Name: Ben Bartlett
Job: Environmental attorney
What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 3
What is the main reason you are running? Berkeley has blessed me and I intend to pay that back and also forward for the next generation. Berkeley is in my DNA. My family has been active here for generations. I am committed to advancing the twin goals of innovation and inclusion. I am an advocate who will make sure that South Berkeley gets its fair share of resources; the Adeline Corridor plan includes the community perspective; and Alta Bates is saved.
Why are you qualified for the position? I have deep experience in policy, advocacy and coalition building. I have served on numerous commissions- Planning, Transportation, Vice Chair of the Zero Waste Commission, the Police Review Commission, and the Loan Administration board. My style of leadership in commissions is creative and consensus based, and will mirror my work on City Council. I have close relationships with the entire city council and senior city staff. This is why our candidacy is endorsed by a majority of the City Council, members of the School Board, the Democratic Party, Berkeley Fire Fighters, the Sierra Club and the Friends of Adeline. I have a track record of successfully mobilizing neighbors in defense of the community. For example, I organized hundreds of young people to demand the re-construction of the South Berkeley (Pittman) Branch library. I also joined my neighbors in successfully reversing inequitable budget cuts to South Berkeley non-profits.
What sets you apart from other candidates? I’m the only attorney in the race. Right now there are no attorneys on the City Council. This is problematic since the job of the Council is to write laws and avoid civic liability. When it comes to housing policy, and preventing displacement, I actually have skin in the game. Close family members of mine have been victims of aggression and displacement. I bring an environmental perspective that will help us meet our climate goals, and my professional background will help to bring high level innovations and economic development to South Berkeley.
How did you end up in Berkeley? In the 1880s my family fled the tyranny of the American South. We settled in Berkeley. Where we found opportunity and inclusion. I was born on Parker street. Now decades later, I still believe that Berkeley is a place of opportunity and inclusion.
What are the three biggest challenges Berkeley faces in the near future?
Housing affordability. The closure of Alta Bates. Climate Resilience.
What are your ideas to solve them?
Housing affordability: To leverage the housing trust fund to back non-profits’ acquisition of buildings where people live and remove the properties from the market. This is light years faster and a fraction of the cost of building new affordable housing.
Alta Bates: We have a number of resources at our disposal. One good move is to permanently zone the area for hospitals. Another is to marshal the region as a whole, and our state officials to keep the hospital open.
Climate resilience: We can change the building codes to require efficiency upgrades at the time of permit renewal. Also we can take the lead on establishing community solar in Alameda County.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? Public wifi: Public wifi is a great mechanism for job creation, health delivery and education. We are unique in that we already have the capability to develop a public broadband system.
How will you be accessible to constituents? My time as a advocate for our community has taught me the value of outreach and communication. None of our successes would have been possible with out the willing ears of the Council. Our campaign has a constituent bill of rights, which among them says constituents have the right to accessibility. My door will be open and I will listen and come to your aid.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $25,000
A final thought? I am honored to be considered by you. Your energies, passions and politics have shaped my life. My intention is to make you proud to call South Berkeley home.