32-Year-Old Jesse Arreguín Is Berkeley’s First Latino Mayor

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In Berkeley, many expected Laurie Capitelli to become the city’s next mayor. Instead, the city elected its first Latino mayor. This week, in a nine-person race, 32-year-old Jesse Arreguín came out on top with 52 percent of the vote. “Laurie was [Mayor Tom] Bates’ anointed candidate,” he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicler. “Given the strength of the mayor’s political influence in Berkeley, everyone thought he was a shoo-in.”

Arreguín, who takes office on December 1 and will become the city’s youngest mayor, received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders. Compared to his opponents, he ran a far more aggressive campaign, sometimes featuring negative ads. But his campaign to tackle the city’s affordability crisis resonated with many voters. He trailed Capitelli in funding for much of the campaign. But rallying UC Berkeley students and other young voters helped him clinch the win.

After the results, he penned a letter on his website thanking everyone that helped him along the way. And, he also once again delineated what he hopes to achieve. “Together, let’s build more affordable housing so our working families don’t get pushed out of our great city,” he wrote. “Let’s raise the minimum wage to a truly living wage, so that nobody who works full time in Berkeley lives in poverty. Let us continue Berkeley’s trailblazing environmental leadership, to protect our air, our water, and our open spaces. Let us do all that we can to close those widening gaps in health, education, and economic opportunity, so that every child born in Berkeley, every family who lives here or decides to move here can get a fair shot at reaching for their dreams.”

But his victory was bittersweet. As he learned that he defeated his competitors, he also learned Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States – which he says gives his job more reason. “Maybe we are entering dark times,” he said, according to The Daily Californian. “But that is all the more reason that Berkeley will be a beacon in the dark. That is what I’ll do for the next four years.”