Opinion: Sophie Hahn is an outstanding council member for Berkeley’s District 5

Hahn has authored more than 80 pieces of legislation – and co-sponsored hundreds more, focusing on homelessness, affordable housing, climate and environment, and local business.

Four years ago, District 5 voters chose Sophie Hahn to lead with new energy and vision, and these past four years she’s worked hard to lift up our community, our planet, and our values. With her impressive record of accomplishments and unparalleled dedication to Berkeley, there is no doubt that Sophie Hahn is the best candidate to represent District 5 on the City Council.

We both met Sophie Hahn when she ran for City Council in 2016, and both of us had the great privilege of working with her during her first few years in office – as her legislative and district directors. We are now both pursuing graduate studies – one in law school and the other getting a master’s degree in public administration – both having been inspired by Councilmember Hahn’s humanitarian spirit, incredible dedication to serving the people of Berkeley, and her formidable legislative and problem-solving skills.

Sophie Hahn grew up in District 5, and she and her husband raised their three children just a few blocks from her childhood home. Her father was a history professor at Cal and her mother is a musician who has been active in civic organizations for almost 60 years. Sophie was in one of the first cohorts to go K-12 under Berkeley’s visionary plan to integrate public schools, and her bedrock values were formed during the Civil Rights, Free Speech and Anti-War movements. She graduated from both Berkeley High and UC Berkeley and has a JD from Stanford Law School.

Hahn has always been dedicated to serving the community and advancing Berkeley’s progressive values. Prior to being elected in 2016, she served on the boards of the Public Library Foundation, the Bancroft Library and Magnes Collection, King Middle School PTA, and local Planned Parenthood and Sierra Club chapters. She was the chair of Berkeley’s Commission on the Status of Women and also served many years on the Zoning Adjustments Board.

As District 5 Councilmember, Sophie Hahn has authored over 80 pieces of legislation – and co-sponsored hundreds more. Her work ethic and high standards are truly unparalleled; we know because it was our job to deliver along with her! She’s a “people person” with an optimistic, can-do outlook and creative problem-solving style, known for her ability to craft visionary programs and policies that make a difference for Berkeley and are replicated in cities across the Bay Area, and beyond.

Devoted to the community where she grew up and has lived for decades, Councilmember Hahn also personally responds to hundreds of constituent inquiries every year and is attentive to the needs of all Berkeley residents. Two years ago, in recognition of her effective work on the City Council, she was elected by her colleagues to serve as Vice Mayor.

As both the District 5 representative and vice mayor, Councilmember Hahn’s legislative work spans a wide variety of local interests, but she has been especially focused on key issues of homelessness, affordable housing, climate and environment, local business, and Berkeley basics – which includes fire and emergency preparedness; fiscal responsibility and good government; and parks, facilities and infrastructure.

One of Councilmember Hahn’s first items, the Pathways Project, is a comprehensive plan to reduce and eventually eliminate unsheltered homelessness in Berkeley. This legislation changed the paradigm for homeless services to a Housing First model, with a singular goal of getting the homeless rehoused and helping them rebuild stable lives. In less than three years, almost 250 homeless individuals and families have been rehoused. There is still a very long way to go, but with Councilmember Hahn’s leadership, Berkeley is finally moving forward to implement real solutions.

Vice Mayor and Councilmember Hahn is also a champion for affordable housing. She authored an ambitious affordable housing plan to achieve 30% affordable housing in Berkeley by 2050. But plans aren’t enough to make progress, and she knows that all good ideas must be funded. With Mayor Jesse Arreguín, she co-authored two measures (O and P) that voters generously passed in 2018, providing Berkeley with the local funds necessary to unlock county, state and federal affordable housing dollars.


Over the next ten years, Berkeley will be able to build close to 3/4 of a billion dollars (not a typo!) worth of affordable housing – likely 1,200 to 1,500 units – and significantly accelerate rehousing efforts for the homeless. Several exciting projects have recently broken ground, including a low-income senior housing project at the corner of Cedar and Oxford streets. This is what real progress looks like, and Sophie is always at the forefront of making real progress for Berkeley.   

Sophie knows that addressing climate change and pollution can’t wait, and her groundbreaking legislation to reduce throwaway plastics in Berkeley has been hailed – and is being reproduced – in cities across the globe. She has also championed green buildings, helped bring clean energy to every Berkeley home, and wrote Berkeley’s first urban agriculture laws. Her own backyard is an urban farm and CSA – The Berkeley Basket – that has been operating for 10 years to provide hyper-local, organic produce to neighborhood families.

Over the past four years, Berkeley has faced more challenges than anyone could have imagined, but through it all, Councilmember Hahn has stood up for Berkeley – helping neighbors in need, meeting hate with love, and answering calls for a more just and equitable society.

Sophie Hahn is a dedicated Councilmember, a passionate advocate for Berkeley, and a fearless leader who inspires those around her to be the best version of themselves. She embodies the experience, dedication and values that Berkeley needs on the City Council, now more than ever.

There is no candidate as qualified to serve, or as dedicated to the people and neighborhoods of Berkeley, as Sophie Hahn. Please join us in wholeheartedly supporting her for Berkeley City Council, District 5.

Bradan Litzinger, Hahn’s former legislative director, is a 2L student at UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies and David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy programs. Brandon Norris, Hahn’s former district director, is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at San Francisco State University.