Opinion: Terry Taplin, a candidate for the Berkeley City Council,  is the climate justice leader of our dreams

When it comes to solving our climate and housing crises, we believe that Terry Taplin is the most inspiring, grounded, and action-oriented candidate running for Berkeley City

When it comes to solving our climate and housing crises, we believe that Terry Taplin (D2) is the most inspiring, grounded, and action-oriented candidate running for Berkeley City Council.

A working-class, Black, gay man who grew up in West Berkeley and attended Berkeley public schools, Terry is an energetic and practical community organizer, an innovative thinker, and a deeply engaged and empathetic collaborator focused on solving our climate and housing crisis.

Terry sees taking immediate steps to address the climate crisis as an opportunity to create multiple benefits for our community. His Berkeley Green New Deal would:

  • Prioritize transit-oriented affordable housing, services, and amenities
  • Increase disaster and climate resilience
  • Invest in green and sustainable street and stormwater infrastructure
  • Create a vibrant city for walking, biking, and public transit
  • Support a just transition through union jobs and anti-displacement protections

Terry loves West Berkeley, a historically working-class African American, Latinx, and immigrant community that is home to ecological gems like Strawberry Creek Park and Aquatic Park. And like us, he is deeply concerned about the serious climate and racial justice challenges it faces.

Sea level rise threatens West Berkeley’s marina and Aquatic Park. Old stormwater infrastructure contributes to flooding. Wildfire smoke and I-80 vehicle emissions choke our lungs. The COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality, traffic injuries, and gun violence disproportionately impact Black and brown community members. The housing crisis continues to displace district residents causing us to lose the diversity that is at the core of why we love our city.

We believe that Terry is a leader whose lived experience, progressive values, fresh perspective, and collaborative approach can help us deliver innovative and effective solutions that address these challenges. He is a proud pedestrian, cyclist, transit rider, and safe streets champion in a city where transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Terry also understands those struggling with Berkeley’s housing crisis. Terry and his husband lost their Southside rent-controlled apartment just weeks before their wedding. The experience, and his family’s deep roots in Berkeley, called him into the fight for affordable housing and strong anti-displacement tenant protections. Terry’s grandmother lives in South Berkeley and he provides at-home bedside elder-care for his mother in West Berkeley.

Most importantly, Terry understands the links between housing, transportation, social justice, and climate change. Berkeley is not on track to meet our climate goals in large part because we are failing to decrease transportation emissions significantly. Our housing shortage increases transportation emissions by displacing middle- and low-income residents and forcing workers into increasingly long commutes. Terry’s affordable housing for all platform will increase the production of middle, low, and very low-income homes near transit and services. Doing so will reduce transportation emissions by making clean, green, active transportation the easy choice for more residents and visitors.

As the vice-chair of the city’s Transportation Commission, Terry has focused on West Berkeley’s disproportionately deteriorating streets and sidewalks and stormwater infrastructure. He also helped pass the Vision Zero Action Plan which seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries in Berkeley, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. He is excited about increasing investments in green infrastructure solutions like permeable pavement and rain gardens that not only help address flooding and remove stormwater pollutants, but also create beautiful and safe places for walking, biking, and gathering. He supports a just transition, where the building of green infrastructure can create good union jobs.

In addition, Terry is a key member of the coalition advocating for the formation of a new Berkeley Department of Transportation as part of the process of re-imagining public safety. BerkDOT would prioritize reducing transportation emissions and traffic violence without relying on armed police. His goal is vibrant neighborhoods, where all residents feel safe walking, biking, and taking transit.

Terry Taplin believes in Berkeley’s ambitious targets for reducing emissions, but he also understands that they are meaningless without action. Terry Taplin shows up, listens, studies issues, and puts his progressive values into action. As the District 2 Councilmember, he will build coalitions and collaborate with community members, councilmembers, and regional leaders. He has attracted an impressive array of endorsements because of his strong platform and community relationships. These endorsements include State Senator Nancy Skinner, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, and a supermajority of current City Councilmembers. Berkeley leaders are eager to work with Terry to advance his vision. Terry Taplin and his progressive coalition of supporters will serve District 2, and all of Berkeley, well.

Ben Gerhardstein is a Walk Bike Berkeley coordinating committee member and former transportation commissioner. Rigel Robinson is a Berkeley City Council member. Lori Droste is a Berkeley City Council member, budget chair, and the city of Berkeley’s Vision Zero and Missing Middle Housing author Anna Lappé is a sustainable food advocate, author of Diet for a Hot Planet. Ana Vasudeo is a Walk Bike Berkeley member and candidate for Berkeley School Board. Barnali Ghosh is chair of the Berkeley Transportation Commission and on the coordinating committee of Walk Bike Berkeley. Darrell Owens is a member of the Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission and a 4th generation West Berkeley native. Shane Krpata is a planning commissioner, vice-chair of the Public Works Commission, and Vision Zero Action Plan advisor for Berkeley. Nick Swanson-Hysell is an Earth scientist and the Safe Routes to School Champion for Jefferson Elementary School where his daughter attends.