Berkeley has a new mayor, the youngest and the first Latino to preside over the famously liberal city, which, according to the last Census, is 60 percent white.
Jesse Arregian, 32, replaces outgoing Tom Bates, who is retiring after nearly four decades of public service including 14 years as Berkeley’s mayor.
"Most political insiders said we had no chance," Arreguin said Tuesday night to his campaign volunteers before he had officially taken home 51 percent of the vote."This is a testament to the power of the people. And to Berkeley, once again being a leader in progressive reforms."
In a speech that was captured on Facebook Live, Arreguin said he would continue to fight for: "Equity and social justice, which is threatened by rising housing costs, climate crisis, and the closing of our emergency room."
On his candidate's biography, Arreguin said his top priorities are expanding affordable housing and raising the minimum wage, finding smart solutions for homelessness and strengthening the public schools.
Arreguin is a self-described progressive and has been a council member since 2008. He said raised about $150,000 to beat eight other candidates including the other top contender, Laurie Capitelli, for the post.
He was the first Latino elected to the council in a city that is 10 percent Hispanic and he is the youngest councilmember in Berkeley history. Arreguin is the son and grandson of farm workers and has long been a champion of social justice. When he was 9, he worked to rename Army Street in San Francisco after his hero, Cesar Chavez.
Arreguín was endorsed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party, the East Bay Express, and the Sierra Club, where he had been on the board of the local chapter.
He is a political science graduate of UC Berkeley.