Ben Gould is a Cal graduate student in Public Policy and Environmental Engineering. Learn more about him: www.bengould.org
1 – What specific regulations do you support the City of Berkeley adopting regarding the minimum wage and paid leave?
I support the consensus measure adopted by Berkeley City Council on Friday, August 26th.
2 – Do you support “sit-lie” laws like the one Berkeley tried to introduce in 2012?
No. I believe Berkeley’s houseless residents deserve respect and fair treatment – not criminalization for wanting somewhere to sit or lie down.
3 – What policies do you support implementing on the use of surveillance technology (surveillance cameras on streets, license plate readers, drones, etc.) by local law enforcement in Berkeley?
I am not excited about surveillance technology. However, I believe in some cases, it can help improve enforcement and fine collection without serious violations of privacy – e.g. traffic cameras that read the license plate when speeding or violating a red light, or license plate readers for parking meter enforcement. I am more comfortable with monitoring vehicles than individuals directly – individuals always have a choice whether or not to use a vehicle, and most can choose other modes of transportation if privacy is a concern.
4 – What will you do to address problems related to police brutality and misconduct in Berkeley?
I support a comprehensive review and, if appropriate, overhaul of our policing system. Our police institutions were founded in racism, as state-sanctioned enactors of violence to protect white property owners, and I do not believe that is the sort of system we want today. However, its legacy is still abundantly evident in police forces throughout the nation, including our own in Berkeley.
I think it is appropriate to set aside the notion of policing and consider instead what services Berkeley residents call upon the current police force to provide, and whether a new type of program can be developed to serve residents more effectively, or the police system can be adequately reformed to meet today’s needs.
5 – What is your specific position regarding development in Berkeley?
I generally support new construction in Berkeley, especially mixed-use projects built for transit and walkability. I believe in having strong but fair affordability and environmental requirements. We need more market-rate housing to ensure newcomers don’t drive displacement, but also more affordable housing to protect our low-income families. I recognize and respect that Berkeley has many people who are strong advocates for affordability – I trust them to look out for low-income residents. I want to ensure that there remains a market for middle-income residents by building new market-rate housing to absorb the demand from the rich, so that we don’t end up like Palo Alto but with affordable housing for low-income people.
6 – How do you propose Berkeley address the causes and effects of climate change? Do you have specific policy recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Berkeley? How do you propose it prepare for sea level rises?
I support Berkeley’s aggressive emission reduction goals, but the Climate Action Plan fails to address emissions from natural gas (which account for more than 35% of greenhouse gas emissions citywide). As Chair of the Community Environmental Advisory Commission, I have recommended that City Council begin to require new construction not to install natural gas-fired heating, water heating, or cooking equipment, and being to develop a plan to phase out natural gas from existing buildings. With California’s high renewable portfolio standard and Alameda County’s new Community Choice Aggregation coming online, Berkeley residents will soon be able to have carbon-free electricity, and decarbonize their households.
Sea level rise, on the other hand, poses a major threat to Berkeley – particularly West Berkeley. I believe we need to develop a real plan to understand what areas will be at risk and decide what sort of strategy to adopt to adapt to rising seas.
7 – How do you propose Berkeley should respond to formerly incarcerated citizens re-entering the community? What will you do to support community-based support services for formerly incarcerated citizens?
I support formerly incarcerated citizens re-entering the community. It is not an area I currently have expertise in, but I trust City staff and our existing community-based support services to develop recommendations.
8 – Can you share an instance where you have shown moral courage? (i.e. standing up for your values in the face of opposition or other negative consequences).
Yes – I frequently advocate for building more market-rate housing in front of audiences that are generally opposed to it (and liable to express their opposition). However, I believe that the only way to make progress is to openly and fairly discuss our values and perspectives and find areas of agreement – hiding or misrepresenting my values would do a disservice to everyone involved.
9 – How many individuals have contributed to your campaign? Do you or your campaign have a financial relationship with a member of the ACDCC? Who and in what capacity?
As of August 27th, my campaign has received 128 donations from about as many individuals. Neither I nor my campaign have a financial relationship with a member of the ACDCC.
10 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
As a Berkeley native and Cal graduate student in Public Policy and Environmental Engineering, I’m excited to be running for Mayor. I believe we need to do more to address housing affordability, reinvest in our parks and infrastructure, and improve environmental sustainability. The old approaches to these issues aren’t enough – we need new ideas and new leadership, and that’s why I’m running. My background is in sustainability: the idea that social justice, environmental protection, and economic prosperity can – and must – be achieved together. I am enthusiastically and unapologetically pro-housing, transit, biking, walking, parks, infrastructure, education, and environment. I believe in a Berkeley that provides equal access to opportunity, promotes diversity of thought, and leads on social justice and environmental issues. I combine a set of progressive values with five years of nonprofit leadership experience and a problem-solving approach to policymaking in order to move our city forward. I am proud to have the support of Daniel M. Kammen, Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley; Sonja Trauss, Founder of the SF Bay Area Renter’s Federation; and many others. They all believe in my passion, vision, and empathy for all residents of Berkeley. I would love to have your support as well.