote in every precinct. His vote was lowest in Mark Coplan’s home precinct in LeConte where it was 50.3% for Bartlett and 33.9% for Coplan. Bartlett’s best precincts were also in the LeConte portion of the district east of Shattuck. The precinct bordering Shattuck, where neighbors have been fighting Doten Honda’s planned move to the old Berkeley Bowl/Any Mountain site, gave him 65.7% of the vote. And he won, with 62.3%, the one precinct with a sizable proportion of Cal students, located in the northeast corner of the district. 

Bartlett raised the most money, reporting $39,107 in contributions, followed by Matthews with $25,292 and Coplan with $10,865. Bartlett loaned himself $10,000. Both Bartlett and Matthews sent out mailers. Instead of expensive conventional yard signs Coplan had supporters display distinctive pennants, and Coplan himself knocked on a lot of doors. 

Matthews was endorsed by Laurie Capitelli, an endorsement of questionable value given how poorly Capitelli did in District 3. While she did better than Capitelli in 3 precincts, for the District as a whole she got 1478 votes compared to 1639 for Capitelli. She also had the support of Councilmembers Moore and Wengraf and of the politically moderate Berkeley Democratic Club. 

Bartlett was endorsed by outgoing council member Max Anderson who had represented the district for 12 years. He also had the endorsement of council members Arreguin, Worthington, Moore and Droste, making him the only Council candidate to get endorsements from members of both the old Council majority and old Council minority. Bartlett also had a wide array of organizational endorsements including the Sierra Club and Friends of Adeline, a group that Bartlett was active in which was formed when the City initiated the Adeline Corridor planning process. He was one of the council candidates endorsed by the Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Berkeley Citizens Action and the Berkeley Tenants Union at a joint endorsement meeting in April. The other council candidate endorsed by those groups that won this year was Sophie Hahn. 


District 5 

Sophie Hahn was elected by a 62.4%-37.6% over Stephen Murphy, a planning commissioner, who had the backing of outgoing District 5 City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli. This was Hahn’s third try for the District 5 Council seat. She lost to Laurie Capitelli by a 52%-48% margin in 2008 and by 54% to 46% in 2012. This year Hahn swept the district winning every precinct. She did particularly well in her own precinct and in precincts in the southern part of the district; one precinct in that area had previously been in District 4 until redistricting in 2014. 

She also ran ahead of mayoral candidate Capitelli, receiving 5810 votes, while Capitelli got 4771 votes from District 5 voters in the mayoral race. The backing she received from progressives, including Jesse Arreguin, did not seem to do her any harm in this historically moderate-voting council district. Capitelli’s backing of Murphy did not seem to do him a lot of good as he received only 3495 votes. 

The District 5 race was this year’s most expensive council race. Sophie Hahn’s campaign committee raised $73,225, which is the second largest amount ever raised by a Council candidate in Berkeley, exceeded only by George Beier, who raised and spent over $100,000, much of it his own money, in his unsuccessful attempt to defeat Kriss Worthington in District 7 in 2006. Hahn was able to send out a dozen mailers. 

Stephen Murphy had fewer donors and his committee raised $48,954. The Berkeley Police Association and the National Association of Realtors Fund together made independent expenditures totaling over $34,000 in support of Murphy, so total money in support of his candidacy came to about $83,000. As with Capitelli, the independent expenditures may have done more harm than good. About $8000 of the Berkeley Police Association PAC money came from developers, including West Berkeley Investors LLC, which gave $6000 and individual developers like Patrick Kennedy, who gave $1000, which is more than the $250 he was able to give directly to candidate Murphy’s own committee. 

District 6 

Incumbent Susan Wengraf was re-elected with 58.3% of the vote, defeating Fred Dodworth, who got 29.1% and Isabelle Gaston, president of the Northeast Berkeley Association, who got 12.4% Dodsworth won one precinct, the main student precinct in the southern part of the district near campus that includes student coops and the Foothill dorm, and topped 40% in two other Northside precincts. Susan Wengraf won the Northeast Berkeley hills precincts by large margins. 

Wengraf ran well ahead of Capitelli in the District, winning 4344, while Capitelli won 3364 votes for mayor there. Fred Dodsworth knocked on a lot of doors. He was endorsed by progressive groups and elected officials, the kind of endorsements that have historically not carried much weight in District 6. Isabelle Gaston sent a series of small mailers that called into question Susan Wengraf’s record on budget issues and that called for fiscally responsible leadership. 

Susan Wengraf raised over $48,000, a bit more than double what her two opponents together raised. The National Association of Realtors Fund and the Berkeley Firefighthers’ union both made independent expenditures to support Wengraf, adding to her financial advantage. The amount spent by the Firefighters has not been reported on the City’s Web site. 

