District 2 voters rejected incumbent Berkeley Councilman Darryl Moore’s bid for re-election and narrowly handed the seat to progressive challenger Cheryl Davila, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, which completed its final vote count Friday.
Davila’s unexpected victory — no incumbent has been defeated in Berkeley since 1997 — contributed to a political shake-up at City Hall, where progressives will now command at least five, and possibly six, votes on the City Council.
Councilwoman-elect Davila took the seat with an overall 51.25% of the vote after the county counted ranked-choice ballots.
“I think the voters said that they want change,” Davila told Berkeleyside early Saturday. “They said we want someone that’s going to speak up for us, look out for us, and be authentic.”
Moore called Davila on Monday to congratulate her on her victory.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Council District 2 and the city of Berkeley, a vibrant community of neighborhoods and engaged residents,” Moore said in a press release. “I am proud of my leadership during my time on the council and wish the new council and mayor good luck as they tackle the challenges of our city.”
The Councilwoman-elect largely ran a campaign revolving around police accountability, racial and ethnic bias, as well as the environment. Like many of the candidates competing for the council, Davila also campaigned on proposed solutions to the regional housing crisis.
On police reform, Davila said that one concrete step the city could take to “demilitarize police” is to remove itself from the Urban Shield. Urban Shield is a Bay Area law-enforcement training program that holds an annual multi-agency exercise. The councilwoman-elect also said she is going to encourage the Berkeley Police Department to hold more neighborhood and community-themed events, to help the department become more neighborhood-friendly. (Police officials regularly hold community meetings, including a monthly one with the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee).
Davila said she heard from residents who complained about the way local government was working. “Ninety-nine percent of the constituents I spoke with were concerned [about] finding out about things after the fact,” she said. “Or going to the meetings and not being heard, like having the council go the other way after listening to the 100 people in the room. I want to try and change that.”
Davila said that before she takes office she wants to begin holding neighborhood assemblies. The first will be like an ice-breaker, she added. She hopes to hold the event in a park and have some music as well as, “maybe poetry, maybe dancing.”
“I want people to go outside their comfort zone,” said Davila. “In this climate [of a Trump presidency] we need to be in solidarity together.”
Now that the council is set to be more progressive, Davila hopes it will more thoroughly tackle thorny issues such as homelessness. “The homeless issue is an issue that was criminalized, so to speak, with the current council. Trying to decriminalize homelessness — that’s something we can accomplish.”
Davila was referring to Berkeley measures that placed restrictions on homeless behavior. The ordinances prohibit urination and defecation in public, as well as lying down in, or on, planters and trees. They also restrict how much of their belongings people can spread out on sidewalks, but that provision was suspended until the city could work out a place to build storage lockers.
Moore, who has sat on the council since 2004, earned just under 40% of the more than 8,000 votes cast in the first round of the ranked-choice ballot. His two challengers — Nanci Armstrong-Temple and Cheryl Davila — split the remaining votes earning approximately 29% and 31% respectively.
After the second round of ranked-choice voting eliminated Armstrong-Temple, voters gave Moore an additional 446 votes and Davila 1,236 votes — putting Moore 168 votes behind Davila.
Ranked-choice voting allows the electorate to rank a first, second and third choice for a single open seat. Doing so eliminates the need to hold a separate run-off election if a candidate fails to achieve a simple majority on the first round — as Moore did.
In the District 2 race, 17 voters spoiled their ballots by voting for too many candidates in one column; 403 people voted for Nanci Armstrong-Temple and did not rank any other candidates — a bloc that could have potentially given a greater mandate or changed the course of the election. And 968 people did not select a candidate at all, which also might have swayed the council race.
Election officials told Berkeleyside that the vote counts are unlikely to change. The county has until Dec. 8 to certify the election, which entails conducting state-required audit procedures, among other things.
Before the election, Moore and Davila had a number of run-ins. In 2015, Moore removed Davila from the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission after Davila introduced a resolution that called for city divestment in Israel.
Moore has told Berkeleyside in the past that the Israel divestment measure wasn’t appropriate for the Human Welfare Commission, which, he said, generally addresses issues surrounding local poverty. He said he removed Davila for that reason.
Davila said that Moore’s decision to remove her from the commission was her inspiration to challenge him for the seat. She said she has no plans to make Israel divestment an issue once she takes office.
“That’s not in my plan currently, no,” she said. “I was looking out for humanity in 2014, and I continue to look out for humanity, but I don’t have plans to put it on my agenda at the moment.”
At the time Moore removed Davila from the commission, Stand With Us, a local group that opposes divestment in Israel, called such efforts “fundamentally anti-Semitic” and explained it as “a global, growing propaganda campaign designed to erode support for Israel, isolate it as the pariah of nations, and marshal international forces to delegitimize and eventually eliminate the Jewish state by persuading the international community that Israel has no right to exist or defend itself.”
Moore’s two challengers, both this year and in 2012, accused the current councilman of being cozy with developers and real-estate interests, as well as being unavailable to constituents — accusations that Moore has flatly denied in past conversations with Berkeleyside.
Davila said that Moore’s 12 years in office should be praised, that he’s done “quite a bit for the city,” and that she will thank him for his service.
Davila said she ran in part because of Senator Bernie Sanders’ call: “Bernie said to me that regular, ethical people should step up and be part of the change. I stepped up.”
Update: 8:00 p.m. – This article was updated to include remarks made by Moore.
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