Setting the Record Straight

September 30, 2020

Dear Friends,

Recently, many voters in Berkeley received a misleading hit piece against me from my opponent, Wayne Hsiung. I wanted to write to set the record straight, and hope you can share this information with anyone you know who might be questioning the claims made by Wayne’s campaign.

On Money in Politics: While Wayne is taking public financing - a system I helped create - the majority of his donors are from outside of Berkeley. According to Berkeleyside, only 25% of his donors are Berkeley residents. The bulk of our donors are Berkeley residents, in addition to donations from labor unions representing trades people, nurses, and working families. Our campaign is endorsed by nearly every elected official and organization in the area, including 7 of the 8 City Councilpeople. I believe this shows the breadth of our support and an affirmation of the work we’ve done to build consensus in Berkeley. 

On Wildfires and Climate Change: The plan Wayne references in his mailer is the 2006 ballot measure, Measure G, approved by over 80% of Berkeley voters. Since that time, the climate crisis has worsened dramatically. In 2018, I voted to declare a Climate Emergency, and set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality in Berkeley by 2030. Under my leadership, Berkeley is advancing a Green New Deal:  

  • Berkeley became the first city in the country to phase out throw-away plastics and ban natural gas in new buildings. Both policies have become national models.
  • The City continues to prioritize electric vehicles, public transit, biking, and walking. 
  • As a board member for East Bay Community Energy, I helped our community gain access to 100% renewable power at affordable prices.
  • I also led efforts to allocate over $1 million towards wildfire mitigation, including reducing hazardous fire fuels, vegetation management, clearing paths, and emergency preparedness. This is the largest investment in wildfire prevention our city has ever made. 

I’m honored to be the only candidate for Mayor endorsed by Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay.

Additionally, Wayne’s promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 is unrealistic and is based on his other promise to implement a $2.5 billion wealth tax. He has provided no explanation for the $2.5 billion number, or how this tax can be implemented legally or practically. 

Police Reform: Contrary to what Wayne claims, I voted to let an 8-person team of Berkeley Police officers, as well as our Firefighters, attend a disaster preparedness and emergency response training, which trains first responders in how to address active shooter incidents and bomb threats, and how to respond to natural disasters such as wildfire and earthquake threats. Don’t we want our first responders to be prepared?

My administration is also leading Berkeley’s efforts to reimagine public safety and reduce the size of our Police Department budget. I recently voted to strengthen our Police Use of Force Policy to ban the types of control hold that killed George Floyd, and require more public reporting of any police use of force. I’m also currently leading a community process to address racial disparities in police stops. Lastly, I wrote Measure II on the November ballot to create an independent civilian Police Accountability Board. 

Homelessness: The proposal Wayne references was intended to prevent objects from blocking access to BART station entrances and other public sidewalks. I crafted a sidewalk policy which allows the unhoused to sleep on sidewalks, but ensures that their objects do not block the sidewalk, to allow safe passage for people in wheelchairs, strollers, and pedestrians. I strongly oppose the “criminalization” of those experiencing homelessness and I’m proud of my administration’s bold leadership on homelessness:

  • Under my leadership, Berkeley has doubled the number of emergency shelter beds in our city.
  • We expanded emergency housing assistance and rent subsidies to keep people on the verge of homelessness from losing their homes. 
  • I led the creation of the STAIR Center, the East Bay’s first low-barrier 24-hour-a-day shelter, which provides job assistance, mental health, and substance abuse treatments, and has moved more than 250 people from the streets to permanent housing.
  • I wrote and passed Measure P in 2018, generating millions of dollars for rent subsidies, shelter expansion, street health services, and mental health outreach.
  • We have allocated millions for one-time housing retention grants, legal representation, and flexible housing funds to help people avoid homelessness. 

I am proud of my record as Mayor over the past four years and humbly ask for your support and your vote for a second term. Please forward this on to your Berkeley friends and neighbors to help set the record straight.

And anyone can reach out to me at any time at jesse@jesse.vote.

Thanks for reading.

Jesse