Donors pour $125K into mayor’s race, with Jesse Arreguín raising about 3x more than opponents

With public matching funds, Wayne Hsiung has almost as much to spend as the mayor.

Mayoral candidates (from left to right in ballot order): Jesse Arreguin, Wayne Hsiung and Aidan Hill
Mayoral candidates (from left to right in ballot order): Jesse Arreguin, Wayne Hsiung and Aidan Hill. Photos: Courtesy

Mayor Jesse Arreguín has raised almost three times the amount of money than his most serious challenger, Wayne Hsiung, a lawyer and the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights group, and completely dwarfed the fundraising of Aidan Hill, vice-chair of the Berkeley Homeless Commission, a People’s Park activist and former disaffected member of DxE.

Arreguín has raised $91,119 for his campaign and expects to raise as much as $150,000, he told Berkeleyside. He is not participating in Berkeley’s public campaign financing program, which matches donations of $50 from Berkeley residents with $300 in public funds. So under Berkeley’s election laws, Arreguín’s supporters can donate a maximum of $250. Political action committees can donate but businesses cannot.

Hsiung, who has never run for office in Berkeley before, raised $31,798 from people giving him $50 at a time. The public finance program gave him another $48,410, bringing the amount he has to spend on his campaign so far to $80,208. That means of his 635 donors, 161 Berkeley residents, or a little more than 25%, have contributed to the campaign, with the rest of the funds coming from people living elsewhere.

Hill has raised $1,817 and has received $4,993 in matching funds.


Some of the people who have given $250 to Arreguín include Denny Abrams, who developed Fourth Street shopping district, Chris Barlow and Geoffrey Sears of Wareham Development, former Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Eric Bjerkholt, who is married to Councilmember Sophie Hahn, and their daughter Emilie, Rent Board Commissioner James Chang, Diane Davenport, who serves on the Berkeley library board, Anna de Leon, an attorney, John Gage, Elisabeth Jewel and Dion Aroner, both partners in the political consulting firm AJE Partners, Patrick Kennedy, the developer behind Panoramic Interests, Nathan George, of NDG Real Estate and Consulting, Bill Schrader of The Austin Group, a development firm, George Kiskaddon, the owner of Builder’s Books, Dan Knapp of Urban Ore, Malcolm Margolin, the founder of Heyday Books, Marc Weinstein, the owner of Hi-Fidelity cannabis and Amoeba Records, and three members of the Yabusaki family who are turning their nursery into one that sells cannabis flowers.

Former Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio has also donated to Arreguín as have current councilmembers Rigel Robinson, Ben Bartlett and Lori Droste.

Hsiung has made a campaign issue of the fact that Arreguín received $250 from a political action committee set up by Comcast Corporation. Other PACs that have contributed to Arreguín’s campaign include those of many labor unions, including AFSCME Local 3229, the Construction and General Laborers Local Union, Alameda Firefighters’ Association and the Sheet Metal Workers International.

Some of Hsiung’s financial supporters include Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Wilson, former BUSD School Board Director, Todd Jersey, the architect, and Pawel Moldenhawer, the head of Milarox and a candidate for the rent board.

Some of Hill’s supporters include Andrea Prichett, a BUSD teacher and co-founder of Berkeley Copwatch, and Ruscal Cayangyang, a former Vallejo School Board member and aide to Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles.


Frances Dinkelspiel is co-founder and executive editor of Berkeleyside. Email: frances@berkeleyside.com.