District 2 Berkeley City Council candidate Cheryl Davila
Cheryl Davila. Photo: Courtesy Davila campaign

Name: Cheryl Davila, council member

What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley City Council District 2

What is the main reason you are running? I remain committed to regular, ethical, honest and principled leadership. I’ve lived in District 2, in a rent-controlled unit for 39 years, and raised our children who went through BUSD. I’ve been the front runner on police reform, meeting the needs of our unhoused community, organizing to mobilize Berkeley and the region to meet the climate emergency on its own terms, troubleshooting residents’ needs, advocating for capital improvements in District 2.

Next I will transform and recover the city budget, establish a network of disaster resilience hubs, implement the climate emergency mobilization, ensure reenvisioned public safety is a robust network of services, and keep our unhoused community dignified and en route to homes.

Why are you qualified? After one term as a council member, I have learned the ins and outs of city operations and fully abreast to city operations. Being a working-class citizen, with a bachelor’s degree in business economics, who received an academic award, Omicron Delta Epsilon, an international honor society in economics, graduated from Mills College with a minor in dance, I have met the challenge of being an effective leader. My husband of 33 years and I raised our two amazing children, now adults in District 2 in our rent-controlled unit. I spent six-plus years on the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission where I stood up for humanity, justice and social welfare needs to homes.

What sets you apart from other candidates? I am a principled and progressive BLACK woman, with a strong record of putting humanity first. I am intelligent, honest, and the candidate with the most experience. I have a background in accounting which makes me especially qualified at reviewing city funding and legislation/initiatives with financial components.

I’m not part of the machine that will rubber-stamp items without real consideration and review, nor am I controlled by bullying tactics. I won’t be bought or sold. I’m honest and won’t compromise my values, ethics or integrity.

I’m not afraid to ask critical questions to foster true understanding or provide clarity when dealing with complex, controversial issues. I demand transparency and accountability to our stated values in all city dealings. Because of the dire nature of racial, economic, and environmental inequalities that we’re currently facing, I believe that I can, better than any other candidate, utilize my second term to unite Berkelyans in solidarity so that we can be ready and better prepared for whatever comes next. There is uncertainty, but we can accomplish more together.

What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? In 1979, I came to Berkeley to attend my brother’s wedding where I met my future and current husband. I moved here in 1981 to pursue a relationship and to be close with my first nephew, not knowing where it would go. Now, married for 33 years with a wonderful family of my own, moving to Berkeley was one of the best decisions I made. The second best decision was to run for City Council.

What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? We’re vulnerable to natural disasters, housing insecurity compounded by economic inequality, and by the spread of disease, misinformation and racism. I will work to meet the needs of all residents by advancing our social contract and evolving our community infrastructure to permanently include mutual aid, emergency preparedness, and community-scale resilience planning. I will lead in a way that will break down the barriers to unite our community, while keeping our morale high and our city ready.

What are your ideas to begin to solve them? -Resilience Hubs: a community space that provides the following emergency and crisis resources: a gathering location, an education center where people can gain skills and build community, and an equipment distribution center. Our residents should know exactly where to go in an emergency, and we should have trained staff and volunteers who have the necessary materials to support them.

-Mutual Aid: Community organizing is a highly effective peer-to-peer system that our city requires. Residents have a variety of medical, social and financial needs and skills. If individual social networks and neighborhoods are informed of mutual needs and we have a culture of mutual support, then we will be able to achieve the much needed resilience necessary during these times. No resident should go hungry because they are unable to call a neighbor; no resident should miss a doctor’s appointment because they have no one to call. Social cohesion will protect us, and the city can support this community-driven labor.

-Economy: Our city needs a thriving local economy that will uplift its residents, and concentrate wealth in our community while transforming our social and environmental footprint. Instead of investing hundreds of thousands on consultants, we can invest potential funds in designing an enduring economy paired with financial literacy services and continued emergency rental assistance (with job training) to help support struggling community members.

What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? Implement the Climate Emergency Declaration by: gearing up residents to be fully informed and organized for a citywide just transition scenario; create a trans-national task force of the 1772 who declared a climate emergency. Evolving the concept of a sister city, the group will: share funds, best practices, bulk purchase next-generation technologies, shape the market, simultaneously implement policies, achieve sustainability and protect the lives of future generations.

How will you be accessible to constituents? During my first term, I held open office hours throughout the district in cafes, restaurants and businesses prior to COVID. During my next term, I plan on continuing virtual meetings on a neighborhood-basis until we are able to meet in person. This will include ensuring local business participation so that the many businesses who don’t reach out to city hall very often, are more connected and accessible.

What year were you elected and what have been your biggest accomplishments? Since my 2016 election: Berkeley PD is out of Urban Shield, 64 units of affordable housing will be built in District 2, new signs that say, “Welcome to the City of Berkeley Ohlone Territory,” passing the 6th Climate Emergency Declaration, inspiring 37 cities in California to join my call for regional climate mobilization, expanded the shower programs allowing showers for 400 people a week, expanded the inclement weather shelters hours for our unhoused, Sixth Street paving, expanded the San Pablo park community center hours to support preschoolers, and ensuring that all four parks in the district are receiving capital improvements. I have perfect attendance, have written or co-sponsored 300+ pieces of legislation and introduced the most legislation in 2020!

Are you using public financing? Yes

How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? We would hope to raise $50K+ through the public financing option provided by the city wherein a $50 maximum donation can be matched six times if Berkeley residents provide the appropriate form to our campaign for submission to the city.

Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. B.C. (before children and before council), my passion was dance, which is why I minored in it at Mills. I was an intermediate-to-advanced dancer, having studied ballet, jazz, modern, African and Haitian Dance. I began dancing at 25 years old, when I quit smoking cigarettes in ‘82. I started studying with incredible teachers at the former Everybody’s Creative Art Center, now the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. During that time, I took 7-8 classes a week, on Saturday dancing 5.5 hours, with 3 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am grateful for the experience, my dance teachers are on the wall on the underpass at West Grand under the 580.

Learn more about Cheryl Davila online: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedInYouTubeRead more about Cheryl Davila on Berkeleyside. See complete 2020 election coverage on Berkeleyside.

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