Progressive Slate Takes Rent Board

Amanda Crater of The Daily Californian staff contributed to this report.

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Tenants' rights were championed last night with the sweeping victory of the Rent Stabilization Board slate that pledges to defend affordable housing against large landowners.

Max Anderson, Paul Hogarth, Matthew Siegel and Judy Ann Alberti all won a victory last night, together garnering nearly 87 percent of the vote. The slate, which aims to stop rent hikes and unfair tenant evictions, will work next term to absolve the housing crisis that they say tenants of all ages are increasingly experiencing.

According to Paul Hogarth, the youngest member of the slate and a recent UC Berkeley graduate, one of the goals of the slate is to prevent student evictions.

"Tonight's election shows that Berkeley can still be a place where everyone can afford to live," Hogarth said. "Students will have strong allies in city government. This speaks volumes about the magnitude of the housing crisis in Berkeley. But it's also a message of hope. The community is determined, the community is concerned. I've never experienced anything quite like this."

He added that with the passage of Measure Y, which seeks to protect elderly and low-income tenants, he is very pleased with last night's election results.

He said, however, that it is still very difficult for the rent board to adequately deal with every aspect of the housing crisis. This can be surmounted if rent board officials "keep an ear on what is going on in the community," he said.

"We can't wait for tenants to call us," he said. "People are not aware of the services (that the rent board) provides."

Peggy Schioler, a landlord who also ran for a seat on the board and has lived in Berkeley for more than 52 years, garnered approximately 13.6 percent of total votes, not enough for a place on the board. She declined to comment on the result of the elections.

Anderson, an incumbent who ran on the slate, said that it is critical to protect tenants and the "vulnerable population" in the city, since disabled and elderly residents, as well as students, are often exploited.

"Fairness and diversity have been restated in very dramatic terms and we are very grateful," he said. "We have worked hard - that is why we weren't fearful of the results."

In another race, a local activist and favored incumbent won seats on the Berkeley Board of Education, pledging to address disparities between white and minority students in the city's schools.

Joaquin Rivera, the incumbent, took most of the vote with 41.7 percent. He has stressed his record on fighting to solve the achievement gap and implementing a Reading Recovery Program in Berkeley schools. Rivera graduated from UC Berkeley and teaches chemistry at a community college.

John Selawsky, who partied with the progressives last night, will fill the other open space on the board with 23.3 percent, only 3.6 percent more than Sherri Morton.

"This is really a tribute to grassroots activism and my grassroots supporters," Selawsky said sleepily but earnestly early this morning. "It's not my victory - it's a victory for everyone who's been working on the campaign."

Selawsky, who is chair of the city's Community Environmental Advisory Commission and garnered much of his support from Berkeley's environmentalist community, has been active in the school district for years.

Morton, who stressed the need to end the achievement gap and to add diversity to the school board, was unavailable for comment.


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