Over the last four years, we have served alongside Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani, and we have seen how she listens to stakeholders with diverse viewpoints, pays attention to details, and builds consensus for cost-effective policies. We partnered with Rashi to fix our city’s street paving budget and reinstate police positions to ensure community safety. It was Rashi’s hard work that led the council to a unanimous vote for zoning the North Berkeley BART station for development — with a high number of affordable homes and a consensus design of seven stories. We need Rashi’s continued leadership on the city council to tackle our toughest challenges.

Rashi has more than a decade of state and local government experience. She previously worked for California’s Legislature, where she analyzed policies and budgets related to multibillion-dollar safety net programs for seniors and people with disabilities. She went on to manage a budget of more than $1 billion for San Francisco’s Human Services Agency, which provides health care, meals, and other essential support to needy families. Rashi’s skillset is essential to the work of the council.

Rashi works incredibly hard and treats everyone with respect. In preparation for the council’s vote on zoning the BART station, Rashi spent hours knocking on doors in the neighborhoods around the North Berkeley station to make sure she heard from a broad cross-section of the community. Significantly, she took the time to explain complicated state housing laws to the broader community through her newsletter, convincing us of the wisdom of zoning for a seven-story design. She also spent hours as part of the city team negotiating directly with BART in order to ensure that BART would enforce a consensus seven-story design on the selected developer. Rashi has been fearless in standing up for the creation of affordable housing citywide. As a result of her leadership, Berkeley will create a permanent supportive housing site for formerly homeless individuals.

Rashi took the lead in pushing the council to adequately fund street paving. Because of her professional background in public budgeting, Rashi seized on the fact that a dollar spent on street maintenance today saves $8 in future avoided reconstruction costs. She introduced legislation that we were delighted to co-sponsor that requested $8 million in additional ongoing resources — the amount that we know is needed to maintain the pavement condition of our streets and ensure safety for all users. She successfully secured $14 million in new funds for street paving in the city’s June budget, and she partnered with Councilmember Susan Wengraf and Mayor Jesse Arreguín to author a fiscal policy to ensure that we continue to adequately fund street paving.

Finally, we were proud to partner with Rashi to successfully reinstate police positions in the city’s budget after reaching a historic staffing low during the pandemic. Rashi recognizes that adequate police staffing is needed to do bike patrols, investigate catalytic converter thefts and other property crimes, and conduct traffic enforcement. Rashi also supports proven alternative responses to certain non-violent calls for service, such as mental health crises. But she has cautioned against piloting too many alternative approaches at once, arguing that new programs must be fiscally sustainable with performance metrics. The city council needs Rashi’s careful analysis and thoughtful decision-making.

We strongly encourage District 1 voters to re-elect Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani.

Lori Droste is the District 8 council member, Terry Taplin is the District 2 council member and Susan Wengraf is District 6 council member.

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail in Alameda County is Oct. 24, and the election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. We put together a guide to the essentials of how to register and vote, what’s on the ballot, voters’ rights and more.

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