Name: Carole Marasovic, policy commissioner/attorney
What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner
What is the main reason you are running? Berkeley has a distinct character that must be preserved. That character is a community that requires maintaining diversity and openness to people of all cultures, professions and socioeconomic backgrounds.
We are currently living in polarized times. We must move away from that polarization and work together towards consensus I support rent control, habitability, and ensuring accessibility to housing for all income levels. While vigorously protecting the rights of tenants, I also believe the rent board must be open to hearing the concerns of small landlords and homeowners. The rent board must be accountable and transparent to the community, conducting outreach, education and community forums, as it diligently works to meet its mission.
Why are you qualified? During my six terms as chair of the Berkeley Homeless Commission, I have initiated several recommendations regarding increasing affordable housing including enforcing discrimination laws. My work has been consistent with the mission of the rent board to protect tenants’ rights.
I have been on city of Berkeley commissions for over 11 years, engaging regularly with local political processes to provide citizens’ input. I am deeply invested, and committed, to the Berkeley community. My knowledge of Berkeley’s community needs together with a background of legal, legislative, research, analytical and community outreach skills, make me well-qualified to assume a rent board position. I commit to being accessible to the community as I delve into the work with my usual dedication.
What sets you apart from other candidates? Focusing on what I bring to the position, I bring a deep knowledge of housing issues, of the local political processes and how the local processes intersect with laws, regulations and policies on a federal, state and county level. I voraciously study issues that come before me so that I can provide a thoughtful analysis and make recommendations. I regularly not only review Council agendas and attend Council meetings regularly but also attend Council policy committee meetings, various commission meetings and community meetings to keep abreast of where the community stands on issues.
There are times that the rent board has been perceived as polarizing and not responsive to the whole community. It is important to not be dismissive to any community member. While committed to the rent board mission, it is important to always foster communication with all community members, updating them on evolving laws and regulations and to ease their concerns while listening to them.
I have a unique combination of skills which combine legal skills with communication skills that are respectful of everyone as well as a background in working with low-income people, and people with multiple disabilities that provides me with additional insights.
What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? I have lived in California since 1990, the East Bay since 1992 and Berkeley since January 2003. Berkeley is a community with a distinct character of diversity, intellect, and freedom of expression and dialogue. It is an accessible community of neighborhoods, with rich greenery, that is welcoming. Within this small radius, whatever you seek is available whether that be the arts, academia, dining and places to learn and exchange ideas with different people with differing perspectives.
What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? 1. The long-term outcomes of the pandemic are uncertain. The community is currently not only suffering economically but also struggling with issues of isolation and mental health wellness. 2. Increasing the amount of, and access to, affordable housing for all income levels; 3. Balancing the needs of how public money is allocated with full consideration to decreasing incomes, crime in our community and cost-effective allocation of all resources to meet changing needs in our community.
What are your ideas to begin to solve them? 1. We must listen to the full community. Everybody is in a state of uncertainty. We must be empathetic to that and listen to everyone’s concerns so that all community members believe that their input is incorporated. We must then revise our plans to accommodate the changing needs. As to mental health needs, I am in a community organization providing input on how we can develop a specialized care unit to respond to mental health needs city-wide. We must also evaluate how those needs will be met pre-crisis. 2. I have initiated, and presented, recommendations regarding development of the Adeline Corridor; engaged in BART parking lot housing plans to increase affordable housing; presented recommendations on evaluating the success of the affordable housing mitigation fee as opposed to inclusionary units; and recommended a procedure for enforcement of our city’s source of income ordinance. I will continue to work on exploring every option of increasing affordable housing in our community. 3. Due to decreasing incomes, tenants will be unable to pay their rent and small landlords may not be able to pay their mortgages and other expenses. We need to protect tenants staying in their homes less we have an overwhelmingly higher rate of homelessness in our community without the resources to address it. We must also work with small landlords to support them through this crisis.
With decreasing revenue, we need to ensure that allocations correspond with positive outcomes.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? An equitable, balanced, diverse community that has the vision to address the status of current changes whether it be climate change or creative ways to address the economic downturn while concurrently, incorporating history and respect for all its community members. We must reach out to the full community and hear their current struggles, concerns and priorities and respond to them.
How will you be accessible to constituents? I will be accessible in every way-by phone, by e-mail and by engaging with constituents individually or in groups. We must have additional community outreach and education on evolving laws and regulations, hear community input and work on accommodating the community’s needs.
Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? Experience, knowledge and commitment to the Berkeley community with a proven record of community leadership and collaborating with others with varying perspectives. Tenacity in approaching challenges, establishing objectives and developing strategies to conclusion. The ability to conduct myself in a balanced manner so as to be inclusive and away from polarization.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? Whatever my donors who believe in my ability to bring experience, knowledge, thoughtfulness, independence, balance and hard work to the rent board are able to contribute.
Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. 1. Love of all animals for the intrigue, spirit and joy they bring; 2. Listening to Sinatra for the intensity, range and depth of emotion as well as the Italian resiliency, my heritage; 3. Reading mysteries, particularly those that incorporate humor, for their characterizations, and paradoxes, within people. Perhaps, these interests don’t surprise anyone.