In race for Berkeley Rent Board, tenant slate has fundraising edge

In a race for five open seats on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, three independent candidates hope to crack a list of five that was selected by the Berkeley Tenant Convention.

The pro-tenant slate is pooling its resources, nearly $50,000 in total, to buy ads on behalf of its five candidates, making it the strongest force in the race. A pro-tenant list swept the 2020 rent race against a landlord list backed by property groups. An owner’s slate is not on the ballot this year.

But Stefan Elgstrand, who is running on an independent platform, raised the most money — $15,057 — from any of the eight contestants in the race. Elgstrand, legislative aide to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, is the only candidate who has pulled out of public funding, believing it would be difficult to raise enough money for a race in general with the $60 donation limit.

The other two candidates running independently from the tenant slate, Wendy Saenz Hood and Carole Marasovic, have both opted for public funding and have each raised more than $2,400 as of Oct. 22. They maxed the city’s matching funds for rent board candidates at $8,000, like all but one of the candidates.

Soli Alpert, the sole race holder, is the only candidate on the tenant list to have raised more than $2,000. The other contestants raised between $1,350 and $1,850, plus matching funds.

Unlike in 2020, when the National Association of Realtors and another group tied to a state association for homeowners spent $150,000 on behalf of candidates on the Homeowners List but failed to win a single seat, no independent expenditure was made in this year’s rent. plank race.

This is the first year that rent board candidates have been eligible for the city’s public funding system, which aims to limit the influence of money in Berkeley politics and give candidates with fewer resources a chance to win. Most of the money for the race comes from Berkeley residents who donated $60 or less.

Wendy Saenz Hood, the only nominee approved by the Berkeley Property Owner’s Association, received donations from nearly the entire board of the organization, in addition to donations from real estate agents and property managers.

Elgstrand is financially supported by local elected officials, including Mayor Arreguín, four city council members and lawyers from organizations such as the East Bay Community Law Center and the Eviction Advocacy Center, while Marasovic benefits from input from Board Member Susan Wengraf, Commissioners of the Homeless Services Panel. and a real estate agent.

Former council member Max Anderson donated to all candidates on the tenant list. Many have also received donations from current pro-tenant rent commission commissioners like John Selawsky, James Chang and Paola Laverde. Council member Rigel Robinson donated to Soli Alpert’s campaign.

Stefan Elgstrand (Independent)

Stefan Elgstrand leads the pack of rent control candidates in terms of funds raised. He has $15,057 to spend so far based on donations from 48 donors giving an average of $145.

Almost all of the funds Elgstrand has raised come from the Bay Area, with 57% from Berkeley residents, many of whom are elected officials, lawyers and retirees. The main ZIP code where its donors come from is West Berkeley.

Its donors include Mayor Jesse Arreguín; board members Sophie Hahn, Rigel Robinson, Terry Taplin and Kate Harrison; Marc Janowitz, tenant rights attorney at East Bay Community Law Center; Anne Omura, attorney at the Eviction Defense Center; and Cherilyn Parsons, executive director of the Bay Area Book Festival.

Soli Alpert (Slate of tenants)

Alpert, the sole incumbent in the race, raised $10,558 to spend on his campaign. He capped city matching funds at $8,000, like most other rent commission nominees. The rest comes from 23 donors who contribute no more than $60 each.

All but two of his donations come from Berkeley residents.

Independent candidate Wendy Saenz Hood donated to her campaign, as did Vanessa Marrero, who is running with Alpert as part of the tenants’ union slate.

Other donors include board member Rigel Robinson; rent board commissioners John Selawsky and James Chang; school board principals Ty Alper and Ana Vasudeo; former board member Max Anderson; Alfred Twu, candidate for a seat on the board of directors of AC Transit; and Mike Chang, school board candidate.

Wendy Saenz Hood (Independent)

Saenz Hood has $10,535 to spend on her campaign, including $2,535 she raised from 39 donors who donated no more than $60.

Although she is now a tenant, she ran on a landlord’s list in 2020 and this year is the only candidate approved by the Berkeley Property Owner’s Association. Almost all of the association’s board of directors donated to his campaign.

More than any other contestant, Saenz Hood received contributions from property managers and real estate agents. Donors include Cliff Orloff, CEO of Orloff Property Management, and his wife; Ann Plant, real estate agent with Red Oak Realty, and her husband; and Jonathan Weldon, realtor at Cedar Properties.

All of his donations come from Berkeley residents.

Carole Marasovic (independent)

Marasovic has $10,535 to spend on her campaign, including $2,436 she raised from 56 donors who donated no more than $60.

All but three of its donors are Berkeley residents.

Its donors include Councilor Susan Wengraf; commissioners from the Homeless Services Panel, including Michael DelaGuardia, Alice Feller, Mary Ann Meany, Cameron Johnson and Paul Kealoha-Blake (who is co-owner of the Bay Area Media Center); District 8 City Council candidate Mark Humbert; Reichi Lee, school board candidate; Ira Serkes, realtor at Berkeley Homes; and Alfred Twu, candidate for AC Transit’s board of directors.

Vanessa Danielle Morrero (Slate of tenants)

Morrero has $9,883 to spend on her campaign, including $1,833 she raised from 20 donors who donated no more than $60.

All but three of the people who have contributed to his campaign are Berkeley residents.

His donors include former board member Max Anderson; rent commission commissioners Paola Laverde, Soli Alpert and James Chang; rent commission candidate Negeene Mosaed; and school board director Ana Vasudeo.

Negeene Mosaed (Slate of Tenants)

Morrero has $9,778 to spend on her campaign, including $1,778 she raised from 22 donors who donated no more than $60.

All of those who have donated to his campaign are Berkeley residents. Its highest donor zip code is in downtown Berkeley.

Its donors include rent commissioners Soli Alpert and James Chang, as well as Elana Auerbach, a politically active Berkeley resident who listed her profession as “priestess.”

Nathan Mizell (List of tenants)

Mizell has $9,369 to spend on his campaign, including $1,369 he raised from 14 donors who donated no more than $60.

All but one of his donations come from Berkeley residents.

Rental board commissioners Soli Alpert, James Chang and John Selawsky donated to his campaign, as did Berkeley school board superintendent Ana Vasudeo, former board member Max Anderson, school board nominee Mike Chang and Barnali Ghosh, an advocate for Walk Bike Berkeley and co-leader of the Radical South Asian History Walking Tour in Berkeley.

Ida Martinac (Slate of tenants)

Martinac has $9,286 to spend on her campaign, including $1,684 she raised from 20 donors who donated no more than $60.

All but two of the people who have contributed to his campaign are Berkeley residents.

Its donors include rent board commissioners Paola Laverde, Soli Alpert and James Chang, and former city council member Max Anderson.

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