With 4 City Council seats up for grabs in Berkeley, here’s who’s donating

Those participating in the city’s public financing program can only get $50 from any donor, but Berkeley matches that six-to-one, or $300 per donor.

Photo: Pete Rosos

There are four City Council seats up for grabs on Nov. 3 and those running handed in a report on their campaign finances on Sept. 24, Here’s how much the candidates have raised for their 2020 races:

Council District 2

Cheryl Davila is running for her second term on the council and has raised $8,988 from individual donors and gotten $25,500 from Berkeley’s public campaign matching program. Donors are limited to contributing $50 each. Some of her donors include Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Rent Stabilization Board President Paola LaVerde, Richmond City Councilmember Eduardo Martinez, former City Councilmembers Max Anderson and Carole Kennerly and former Alameda County Schools Superintendent Shiela Jordan. Arreguín’s chief of staff, Jacquelyn McCormick, as did a number of residents who are active in city politics: Kelly Hammargren, Andrea Prichett, a founder of Copwatch, Fred Dodsworth, who ran for D6 seat four years ago, Asa Dodsworth, a former rent board commissioner, Carol Denney, Hatem Bazian, boona cheema, and the artists, Edythe Boone.

Alex Sharenko has raised $10,202 from individual donors and has received $41,910 from the public matching program. City Council members Rashi Kesarwani and Lori Droste have contributed to his campaign. Other donors include former City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, David Trachtenberg, the architect, Mark Rhoades, the developer, Evan McDonald from the development firm Hudson McDonald, Ray Yep, a former public works commissioner, Paul Kamen, a naval architect, Debra Sanderson, a former Berkeley city planner. Judy Dater, the artist, and activist citizens including Isabelle Gaston, Barbara Gilbert, Diego Aguilar-Canabal and former candidates Ben Gould and Stephen Murphy. 

Terry Taplin has raised $11,636 from individual donors and has received $32,130 from the public matching program. His donors include City Council members Rashi Kesarwani, Rigel Robinson, and Lori Droste and Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Former City Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Linda Maio, and Darryl Moore also donated as did BUSD director Ty Alper and former BUSD Director Karen Hemphill. Jacquelyn McCormick donated as did Ben Gould, former City Council candidate Ces Rosales, the author, Anna Lappe, the event producer Lisa Bullwinkle, former Berkeley Planning Director Timothy Burroughs, and the head of the UC Theatre, David Mayeri.


An independent expenditure campaign, which has no direct interaction with candidates, filed a campaign report on Sept. 29. It is called Berkeley Neighbors for Affordability, Committee Major Funding from Bay Area Housing Advocacy Coalition, Supporting Alex Sharenko and Terry Taplin for District 2 City Council 2020. The three officers listed on the filing form are housing activists in San Francisco: Matthew Alvarez and James Sutton work for the Sutton Law Firm and Todd David is the executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. The independent expenditure committee has spent $3,402 on behalf of both Sharenko and Taplin, according to documents filed with the city.

Timothy Carter has raised $9,586 from individual donors and has received $6,666 from the public matching program. His donors include Evan McDonald, Ira Serkes, a real estate agent, Steven Smith, a real estate agent with Norheim & Yost, and Elizabeth Lee-Egan, a volunteer for East Bay for Everyone.

Council District 3

Ben Bartlett has raised about $42,000 in his bid to win re-election to a second term. That includes a $6,750 loan he made to his campaign. He is not participating in the public matching program. Public filings show that Bartlett began receiving donations to his 2020 campaign in March 2017. His donors include Mayor Jesse Arreguín, former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, Rent Stabilization Board commissioners John Selawsky, Igor Tregub and James Chang (Chang is also Bartlett’s aide), Jacqueline McCormick (Arreguín’s chief of staff), former city planner Debra Sanderson, Ray Yep, formerly on the Public Works Commission, Leah Wilson, a former School Board director and Sheila Jordan, the former Alameda County Superintendent of Education. The Keith Carson for Alameda County Supervisor fund also donated.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 PAC contributed, as did the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local 104 PAC, the Sprinkler Fitters & Apprentices Local 483 PAC, and the  Steamfitters UA Local 342 PAC.

