Opinion: Alex Sharenko has the sensitivity, aptitude and communication skills the Berkeley City Council needs

His close involvement with D2 goings-on shows an engaged focus on our whole district that has been lacking for the past four years.

I’ve lived in District 2 for a long while, and never have we needed better city council representation than we do right now. And I’m overjoyed that on November 3rd we have an excellent choice for positive change and turnover on Berkeley’s City Council.

I first met Alex Sharenko a few years ago when neighbors got together to talk about plans along the San Pablo Avenue corridor. He impressed me from the first as an engaged thinker and empathetic listener who’s really dedicated to making Berkeley a better place to live. I’m happy to give him my full support in his campaign to represent our West Berkeley district.

I have a little insight into the challenges of governance in Berkeley, and I’m convinced Alex is right for the job of city council member. When I served as deputy director of Berkeley’s library, we worked hard to gain community support for building new and bigger branch libraries throughout our neighborhoods. That was an arduous multiyear process requiring winning over citizens who were understandably resistant to changing beloved facilities, as well as much persuasive work with City Council and sometimes difficult city staff or commissions. Berkeley’s a tough crowd, to be sure, and for the District 2 city council seat we need someone with the sensitivity, aptitude, and communication skills that Alex possesses.

His close involvement with hyperlocal D2 goings-on, including but not limited to Berkeley Youth Alternatives and our neighborhood’s CERT team, show an engaged focus on our whole community that’s been lacking for the last four years. A solar energy scientist, Alex has a strong problem-solving, pragmatic mindset, which he’s deployed well while serving on several Berkeley Commissions. As a result, he’s seen that he needs to run for council because he wants to get things done. How refreshing.

The mindset of the current incumbent Councilmember Cheryl Davila has left her constituents wondering where it might wander off to at any given moment. Never mind her irrelevant cultural litmus tests of city appointees, the move to add cumbersome nonsense to Berkeley’s signage (“Love life” everyone!), the selective awareness of land use and zoning problems, and her chronic unresponsiveness to constituent emails. More fundamentally, her repeated and alarming inattention to the business at hand during council meetings makes it clear that we actually haven’t had any representation at all.

West Berkeley is tired of getting the short end of the stick, and we need someone like Alex on that dais. His priorities are correct: community safety, homelessness and housing insecurity, climate leadership, and compassionate, inclusive representation of District 2 residents. His thoughtful responsiveness to the spate of gun violence recently in the flatlands, for example, has been impressive–and sharp. He voices justifiable but measured outrage at the city’s appalling neglect of its infrastructure (See also: Aquatic Park, the Berkeley Pier, etc.). Seemingly immune to knee-jerk reactions, he understands the complexities of local issues and their stakeholders–an especially valuable quality amidst the instabilities caused by COVID. He’ll bring clear-headed energy to addressing the difficulties that chronically plague the westside of town.

I urge all my D2 neighbors to help us regain real representation on Council, and among the alternative choices please mark Alex Sharenko as your #1 pick on your ballot.

A resident of District 2 since 1990, Douglas Smith was Berkeley's Deputy City Librarian during the construction of the new neighborhood branch libraries.