Election 2020: Who is Terry Taplin?

Meet Terry Taplin, one of four District 2 City Council candidates in Berkeley’s November 2020 election.

District 2 Berkeley City Council candidate Terry Taplin
Terry Taplin. Photo: Courtesy Taplin campaign

Name: Terry Taplin, 32, author

What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley City Council District 2

What is the main reason you are running? I’m running for the Berkeley City Council because the city’s most diverse district is too often overlooked: our streets are some of the most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, renting or owning a home in Berkeley is a diminishing reality for too many households, our roads and stormwater infrastructure are deteriorating, Strawberry Creek and Aquatic parks are vulnerable to contamination and gun violence disproportionately afflicts our communities. Now with COVID-19, Berkeley’s households are facing unprecedented rates of unemployment and lack of childcare. We need a new generation of progressive leadership to confront these next-level challenges.

Why are you qualified? My experience as city of Berkeley commissioner and community organizer has given me the skillset to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds and work collaboratively with the public, city staff, commissioners and elected officials to solve problems and deliver results. As a member of the youth commission, I fought to secure funding for programs serving low-income youth. As a civic arts commissioner, I obtained an increase in arts grants and advanced an Art and Culture Update that centered women, LGBTQ and POC artists. As vice-chair of the Transportation Commission, I’ve advanced critical initiatives like Vision Zero to address road fatalities and severe injuries and enable Berkeley to eliminate emissions from its transportation sector.


What sets you apart from other candidates? What sets me apart is my ability to build consensus and form broad, intersectional coalitions, as shown in my local and regional endorsements. As a transportation commissioner and community organizer, I’ve taken an active role in advancing and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety, transit equity, micro and electric mobility and safe, accessible routes for all. Growing up as a gay Black man in Berkeley, I am committed to our city’s progressive principles and reflect its diversity. I am also empathetic and sensitive to the needs of long-time residents, young families and students and will keep all of Berkeley’s residents on equal footing. I have cultivated relationships with the Berkeley Unified School District to build between the city of Berkeley and BUSD to ensure all of Berkeley’s households have access to learning resources, safe routes and affordable childcare.

What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? I was born at Alta Bates and have lived in Berkeley my whole life save for several months when my husband and I were temporarily displaced.

What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? The biggest challenges over the next five years will be housing, climate adaptation and COVID recovery.

What are your ideas to begin to solve them? We must provide rent and mortgage relief to prevent more households from falling into homelessness, work with the county and neighboring cities to identify feasible and secure locations for RV parking and sanctioned encampments, and invest in permanent supportive housing rehousing programs. We must also strengthen anti-displacement measures and tenant protection oversight, and enforce the ban on source-of-income discrimination. To increase middle- and low-income housing, we must fight for the highest possible amount of low- and very low-income units in mixed-income multifamily buildings and allow the construction of duplexes and fourplexes. We must also prioritize space for subsidized units over parking spaces and locate denser multifamily housing along transit corridors and at BART stations. I will advance road safety and mobility-inclusive, fossil-free modes of transportation, and infill development to reduce vehicle miles traveled and eliminate GHG emissions to address climate. I will work with the city and our regional partners to upgrade Berkeley’s stormwater infrastructure to mitigate flood risk and manage hillside vegetation to mitigate wildfire risk. For a just recovery from COVID, I will work with our Public Health Division and Alameda County to ensure that the public is well informed. I will work with businesses and employers to ensure the safety of all workers. I will aggressively pursue grants funding to support our artists and small businesses and invest in childcare.

What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? Perhaps neither inspired nor unique but I am committed to massively reinvested in our marina and waterfront to adapt to rising seas.


How will you be accessible to constituents? I will keep an open door for constituents. My office will prioritize constituent service and correspondence. I will keep a newsletter, hold town halls, make myself available through phone, text, email and social media. I will prioritize constituent and community meetings on my schedule and check in often with neighborhood leaders. I will actively participate in community events and social gatherings of the district. I will communicate often with D2 residents regarding policy and decisions.

Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? Voters should choose me because I combine bold, progressive vision with a laser-sharp focus on local issues and have an unwavering commitment to constituent services. As a public servant and activist, I’ve demonstrated the ability to model constructive intergeneration, intersectional and cross-cultural dialogue, build broad, diverse, coalitions and collaborate with neighbors, City Council and regional allies to turn progressive principles into constructive outcomes.

Over the last year I have worked to get to know the concerns of District 2’s diverse neighborhoods and have devoted my time and life to being available and committed to learning how to be the best public servant possible. I will always push myself to be a servant and an advocate for the D2 community first and foremost.

Are you using public financing? Yes

How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $45,000


Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. I hold a B.A. in Classical Languages: Greek and Latin. I have a passionate interest in the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly Graeco-Roman literature and history. I likewise have a passionate interest in Medieval and Renaissance Italian history and art.

Learn more about Terry Taplin online: WebsiteFacebookTwitter • Instagram

Read more about Terry Taplin on Berkeleyside. See complete 2020 election coverage on Berkeleyside.