Name: Nanci Armstrong-Temple
Job: Social entrepreneur, mom, teacher
What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 2
What is the main reason you are running? As a community organizer in Berkeley, I have seen our streets and parks be neglected, our police out of control, and our elected officials largely unaccountable to the people they have promised to serve. I also see citizens who love Berkeley deeply, who look for ways to make the world a more just and equitable place, and who believe that Berkeley exists to be on the cutting edge of progressive social programs. It’s time to bring that Berkeley back again.
Why are you qualified for the position? As the daughter of community activists who ran a non profit in South Central Los Angeles which was led and directed by those who were most impacted by state violence, I have a unique perspective not found by any other candidate. As a social entrepreneur I understand how to identify and solve community problems, and as a small business owner I also know how difficult it is to make ends meet. And as an activist who has a history in helping to direct social movements that hold officials accountable, I will always serve the people.
As a board member of several nonprofit organizations, I have been able to navigate the difficulties of leadership and help plan and implement large budgets.
As a teacher and coach I have been able to navigate and manage difficult situations and reach across cultural, economic and racial divides to solve problems and hold stakeholders accountable.
Most importantly, I am able to navigate difficult people and situations under pressure without losing my composure and without compromising my principles.
What sets you apart from other candidates? The current incumbent has not been accountable to the people in our district. He refuses citizen requests for community meetings. He meets with homeowners and business owners on behalf of developers, but cannot be bothered to follow through with promises made.
In contrast, I am readily available to talk with people in my community. I plan to hold weekly office and community hours, and to hold monthly topical town halls. I will hold the zoning and planning departments to our city law, and make sure that no more properties are built that destroy their neighbors sunlight and provide minimal of any community benefit. And I will help to end rent hike evictions and criminalization of the homeless while working to balance our budget and pay down our debt.
How did you end up in Berkeley? I moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley and fell in love with the area. As a mixed-race family, there are places that we would not feel comfortable living. My husband and I wanted to raise our children near his family in one of the most diverse places in the nation.
Unfortunately many families are being chased out of Berkeley by predatory policing practices, economic and social pressures, and lack of available jobs and housing for our youth. We will work hard to reverse this trend and make Berkeley a more thriving and diverse city.
What are the three biggest challenges Berkeley faces in the near future?
1) Homelessness and the affordable housing crisis
2) Fiscal solvency and half a billion dollars of unfunded liabilities
3) Militarization and lack of accountability of our city and police to the people of Berkeley
What are your ideas to solve them?
1) I plan to push for the declaration of a housing emergency in Berkeley. With this declaration we would be able to immediately allow certain properties to be used as emergency shelters, and also redirect specific funding to housing and services. In addition, we will work to green light developments that have a 35-50% truly affordable housing rate (capped at 30% of income) and build to fully meet our housing needs by 2025.
2) We need to immediately make a plan to start paying down our unfunded liabilities. It’s not enough to know what they are. We need to stop over funding ineffective areas and underfunding services with proven results. And we need to take the excess funds created by reducing waste and use it to pay our debt. Also by ending criminalization of Black, Brown and Poor people we will save millions of dollars a year in police overtime and expensive court cases defending police misconduct.
3) The Berkeley police has said that 35% of their calls are to respond to mental health crises that they are unprepared and unqualified to respond to. That portion of their budget would be better spent on social workers, emergency shelter, and comprehensive mental health services.
We will end the criminalization of homelessness and mental illness and end the fiscal crisis by defunding unnecessary and overpaid police positions and instead fund community programs that are proven to reduce crime. Please see http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/2015/berkeley for an example of the types of positions which receive as much as 100,000 or more in overtime pay alone.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? My most inspired idea for Berkeley is to create a thriving center where business owners can receive help with whatever they need to thrive in our city. We can only have a vibrant economy if we focus on supporting our citizens, and this is one way I will do so.
How will you be accessible to constituents? We promise to implement weekly office hours and community hours so that community members do not have to wait for the city council to have just 1 or 2 minutes to be heard. It is clear that people listen to who they are talking to, and the city council and mayor need to spend more time talking and listening to the people of Berkeley rather than out of town developers and real estate speculators.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $10,000-$12,000
See complete 2016 election coverage on Berkeleyside.