Berkeley Progressives Win Big, but Lament Trump Presidency


Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin. - COURTESY JESSE ARREGUIN
  • Courtesy Jesse Arreguin
  • Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin.
Led by mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin, progressives won three of the four Berkeley city council races last night. But for many, the victory was overshadowed by Donald Trump's clinching of the presidency and the apparent certainty of a Republican-controlled Congress.

Arreguin soundly defeated moderate-liberal challenger Laurie Capitelli, walking away with just under 52 percent of the vote.

District Six incumbent Susan Wengraf managed to hang onto her council seat, beating out co-challengers Fred Dodsworth and Isabelle Gaston.

In the wide-open District Three race, Ben Bartlett fended off three other candidates, drawing 56 percent of the vote.

And Sophie Hahn won in District Five.

A final result for District Two is still uncertain, but after three rounds of ranked-choice voting, Cheryl Davila pulled ahead of incumbent Darryl Moore and challenger-slash-ally Nanci Armstrong-Temple. At the time of this writing, the race still hasn’t been called, but in an interview with The Express, Davila said that while it “wasn’t a done deal,” she was cautiously optimistic.

“It’s almost bittersweet because the other election (gave me) a splitting pain in my stomach,” she said about Trump. “But I'm happy about how city council turned out.”

Arreguin and Hahn said they share this sentiment. Though Arreguin said he was “stunned and excited” by the wave of new progressive Berkeley councilmembers, he regrets coming into office in “very sobering times.”

“We have some dark days ahead of us, and Berkeley needs to be a beacon,” the mayor-elect said.

One of his first projects as mayor, he said, will be to assist those living in a South Berkeley homeless encampment across from City Hall — the same encampment where District Two city council candidate Armstrong-Temple was arrested during a protest last week.

Berkeley Progressive Alliance member Kate Harrison said she was “delighted” by the local election, despite unfortunate national trends. Tuesday’s results mean a progressive majority on the city council is all but certain, Harrison said, but she added she doesn’t want to see the race in terms of a progressive-versus-moderate contest.

“I think we’re going to see more thoughtful consideration of community comments and more thoughtful consideration of how to move forward with this town,” she said.