Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin announced he will be giving up his seat as mayor to run for a seat in the California State Senate.
The announcement comes more than a year before the March 2024 primary. If he wins, Arreguin would represent a new Senate District 7, which includes Piedmont, and succeed state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who is terming out. Skinner currently represents Senate District 9.
Arreguin is Berkeley’s first Hispanic mayor and has held the seat since 2016. He served as a city councilmember beginning in 2008. He is also currently the president of the Association of Bay Area Governments, a regional governing body representing the Bay Area’s 101 cities and nine counties.
“I know what we need to do,” Arreguin said by phone Wednesday.
He said he will bring to the Senate a deep body of experience, which comes from 20 years of public service in Berkeley and as president of ABAG since 2019. Before joining the City Council, Arreguin served on the city’s rent board.
Arreguin will launch his campaign publicly with an event March 22.
Rooted in political activism
Arreguin comes from a family of farmworkers. At 10 years old, he marched with Dolores Huerta.
His family lived in San Francisco and was evicted multiple times. Despite the hardship, Arreguin graduated from University of California at Berkeley and was the first in his family to graduate from college.
Through his work on a plan by ABAG, the Bay Area may see more than 440,000 new housing units over the next eight years. In particular, he wants more affordable housing built. Like others, Arreguin sees housing as a human right.
As a state senator, Arreguin says he would plan to increase housing construction, make the state more affordable for working families, take more steps to alleviate homelessness and, among other things, make California a bolder leader in addressing climate change.
He also wants to bring universal health care to residents of California. Like housing, he believes health care is a basic human right.
Currently, he is opposing the closure of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. He wants to make sure areas don’t become hospital deserts.
In Berkeley, Arreguin wrote the law that raised the city’s minimum wage. Arreguin has been a prolific author of legislation, writing more than 300 pieces of it.
As mayor, he helped end single-family zoning in his city. During the last three years, homelessness has dropped by 5 percent while countywide it has increased by 22 percent.
Arreguin helped write Plan Bay Area 2050, a $1.4 trillion long-term strategy to improve the region’s public transportation, increase construction of affordable housing and among other things, address climate change.