Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has spent his entire life fighting for justice. He was elected mayor on November 8, 2016, becoming the first Latino and youngest person elected to the office in a century.
The son and grandson of farmworkers, Jesse was born in Fresno and raised in San Francisco. He grew up in a working-class household, where his parents instilled the values of hard work, public service, and giving back to others. When Jesse was young, his family was pushed out of their home as San Francisco housing market skyrocketed due to owner-move-in evictions and rent increases. Jesse knows how disruptive and harmful evictions are to working families, and how essential housing security is for the success of families and children.
As a youth, Jesse was inspired by the life and leadership of Cesar Chavez, who taught him that one person, despite all odds, can stand up and make a difference.
Chavez became a hero for Jesse, and at the age of 9, Jesse helped lead efforts to establish Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco.
The budding activist was also motivated by the social movements of the era: the battles against apartheid in South Africa, for democracy in China, and for farmworkers’ rights in California and across the nation. Experiencing these movements at a very early age shaped Jesse’s lifelong commitment to fighting for social justice.
On his first visit to UC Berkeley as a high school student, Jesse fell in love with the city and knew this was where he was meant to be. At Cal, Jesse led efforts to increase student housing and fought for the interests of students in City Hall as the ASUC City Affairs Director. In 2007, Jesse became the first in his family to graduate college.
Following graduation, Jesse served on Berkeley’s Housing Advisory Commission, where he helped secure funding for hundreds of new affordable units, crafted the Condominium Conversion Ordinance, strengthened inclusionary housing policies, and fought for City funding for student cooperative housing. In 2004, he was elected citywide to serve on the Rent Stabilization Board. As Chair of the Rent Board, he strengthened renter protections to help keep families in their homes.
Jesse was elected District 4 Councilmember in 2008, and worked to expand affordable housing, helped raise the city’s minimum wage and co-wrote the Downtown Plan to revitalize the heart of the city. While a councilmember, Jesse authored more than 300 pieces of successful legislation.