Housing is the issue that has been redefining politics and policies in every major city. Wealthy land developers and investment teams have been able to manipulate the market to buy up property, whether single-family homes or large plots for market-rate development.

Now is the moment Berkeley residents must decide what the future of our city will look like — and who it is for. Berkeley is well on its way to becoming a city of extremes.

Wealthy property owners will reside in high-rise apartments while essential workers like teachers, city employees, artists and small business owners will be under-housed in small, expensive units or will be forced to leave. Corporate retailers like Starbucks and Targets will proliferate downtown while many local businesses will fail or be displaced. Teachers would have to commute long distances, making it harder to recruit and retain. The remaining 8% of the Black residents who have not yet been displaced will likely continue to diminish. To avoid this outcome, we must prioritize affordable housing. Affordable housing will allow the city to maintain its diversity while supporting its small businesses.

Mari Mendonca is our city council candidate in District 8 who will prioritize affordable housing. She recognizes that the incapacity of purchasing power within the community is hindering the options people have available regarding housing. For example, grown children who wish to return home to Berkeley after college can’t. The costs of living (either renting or buying a home) are exorbitant.

The city council has allowed the development of market-rate housing to exceed its current goals. They are now responsible for bringing balance back and creating the affordable housing we need.

Mari will bring a depth of experience and analytical skills from her work as a community organizer and vice chair of the Housing Advisory Commission to the council in service to the community. Mari Mendonca is the city council candidate for this moment. She can move us forward together and help create a city for all Berkeleyans.

Mary-Lee Smith has been a resident of District 8 for 11 years. She dropped out as a candidate because she believed Mari Mendonca’s experience and expertise deserved to be on the City Council.

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.

Here are some other helpful election resources:

See complete 2022 election coverage on Berkeleyside.