Name: Cheryl Davila
Job: Full charge bookkeeper
What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 2
What is the main reason you are running? Our community needs diverse, ethical folks with integrity and honesty to step up and become public servants. I have been active in District 2 for thirty-five years, and I have seen how dysfunction at City Hall has meant that the voices of my neighbors have been absent from city decision making. I have experience working effectively within city government, serving as commissioner on the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission since 2009. I believe in neighborhood-friendly demilitarized policing, neighborhood assemblies, innovative ecological practices, and beautification without gentrification. I am responsive, accountable, and principled. My door will always be open.
Why are you qualified for the position? I am deeply committed to the needs of the neighborhoods of West Berkeley. My husband and I have lived in District 2 for thirty five years. I’ve raised our two wonderful children here, organizing with other Berkeley public school parents on the PTA while earning a degree with honors and working as a office manager. We are renters, and have seen first-hand the impact of gentrification and displacement, and the need for truly affordable housing programs that meet the needs of our friends and community members. In 2009, I joined Berkeley’s Human Welfare and Community Action Commission, where I’ve had the privilege of advising the Council on issues of human welfare and overseeing the Community Action Program for the past seven years.
Each council member comes at the job with a different set of skills and life experiences. As a financial professional, I will be accountable and won’t be bought and sold. As a mother and an activist, I bring a principled approach to community challenges and solution-making. I’m confident that my combination of skills and experience will serve me well as I work to represent my neighbors in District 2.
What sets you apart from other candidates? My combination of experience working within city government, my commitment to our community neighborhoods, and my training in responsible, accountable practices, make me the right candidate to represent our district on the Council.
As I walk the district speaking with neighbors, I hear again and again that District 2’s Councilman is only seen in the district during campaigns and that he is unresponsive when folks need resources and support. Our Councilman has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from real estate developers and is out of step with residents on issues of development. I’ve served as a commissioner since 2009, on the Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, where our Councilman tried to shut down discussion on important issues because they could be damaging to his political ambitions. His behavior as councilman has disappointed me and my neighbors. District 2 deserves a change.
My thirty years working in all phases of accounting and various manager positions demonstrate my ability to work with budgets and city finances with leadership and competence.
I am prepared to provide a responsive, principled council office that represents our needs, our priorities, and our values.
How did you end up in Berkeley? I first came to Berkeley in the late ’70’s from New York to attend my brother’s wedding where I met my husband. In 1981, I moved to Berkeley so that I could be close to my family and explore my relationship. We were married in 1989. We love Berkeley and raised our family here. Both of our children attended Berkeley public schools and grew up in our west Berkeley apartment.
I’ve been in love with Berkeley ever since I first arrived. We’ve got the best food and bread, world-class farmer’s markets, and engaged, smart, wonderful residents.
What are the three biggest challenges Berkeley faces in the near future?
Housing. As we all know, Berkeley is experiencing a housing crisis that is unprecedented in our history. Our beautiful city offers great schools, delicious food, vibrant neighborhoods and engaged neighbors, so it’s no wonder that so many people want to make Berkeley their home. Unfortunately, City Hall seems unconcerned with the challenges that this environment creates for longtime residents, and uninterested in attracting diverse new residents from all walks of life. As rampant gentrification was taking hold, council could have mandated that new businesses in retail corridors should be owned by people who live nearby, in order to keep the profits from new businesses in the neighborhood. They could have offered city-backed small business loans to residents who wanted to start businesses in their neighborhoods, so that longtime residents could have benefited from the rising economies of the neighborhoods. Instead, Council squandered these opportunities and far too many longtime residents were forced out of their neighborhoods as profits from real estate and businesses went to out-of-town developers and investors. Costa-Hawkins, the state law that prevents many forms of rent control, must be repealed so that we may revise our rent control system, both for residents and commercial tenants.
Environment. Communities everywhere are struggling to address the local impacts of climate change. Berkeley is already making great strides and creating models for other communities, but there is much to be done.
Bias and Inequity. Our communities of color have been the hardest hit by displacement as a result of gentrification. Additionally, our community is not immune to bias in employment practices and policing. We deserve a neighborhood-friendly police force that rejects militarized tactics. We need strong anti-bias policy and practice for all workers, and community assemblies that allow residents to discuss challenges and communicate with their representatives.
What are your ideas to solve them?
Housing. The current affordable housing requirements for new construction are not sufficient to address our housing crisis. I will fight to ensure that new apartment buildings offer 35% or more truly affordable units. A recent “below market” unit on University, for instance, is charging $1933 for a 340 square foot studio. This is a slap in the face to our affordable housing program. Additionally, it is time for a statewide movement to repeal Costa-Hawkins. Berkeley can lead this movement, and I will work with other cities to change state regulations so that Berkeley can have more tools to address exploding housing costs.
Environment. I am committed to environmental justice, clean air and water, accessible and plentiful wilderness, careful development that reduces our collective impact on the environment, and a constant eye to addressing climate change. I will work with city staff to develop a plan for 100% renewable energy production, solar rooftop initiatives for renters and low income owners, developing water retention landscapes throughout the city, supporting urban agriculture, and accelerating our carbon neutrality goals. As we face climate change as a community, we must actively research and proactively address environmental threats.
Bias and Inequity. I will support efforts to bolster workplace discrimination protections, and will work to prevent militarized policing tactics. BPD spends almost 35% or its resources responding to mental health crises, professionals would be better suited to respond to struggling community members. We need a fully-funded Mental Health Crisis Response Team that operates separately from the police department. City programming needs to be carefully targeted to help us preserve and enhance our city’s diversity, and to support our minority communities of color.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? I am passionate about hosting neighborhood assemblies that will allow community members to come together, identify and share challenges, and problem-solve together. The workings of city government are too removed from the day-to-day lives of our residents. Neighborhood assemblies will build relationships and help us resolve problems as neighbors. Unite!
How will you be accessible to constituents? I am active in our community, and I’ll be a visible presence in the life of District 2. We’ll meet at neighborhood assemblies, block parties, community events, and in my offices which will be regularly open for residents and conversations. If you haven’t met me yet, please visit my website and visit one of our campaign events, or give me a call. I’m walking the district, knocking on doors and introducing myself, and I look forward to meeting you and talking about how we can build a better district together.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? About $15,000, all from small donors.
A final thought? My candidacy is about achieving the sustainable, safe, vibrant, equitable community we want and deserve. I am committed to principled and accountable leadership, and I am passionate about our Berkeley community. I am honored to be endorsed by many, many community members, including Councilman Max Anderson, former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, the Green Party, Evolve, Friends of Adeline and many more. Please visit my website, www.CherylDavila.vote, to learn more about my campaign and to get involved. Know I am honored and humbled to be a candidate for City Council. I look forward to meeting and speaking to you!
See complete 2016 election coverage on Berkeleyside.