Name: Alejandro Soto-Vigil
Job: Legislative assistant, Berkeley City Council and Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner
What office are you are running for? Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner
What is the main reason you are running? Housing is a human right. I am proud to be selected by the 2016 Berkeley Tenants Convention, a diverse coalition of nearly 400 tenants, landlords, and homeowners committed to protecting rent control and tenants’ rights.
Berkeley is facing a housing emergency. Seniors, students, and working families confront rising rents and threatened evictions. Because of this, the Rent Board has seen 2,000 more people through its doors.
As rents continue to skyrocket, we need to defend our Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Our Rent Program keeps rents stabilized. It’s also a place where landlords and tenants resolve disputes without expensive attorneys.
Why are you qualified for the position? I’ve held the following positions:
Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner: Vice-Chair; Budget and Personnel Committee; Resilience & Sustainability; Eviction / Section 8 / Foreclosure Committee; Ad Hoc Committee on Paperless Agendas; Safe and Sustainable Housing Committee; Housing Advisory Commission; HAC Vice-Chair; HAC Housing Trust Fund Subcommittee (Chair); HAC Community Development Block Grant Subcommittee; HAC Relocation Ordinance Subcommittee; City of Berkeley Alternate Commissioner to Planning Commission, Zoning Adjustments Board, Landmark Preservation Commission, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, Public Works Commission; AC Transit District Accessibility Advisory Committee; University of the District of Columbia Law School – Student Bar Association; Associated Students of Laney College – President
What sets you apart from other candidates? Over the last four years I have been a leader on the Rent Board, pushing to increase staff based on an unprecedented demand for services. I successfully led the effort to increase allocations for the Eviction Defense Center and East Bay Community Law Center because of the increased number of evictions in Berkeley, both illegally and constructive. Our eviction defense partners, working on a shoestring budget, have a proven track record of protecting vulnerable tenants. I am committed to increasing resources for the Rent Board to our eviction defense partners. I want Berkeley voters to know that when they vote for me, I will continue pushing to help our most vulnerable residents by preventing homeless and fighting illegal rent increases, unlawful evictions, and constructive eviction.
How did you end up in Berkeley? As an East Bay native I’ve been able to enjoy and experience its great culture of Berkeley. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2004. When I finished law school in Washington DC, my wife and I decided to move to Berkeley so that we could raise our children. Our kids currently attend Malcolm X Elementary school and have flourished as a result of the remarkable school culture in our public school system.
What are the three biggest challenges Berkeley faces in the near future?
High Rents force many new renters to pay an exorbitant amount of their income toward rent. Low-income workers in Berkeley, as a result, are forced to commute long hours, which diminishes workers standard of living. As a Commissioner, I will make sure to protect our precious Rent Controlled units.
Evictions, whether legal, illegal or constructive have caused numerous low-income tenants to be displaced, and in some cases homeless. I will continue to link tenants under threat and/or actual eviction to the Rent Board and our eviction defense law partners.
Harassment and Habitability has increased dramatically since rents have skyrocketed. I have in the past and will continue to visit rental units that cause health problems for tenants or units that are substandard. I will continue to find services for tenants living in these conditions.
What are your ideas to solve them? Answers incorporated in above question.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? I am inspired to continue working hard so the Berkeley City Council will prioritize the development of affordable housing. I’m tired of certain council members stalling affordable housing projects while allowing the proliferation of new market rate rental housing projects that reduce community benefits. We must stop Laurie Capitelli.
How will you be accessible to constituents? I am very accessible for meeting and phone conversations. Residents can always send me an email to schedule a meeting firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office line at 510-981-7171.
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $6,000
A final thought? My recommendations to Berkeley voters:
Mayor – Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington
Council District 5 – Sophie Hahn
Council District 6 – Fred Dodsworth
Council District 3 – Ben Bartlett
Council District 2 – Cheryl Davila or Nanci Armstrong-Temple (ranked choice)
Yes on AA, RR, A1, C1, E1, T1, U1, V1, W1, X1, Y1, Z1