Name: Bianca Zahrai, employee and benefits attorney, veteran’s benefits appeals attorney (I help employees with their benefits, and I help veterans with their benefits)
What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner and AC Transit District director, Ward 1
What is the main reason you are running? We know that “all politics is local.” I can sit on the sidelines and complain about the state of my city, or I can roll up my sleeves and get involved. I am choosing the latter.
Why are you qualified? I have dedicated my legal career to serving the public. I worked for the California Legislative Counsel, the US Bankruptcy Court, the US District Court, the federal executive branch, and I have extensive work experience working at both non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses. I will draw on my work experience at the different branches of state and federal government, and apply that knowledge to the Rent Stabilization Board to help bring people together and to find practical and objective solutions.
What sets you apart from other candidates? I bring a fresh and unique perspective to the Rent Stabilization Board in making sound policies. I believe in representing the voice and interest of all Berkeley residents and want to bring people together, to work collaboratively and focus on problem-solving strategies that are beneficial to us all. I dislike divisiveness, I see too much of it currently in our politics, not just locally here in Berkeley, but statewide, and across the country.
What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? I am a UC Berkeley graduate and a longtime Berkeley resident. I came for the education, and stayed for the experience. Berkeley is known for its world-renowned university, however, it also has an eclectic, welcoming, and inclusive community that embraces diversity.
What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? Inequality, mismanagement of available resources, and environmental threats, along with a lack of transparency are the biggest challenges we face today. The current pandemic, equal justice protests, along with the recent wildfires brought to light these most glaring of issues we face in our community today.
What are your ideas to begin to solve them? Accountability, transparency, and annual audits and better planning and allocation of available resources would address the problems we face in Berkeley.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? To solve the problems that plague our city we need transparency and accountability in our local government, along with a balanced representation of competing, yet equally important, interests. The current climate is one of divisiveness and an “us vs. them” mentality, that feeds and thrives in this environment. We need to come together and work together to enable Berkeley realize its true potentials.
How will you be accessible to constituents? I’m both a constituent and a candidate. As a constituent, I have had to contact my representative (local, state, and federal) about issues with which I needed assistance. Unfortunately, more often than not, I have gotten no response to my enquiries for assistance. I believe in having an “open-door” policy and transparency in government. Elected officials are accountable to their constituents and must be accessible and answerable to them. My constituents can contact me via email or call me.
Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? I am a results-oriented and a unifier candidate. I believe in inclusion, in working together, never forgetting the importance of civility and decency.
Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. I’m a human rights activist; I may have missed my calling of becoming a pastry chef, I’m also an avid photographer and a pilates enthusiast. I love to exercise and believe a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand.