Berkeley activists, renters and smart landlords have made the Berkeley Tenant Convention (also called the Affordable Housing Convention) a unique Berkeley tradition. Every two years, numerous community leaders and tenant activists come together to create a gathering whereby tenants and their allies select the most qualified candidates to represent the progressive agenda as elected Commissioners for the Rent Stabilization Board. For the 2016 election, the four candidates below were nominated by over 200 community members attending the Berkeley Tenant Convention to run for the pro-rent control slate.
Christina Murphy has been a tenant in Berkeley since 1997, and she has committed herself to passionately advocating for members of the community, such as tenants, individuals that are homeless, and underserved communities.
A year after moving into Berkeley, Christina was part of a fundraising team that helped raise over $10,000 in two hours for a South Berkeley program called “First Place Funded for Youth” which provided “Independent Living Skills (ILSP) and Subsidized Housing Vouchers for at-risk youth. Currently, the program has expanded to Oakland, with an office in downtown Oakland and a budget of $8.5 million, serving four Bay Area counties and now not only serving youth, but also providing aid for youth with children. The program recently expanded to Los Angeles.
In 2010, Christina was a victim of gentrification, and was forced to move out of her community to North Richmond, making it difficult for her to maintain her job in Berkeley because of transportation and housing expenses. Luckily, Christina was able to move back to Berkeley recently, and currently works at the Berkeley Drop-In Center, providing housing support services, which includes resources that are essential necessities, such as food, clothing, medical care, and transportation.
Over the years, and still continuing to do so, Christina has worked diligently with low-income communities and of color to provide mental health and health care services, employment opportunities, and aiding displaced tenants in Alameda County. She played a key role in the development of Alameda County’s Mental Health Services Act, Prevention and Early Intervention, and Workforce Education and Training programs.
If elected, Christina hopes to actively engage the Berkeley community and organize housing workshops, as she done in the past, to collaborate with property owners and tenants in order to offer support and solutions on how both parties can come together – not across from each other, but side by side as a unified community.
As a lifelong tenant, and father of two, Alejandro Soto-Vigil knows how critical affordable housing and rent controls are to maintaining stable neighborhoods and diverse families in our city.
If elected, he’ll advocate for policies that strengthen tenant protections, improve the safety and habitability of rental housing, inform tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities, require earthquake retrofits, and promote recycling and energy efficiency in apartments. Alejandro has always sought creative solutions, especially for problems facing the most vulnerable among the Berkeley community.
As a law student, Alejandro defended tenants against unfair eviction. As a Legislative Aide, Alejandro organized actions to regain illegally withheld security deposits, supported tenants displaced by recent Berkeley fires, and problem-solved to stay evictions. As Vice-Chair of the Housing Advisory Commission, Alejandro lobbied to strengthen the Relocation Ordinance and advocated for more affordable housing funding.
Alejandro will work to keep Berkeley a vibrant place where everyone can call home.
Leah Simon-Weisberg has been a tenant in Berkeley since 2009. She lives with her husband and daughter. Her daughter attends Malcolm X Elementary.
She has devoted nearly her entire legal career to fighting for tenants in California. Leah served as co-Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Network (EDN) in Los Angeles, California. At EDN, Leah litigated over 1,000 unlawful detainer cases on behalf of tenants facing eviction in Los Angeles County. She worked with Union de Vecinos in Los Angeles to successfully obtain Just Cause for Eviction Protections in Maywood, California.
After moving to Berkeley in 2009, she became the managing attorney of the Anti-Predatory Lending and Home Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Practice at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. In 2011, she joined Tenants Together (TT) as the Legal Director.
Over the last year, Leah has worked closely with tenant advocates around the Bay Area to strengthen tenant rights. She drafted the Richmond, and City of Alameda Ballot Measures that have qualified for the November 2016 ballot.
Before attending law school at Northeastern University, School of Law, Leah worked for Senator Barbara Boxer in her San Francisco Office and served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Morocco. She graduated from Earlham College and majored in Peace and Global Studies. She speaks Spanish, Moroccan Arabic and French.
Igor Tregub is an experienced housing, environmental justice, and labor advocate passionate about bringing diverse voices into the fold of the organizations he is a part of. He has previously served as an elected Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner and chaired its Budget and Personnel Committee, and is running again after being asked by community members to step up in the face of an unprecedented housing crisis in Berkeley.
As a Steering Committee member of the Berkeley Tenants Union, Igor helped resolve hundreds of tenant issues, allowing people and families to stay in our Berkeley community,. He helped secure millions of dollars for low-income housing as Vice Chair of the Housing Advisory Commission, and stopped the demolition of several rent-controlled buildings as the Vice Chair of the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board.
In addition, Igor serves as the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Vice Chair, Northern Alameda County Group Conservation Chair and Northern California Secretary of the California-Nevada Regional Conservation Committee. His service to the Democratic Party includes work as Parliamentarian and Pacific Region Director of the Young Democrats of America, President of the East Bay Young Democrats, and Delegate and Legislation Committee Member of the California Democratic Party. He is a former Alternate Member and current Associate Member on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.