Igor Tregub (right) with his life partner Maritessa. Photo: Courtesy

Name: Igor Tregub, 33, safety engineer, U.S. Department of Energy (District 1)

What is the main reason you are running? I’m running to do what I can to ensure that Berkeley is a place that we can all call home – just like it became a home for me after moving through four countries, two states, and several cities in California. Maritessa (my life partner and a first generation immigrant herself) and I started the rest of our life together in this West Berkeley community that we love – and we want to do whatever we can to ensure that all of our neighbors have the best opportunities here to raise their families in a safe, supportive, and diverse environment.

Why are you qualified? I’ve devoted the last 15 years of my life to crafting bold, forward-thinking, and sustainable solutions to solve a variety of challenges, to doing our part to find the climate change crisis to addressing the regional scourge of housing unaffordability. Endorsed by over sixty community leaders and elected officials, having worked on over fifty legislative items ranging from anti-displacement, to environmental justice, to seismic safety, my foremost priority is to deliver to you– the residents of Berkeley – the services that you pay for and deserve. I hope to earn your vote to continue as your 24/7 public servant. I am humbled to have been endorsed by the Sierra Club, Alameda County Democratic Party, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, and dozens of city commissioners with whom I have partnered on issues large and small – but equally meaningful to the Berkeley community. But nothing would mean more to me than your vote.

What sets you apart from other candidates? I have a lot of respect for the other candidates, but several considerations set me apart:

  1. You will have a seat at the table. Berkeley neighbors are special to me. I have invested countless hours supporting you, and I want you to have greater influence in local government.
  2. I have a proven track record of focusing on your interests. From ensuring that the voices of the community is heard at commission and Council meetings and ensuring that City Hall is responsive to your needs, I have 15 years of experience standing up for the community.
  3. I refuse to take contributions from corporate PACs and developers doing business in Berkeley. I listen to everyone, but I’m unbought. No corporate PAC or big money can influence my vote. I listen to you.
  4. Experience matters. The Democratic Party has endorsed literally hundreds of progressive bills through my leadership. I’ve walked picket lines, chaired multiple commissions, and spoken before the City Council hundreds of times. Experience not for its own sake – but for the sake of serving you, the community – is paramount, and this is something that I committed to delivering if I have the honor of being elected.

How and when did you end up in Berkeley? I came here to attend college, graduating from UC Berkeley with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science. Upon graduation, I was fortunate enough to accept a position with the Department of Energy, allowing me to stay in Berkeley and serve our local community at the same time as I am serving our nation. We will fight for a Berkeley that everyday people like us can afford and in which we can raise our families.

What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? The three largest challenges facing the city (and in particular our district) today are the existential threats of housing unaffordability, homelessness, and displacement; community safety (or lack thereof); and air quality and other environmental justice concerns.

What are your ideas to begin to solve them? A Berkeley that We Can All Call Home: Housing affordability, anti-displacement efforts, and neighborhood stabilization has been my subject matter expertise over the last 15 years, and will be my top priority if elected. As Chair of the Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission, I have made recommendations – accepted by my colleagues and the entire City Council – as to how Housing Trust Fund and Community Development Block Grant dollars should be allocated; and provided leadership to the successful campaign to pass the Measure U1 (amounting to about $4 Million per year for affordable housing construction and rehabilitation projects); I also took the deciding vote on the Berkeley Rent Board to ease the process of creating new Accessory Dwelling Units, knowing that this is a key strategy to facilitate aging in place and relatively affordable housing options for many Berkeley families.

Community Safety: Our community faces many challenges, including a recurring inundation of violent individuals who come to Berkeley to seek attention. Certain types of crime are also on the rise. In three weeks, my campaign team has experienced three car break-ins. We’ve felt the costs of this crime personally. We need a fully staffed police force that can respond in a way that keeps the community safe. I will make stabilizing our police force and expanding community policing efforts a top priority.

Pro-environmental justice: As Chair of the Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club, I’ve been very active in trying to stop the transport of coal and petroleum coke through District 1. There are also serious air quality concerns near I-80, and mitigations to clean up the air near the highway are one of my most immediate priorities if I’m elected. I will work to boost community choice energy programs that prioritize community input, union jobs, and a just transition.

What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? Perhaps not a unique concept, but one whose time has surely come: Berkeley has got to make it easier, quicker, and less expensive for everyday homeowners and small property owners to receive permits for everything from minor expansion projects to installing electric vehicle chargers. Having personally witnessed too many of my neighbors be turned away by the cost, length of time, and conflicting information, I am committed to cutting red tape for these everyday projects.

How will you be accessible to constituents? I can be reached at 510-295-8798 or itregub@gmail.com day or night. I’ll also maintain a website and mailing list to educate the community about goings-on related to housing. I’ll continue being available to meet one-on-one with the public or attend community and organizational meetings. I can often be found at community events or hosting coffee chats at local businesses. I’ll continue to make myself accessible to the Berkeley community.

Are you using public financing? No

How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $45,000-$55,0000

A final thought? As a first-generation immigrant, I know how it feels to be constantly uprooted and to struggle to raise a family. But I also have come to believe that through hard work, a bit of luck, and the support of a union job, it is possible to achieve the American dream. In these trying times, when so many of our neighbors struggle to keep up with the mortgages on their homes and ever-increasing cost of living, I’m committed to doing everything I can to ensuring that our amazing neighbors are able to remain in this community that we love.

Find Igor online:WebsiteFacebookTwitterRead more about Igor Tregub on Berkeleyside. See complete 2018 election coverage on Berkeleyside.

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