Op-ed: Sophie Hahn is exceptional, and just what Berkeley needs

For too long, Berkeley’s City Council has been mired in timid, incremental politics. The council majority has dragged its feet on important issues, to the detriment to those most in need, and to the frustration of all who want Berkeley to reclaim its place as a progressive and environmental leader. Luckily, in District 5, we have the opportunity to choose excellence, by electing a candidate with the experience, knowledge, dedication and vision to move Berkeley decisively forward: Sophie Hahn.

Sophie has lived in District 5 and the North Berkeley Area for over 40 years, and knows what’s important to her neighbors; things like our local parks, safe streets, and the future of Solano Avenue and the forlorn Oaks Theatre. She also knows that District 5’s residents want compassionate solutions to the homeless crisis, more affordable housing and a downtown they can be proud of.

Sophie commands an impressive depth of knowledge on a broad array of issues affecting Berkeley. As the Daily Californian noted in its recent, glowing endorsement, “in all aspects, Hahn goes above and beyond, laying out in-depth, detailed and nuanced proposals for everything from homelessness to police accountability.”

Sophie’s experience comes from more than just living in the district she seeks to represent; she has an extensive resume of positions on city and community boards. She is a senior member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, where she has approved over 2,500 units of housing, serves on the Solano Avenue Business Improvement District, and is a former Chair of the City of Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women. As President of King Middle School’s PTA she introduced programs to promote equity and participation, and her support for the Edible Schoolyard has earned her the endorsement of Alice Waters. Sophie serves on the Public Library Foundation Board, and spearheaded fundraising to refurbish all four branch libraries, including District 5’s North Branch. She’s a member of the Council of the Friends of the Bancroft Library, and was on the Advisory Board for the Magnes Museum of Jewish Art and Life. It would be difficult to find a person who is more qualified, or better prepared to serve on the City Council than Sophie.

In her many years of service to the community, Sophie has gained a reputation for working hard, being prepared, and inspiring others to bring their best to community processes. With an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, a JD from Stanford Law School, and experience practicing law, working for a large international organization and owning a small business, she has the knowledge and experience to translate Berkeley’s progressive ideals into practical, implementable policies.

Everything about Sophie speaks to quality and attention to detail. If you’re one of the many people in District 5 who’ve received her excellent print pieces and multiple knocks on the door, you know she’s not slacking in this campaign. Sophie will bring that same drive, determination and attention to detail to the City Council; you’ll never be left wondering what she’s been doing for District 5 and the City of Berkeley. I know that Sophie looks forward to being an active, full-time councilwoman; meeting with residents, engaging all stakeholders, and getting important work done for our community.

Sophie has proven her excellence in her work, and she has the endorsements to back it up. Endorsements from the Sierra Club and the Green Party speak to her commitment to environmental action. She’s been wholeheartedly endorsed by all of the endorsing newspapers in the area (East Bay Express, East Bay Times/Oakland Tribute, The Berkeley Daily Planet and The Daily Californian), all but one of Berkeley’s Democratic Clubs, The SEIU and California Nurses Association, State Controller Betty Yee and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, former Mayor and District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Dean, and hundreds of neighbors and community members.

It’s been a long campaign season, and it’s possible you already know all these things about Sophie. I know Sophie well. She is and exceptional person and an exceptional candidate, and I am confident she will be an exceptional city councilwoman. So it comes down to this: why settle for anything less? It’s rare that we have someone so qualified running for office, and we shouldn’t pass up this opportunity. Join me in moving on from mediocrity and incrementalism, and elect Sophie Hahn to the City Council!

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Carrie Olson is a lifelong District 5 resident, former chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and former President and current board member of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.