Rent Board 

The CALI slate, backed by progressives, easily defeated the FAIR Berkeley slate backed by the Berkeley Property Owners Association’s Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition. There were 115,980 total votes for the four CALI slate members, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon Weisberg, Christina Murphy and Igor Tregub. There were 34,386 total votes for the two FAIR Berkeley slate members, Judy Hunt and Nate Wollman. The CALI slate swept 84 of 108 precincts and swept seven of eight Council districts; Judy Hunt finished fourth in District 6, the only district not swept by the CALI slate. Hunt and Wollman finished first and second only in two precincts, one in the northeast Berkeley hills, the other in the hills above Claremont Ave. 

The CALI slate was, like Jesse Arreguin, endorsed by Bernie Sanders and that no doubt helped to boost their vote total. Igor Tregub, who lost his seat on the Rent Board to Judy Hunt in 2012, got 25,991 votes this year, up from 16,659 in 2012. Judy Hunt’s vote also increased from17,930 in 2012 to 20,721 this year, but that left her more than 5000 votes behind Tregub, who finished fourth on the CALI slate. While there were only six candidates for four seats on the ballot this year, down from eight candidates in 2012, undervoting this year was down. The average voter cast 2.3 votes up from an average of 2.1 votes in 2012. Failure to field a full slate of candidates no doubt contributed to the margin of defeat of the landlord-backed slate, but Judy Hunt was only supported by 32% of those who cast ballots and it’s doubtful that any additional slate members would have been able to do much better. 

The CALI slate’s win is impressive when you consider that they raised only $30,536 and did no citywide mailing. The opposing slate members also raised relatively little. The Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition spent an unknown amount on a citywide mailer for Hunt and Wollman, but it was sent out in the last week of the campaign, when many had already voted by mail. Hunt and Wollman were also endorsed by the Berkeley Democratic Club which also endorsed Christina Murphy and all three were included in the Club’s citywide mailers. Murphy, who won 39,406 votes citywide, finished first in Districts 5 and 6 and the BDC endorsement no doubt was a factor. 

Citywide, the BDC endorsement didn’t help much this year. All their endorsed candidates for Berkeley offices were defeated except for Murphy, Susan Wengraf and the two incumbent school board candidates who did not face significant opposition and who were also endorsed by progressives on the Council. The BDC failed to take a position on progressive local measures U1 and X1. This election saw the emergence of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, which backed Sanders in the June primary, as the city’s most active and influential Democratic club. 

Alejandro Soto Vigil finished first with 30,297 votes and was the top vote getter in Districts 1,3,4, and 7. Leah Simon Weisberg was a close second with 30,286 votes, and finished first in Districts 2 and 8. 

Local Ballot Measures 

The only real contested measures on this year’s ballot were Measures U1 and DD. No ballot arguments were filed against Measures AA, E1, T1, V1, W1, X1, and Z1, and all passed easily. X1, which establishes public financing for future Mayoral and Council elections, passed with 65% of the vote. Its limits on contributions will mean less expensive Council races in the future. Identical ballot arguments were made against Measures BB and CC, the two minimum wage initiatives, after proponents of both measures reached a compromise that led to the Council’s adoption of a $15 minimum wage effective in 2018 along with sick leave. Both measures, nonetheless, got about a little over one-third of the vote. Passage of W1 means that after the next Census, redistricting of City Council district boundaries will be done by an independent commission. Passage of AA means that owner move-in evictions of families with school age children cannot take place during the academic year. Passage of Y1 gives the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in future school board elections. 

U1 and DD 

$984,000 was raised by two organizations sponsored by the Berkeley Property Owners Association, which represents the city’s larger landlords. Almost all the money came from large landlords and real estate investors. It was used to both oppose Measure U1, which will raise the business license tax on landlords with five or more units, and to get an alternative measure, DD, which would have enacted a smaller increase in the tax without the exemptions in U1, on the ballot. Money was spent for signature gatherers, polls, lawyers, various campaign consultants, signs, mailers, and doorhangers. These organizations reported making a record 14 mailings to voters. The high volume of mail, the absence of endorsements by elected officials and groups, and the amount of money spent helped arouse suspicions about their campaign against U1. As Big Soda learned in 2014 when it unsuccessfully tried to defeat the soda tax measure, visibly spending a lot of money can backfire and heavy spending against a Council-endorsed measure can become an issue. U1 was unanimously endorsed by the City Council and only one elected official, Judy Hunt, who lost her bid for reelection to the Rent Board, endorsed the alternative measure, DD. 


Tax Measures 

Berkeley voters were in a generous mood this year and approved both renewal of the parcel tax for schools at a higher rate, and new infrastructure bonds by big margins. The School tax, Measure E1, finished with 88.9% of the vote, a record high level of support for a local tax. Ten years earlier, the tax, originally adopted in 1986 to address the impact of Prop 13, passed with 79.7% of the vote. Measure T1, the bond measure for infrastructure garnered 86.6% support. No ballot argument was submitted in opposition to either measure. 

Berkeley voters also voted 86.7% to 13.3% for the Alameda County Affordable Housing bond which passed countywide by 73% to 27%. 91.4% of Berkeley voters voted for the AC Transit parcel tax and 88.0% favored the BART bonds.