Deborah Matthews has raised about $20,000, including $4,100 from individual donors and $15,210 from the public matching program. Her donors include former City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, former BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence, Board of Library Trustees member Judy Hunt, Marko Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, UC Berkeley Professor Karen Chapple, David Trachtenberg and Charles Kahn, both architects, Debra Sanderson, former Berkeley city planner, Bill Schrader, a developer with The Austin Group, Sid Lakireddy, president of the Californa Rental Housing Association, Laksh Lakireddy, president of Everest Properties, David Mayeri, director of the UC Theatre, and others.


Orlando Martinez has not filed forms tracking his campaign contributions with the city of Berkeley, though he did apply for the public matching program in July 2020.

Old City Hall, the Maudelle Shirek building. City Council no longer meets here but the building still personifies city government. Photo: Nancy Rubin

Council District 5

Sophie Hahn has raised $71,761 from individual donors. She is not participating in the public matching program. Hahn received $250 donations — the maximum donation allowed — from people including Nathan Brostrom, the interim chancellor of UC Merced; Betty Yee, the California state controller; the author Michael Pollan. Paola LaVerde, James Chang, and Igor Tregub, all rent board commissioners, donated to Hahn’s campaign, as did Judy Appel, BUSD School Board president, Andy Katz, an EBMUD director, Shoshana O’Keefe, a BUSD teacher and Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner and Alameda County Superior Court Judge Andrew Steckler. Hahn donated $250 to her campaign, as did her mother, her husband and their three children. Bebe McRae of The Grubb Company is a supporter as is Nick Menchel, a vice-president of Lane Partners, a developer.

Todd Andrew has raised $3,306 from individual donors and has received $13,650 from the public matching program. Some of his donors include former City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, Elizabeth Lee-Egan, a volunteer for East Bay for Everyone, Stephen Murphy, former City Council candidate, community activists Barbara Gilbert and Isabelle Gaston, Deborah Matthews, who is running for the D3 council seat and Alex Sharenko, who is running for the D2 council seat.

Paul Darwin Picklesimer has raised $1,839 from individual donors and $9,203 from the public matching program. Those donors include Wayne Hsiung, an environmental attorney and the founder of Direct Action Everywhere who is running for mayor, Almira Tanner, lead organizer for DxE, and Robert Daroff, a doctor at the VA.

Council District 6

Susan Wengraf, the incumbent, has raised $53,579 from individual donors. She is not participating in the public finance program. Her supporters include City Councilmembers Sophie Hahn and Rashi Kesarwani, Mayor Jesse Arreguín, former City Councilmembers Gordon Wozniak and Linda Maio and former City Auditor Anne-Marie Hogan. Helen Meyer of Meyer Sound donated, as did Chris Barlow and Rich Robbins of Wareham Development, the California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild, Bebe McRae of The Grubb Company, the author Michael Lewis and his wife, Tabitha Soren, a photographer, Noah Alper of bagel fame. Susan Muscarella, the president of the California Jazz Academy, Ray Yep, a former public works commissioner, Denny Abrams, who developed Fourth Street, and David Mayeri of the UC Theatre, among others.


Richard Illgen has raised $9,779 from individual donors and has received $30,420 from the public matching program. Some of his supporters include Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioners Paola LaVerde, Igor Tregub, Soli Alpert, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, and former commissioner Asa Dosdworth. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean is a donor as is former City Council member Max Anderson, former Public Works Commissioner Margo Schueler, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker. Steve Finacom and Daniella Thompson, both historians and preservationists, are also supporters. Laverda Allen from The Allen Group is also a donor.

Campaigns last reported their individual fundraising numbers Sept. 24. The public matching funds were as of Oct. 1. 

Editor’s note: Several of the campaign finance details reported for Bartlett and Matthews were incorrect. The story has been fixed.

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