Name: Todd Andrew
What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley City Council District 5
What is the main reason you are running? I am running to serve the people of Berkeley, not a narrow ideological agenda or my own political future. While I consider myself a Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren Democrat, we do not have tools at our disposal like monetary policy and deficit spending, like the federal government, nor do we have the economic and tax base of the state. When we squander resources that could otherwise be devoted to streets and other infrastructure, affordable transit-oriented housing, homelessness, mental health, energy efficiency, public EV fleets and charging stations – to name just a few – we are failing ourselves and future generations. We can use our resources wisely and maintain fidelity to our Berkeley values at the same time.
Why are you qualified? Two-and-a-half years ago, I began discussing local challenges with a number of fellow Berkeley evidence enthusiasts. Many have expressed frustration at the lack of an evidence-based approach to policy on the part of local elected and appointed officials. Since then, I have attended innumerable City Council, Rent Stabilization Board, and Council policy committee meetings, and read thousands of pages of agendas and reports. On the Homeless Commission, I have tried to steer discussion to a results-based approach and have worked to expand subsidies to low-income commissioners. On the Solano Avenue BID Advisory Board, I have led efforts to help businesses weather the COVID-19 storm. Prior to the birth of my son in 2000, I had been a board member of the Children’s Council of San Francisco.
What sets you apart from other candidates? My father worked in a blue-collar environment before meeting with some success as a small businessperson after I moved away. My mother worked on a factory floor and behind a deli counter.
As someone who grew up in a financially challenged working-class family, and who has never fully recovered financially from the Great Recession, I bring a unique perspective to a city like Berkeley where income and wealth disparities are large.
Having raised two children here, I know how important well-maintained parks and safe public spaces are. My kids came up through Berkeley public schools, which helped us to instill in them the Berkeley values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
As a 14-year Berkeley tenant in a rent-controlled apartment, a 7-year homeowner in Berkeley prior to that, a tenant in three other cities, and as a 17-year Realtor®, I have a unique perspective on housing policy.
In short, I will bring much-needed balance to our public policy discourse, and look forward to frequent, frank and evidence-based discussions with my District 5 neighbors and fellow Berkeleyans.
What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? I moved to San Francisco after graduating from college in 1988 on work-study income and student loans, and lived with roommates in a variety of neighborhoods trying to keep my rent low. In 1991 I moved to Emeryville to room with a co-worker, after which I finally got my own one-bedroom apartment, in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland. I’m a 21-year resident of Berkeley, having joined my then-wife at her Cedar and California home to start a family after falling in love in 1999.
What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? Most immediately COVID-19, ensuring that we attend to the needs of the most vulnerable. I would include our local small businesses in this. Longer-term: 1) As a bicyclist, I can tell you that too many of our streets are dangerous, and this is only one part of about $700 million in unfunded infrastructure liabilities. 2) On affordable housing, we have let too many precious opportunities slip away. 3) On homelessness, we fail to face too many uncomfortable facts.
What are your ideas to begin to solve them? In addition to the three priorities above, I would add the existential threat of climate change.
To addresses our multiple challenges, I believe we need to consider substantial changes. Please see my policy ideas at Andrew4Berkeley.com.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? With significant input from community members, merchants, urban planners, and transit experts, let’s study creating a community gathering place and pedestrian- and bicylce-only access points to BART, the YMCA, the Central Branch of the library, Berkeley High School, Civic Center, and other points of interest in Downtown Berkeley. As a layperson, it’s exciting to contemplate safe automobile access and passage to the parking garages, MLK, and University, but an otherwise “car-less Downtown.”
How will you be accessible to constituents? I will be accessible via phone, email, town halls and office hours. In addition, since it has not been possible to go door-to-door during the campaign, I would like to make that a regular part of my practice, to meet as many District 5 residents as possible.
Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? Please see Andrew4Berkeley.com.
Are you using public financing? Yes
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? I am participating in Berkeley Fair Election Program public financing. To date, including expected matching funds, I have raised over $17,000. I expect to raise at least that much in the coming weeks.