Op-ed: Cheryl Davila, my mother, is ready to steer Berkeley in the right direction

My mother is Cheryl Davila. Maybe you’ve heard of her. She is running for Berkeley City Council District 2, and she is ready to win and steer our city in a beautiful direction.

As her son, I know how sincere her leadership spirit is. She was always out there working to keep our neighborhood clean and safe. She took it upon herself to pick up trash on our streets, and she recruited me and my sister to join her cleaning the area of paper and bottles and whatever was lying around.

I also saw her break up fights, and I especially remember one day when two big guys were fighting in front of our apartment. She yelled at them out the window and then went down and confronted them on the street. She’s a small woman — not even five feet tall — but she is determined, and they backed off and stopped their fight.

My mother is full of courage. As many of you may or may not know, to be an African- American woman in America requires courage, resilience, self-love and the ability to stay in the fight for one’s dignity and fair treatment. It requires watching out for dishonest people who don’t have your interests at heart.

Cheryl was a good mother to my sister and me. We grew up in a small, rent-controlled apartment in West Berkeley, where we knew our neighbors, and still do. Our neighborhood was so tight that I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without her knowing about it.

Her own personal experience has attuned her to be sensitive to the needs of the vulnerable, and this gave her special insight when she was appointed to the Berkeley Human Welfare and Community Action Commission (HWCAC) in 2009.

I’ve seen her in countless conversations with constituents, really hearing what their concerns are and listening to their complaints about the lack of leadership coming from the incumbent. I’ve seen that people really believe in her.

All of this — her sense of community, her willingness to take responsibility, her commitment to human rights, her kindness and decency and her lack of pretense — give her qualities that are too often missing in many public officials.

But she has even more going for her. She’s committed to the city as a resident of 35 years in the very district she is attempting to represent. She is qualified as a full-charge bookkeeper, so you can count on her to make sure the city budget is well managed and clean.

She advocates for clean air and further climate action, affordable housing, generous and kind treatment for the homeless, support for local businesses, employment for youth, meaningful roles for elders, organized and empowered neighborhoods and a friendly community police force that we can know and rely on.

I am proud of my mother, and my appreciation of her has grown as I’ve seen her on the campaign trail. She often says “I’m not a politician,” but she’s stepped up to the role of public servant since she started her campaign and will happily meet the challenges as a councilwoman.

It’s been humbling and wonderful to be outshone by her as an activist and leader in our community. She’s loved meeting everyone, engaging in conversations, collaborating with her campaign committee, being supported by the many people who believe in her (you’ve seen the yard signs). And it’s been challenging. The process has demanded a lot from her and she’s navigated it all gracefully. I’m proud of her.

Our district needs a good mother and elder, someone who will care for us, be fair, look out for our best interests, ensure everyone’s dignity is intact, our home is clean, our community is connected, our city services and budget are well-managed, someone who will lead with love while setting good boundaries. Vote for my mom, so she can be yours too.

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Armando Davila, the son of Cheryl Davila who is running for City Council representing District 2, is an eco-social activist and artist and community organizer and a native of West Berkeley.