Name: Aidan Hill, 27, Berkeley Homeless Commission vice-chair; UC Berkeley student
What office/district are you are running for? Berkeley mayor
What is the main reason you are running? We are at a moment in history where the political decisions we make now will affect the rest of our collective history. As humans, we have the ability to protect our commons: the land, the sea, and the air. We also have the ability for great chaos such as nuclear weapons, land degradation, and the stain of poverty that denies basic human rights. True equity is out of reach for too many people in the city of Berkeley. Climate change, corona-virus, and digital misinformation continue to divide us. Families sacrifice their peace of mind to meet their basic needs and many residents have fallen through our social safety net, relying on mutual aid to get by. Our leaders, now more than ever, must be willing to fight for our future generations.
Why are you qualified? I am a student of UC Berkeley, a dedicated community activist, and vice-chair of the city of Berkeley Homeless Commission. I have focused my education and political activism on local development with an emphasis on climate resilience. In 2017 I joined the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) and influenced lawmakers to support the plastic bag ban. When smog from the Paradise fires covered Berkeley I redirected campaign funds to disaster preparedness responses including providing masks for the Southside community, I focused on parks as temporary refuge spaces during emergencies. In 2019, I was appointed to the Homeless Commission, promoting legislation urging our city to prioritize measures O and P money for food, water, trash removal for our homeless population.
What sets you apart from other candidates? What distinguishes me from other candidates is that I am deeply rooted in my community. We have a duty as a community to preserve and protect our city of Berkeley for future generations. As the UC Berkeley student running for office in this 2020 election cycle which gives me access to global scholars in climate change and integrative technologies. I will ensure compliance of all open-meeting laws and encourage residents participation in digital and in-person meetings. I envision a Berkeley with an extensive network of bicycle lanes where our city partners with cooperatives to provide free and community serviced bicycles for residents. As an alternative to liquor stores, I support family and worker-owned cooperative gardens that support schools and neighborhood associations forming garden-to-cafeteria programs for schools, hospitals, and mental health facilities. As mayor, I will work to make sure quality child care is available for all parents who are engaged in paid employment, higher education, and job training. I support the reclassification of activities such as volunteerism, domestic work and child-rearing as contributions to the economy.
What brought you to Berkeley and when did you come? In 2015, I graduated from Riverside City College with a degree in Communications Studies with Distinction. Dedicated to remaining in the California public school system, I chose UC Berkeley to make their home and learn from leading scholars on climate change and public policy. Inspired by building tiny houses with Youth Spirit Artwork, and volunteering with East Bay Food Not Bombs at People’s Park, I began to emphasize the role of basic needs to make Berkeley a welcoming city.
What are the three biggest challenges for Berkeley in the next five years? Climate change as a whole will affect Berkeley dramatically by 2025. Floods, heatwaves, earthquakes, pollutants, and decreasing farmland are all significant issues facing our city. Berkeley lacks maintained and public open spaces accessible to residents. Limited health coverage and social safety nets strain neighborhoods and commercial districts. Poverty creates the condition of environmental and social inequities. Berkeley must begin to address environmental and social costs to development.
What are your ideas to begin to solve them? As mayor of Berkeley, my budget priorities account for both environmental and social costs such as healthcare, public assets and environmental protections. Regular examination of spending programs should determine revision or discontinuation. Modernize, and expand our city’s drinking water and wastewater treatment. I support a budget that strengthens public investments towards building and repairing city-owned housing units, and expanded services to include universal mental health coverage and regenerative agriculture led by family and cooperative farmers. I will advance complete streets and safety first outcomes, pathways to home-ownership and support for small businesses. I support no-cost childcare and consider domestic work as contributions to the economy. Community centers that prepare legal aid, dispute resolution and community emergency response teams. Bulk purchases for personal protective equipment and essential medical items such as insulin and dialysis with a goal of universal coverage by 2025.
What is your most inspired/unique idea for Berkeley? Financing of our health care system to include dental, mental, pharmaceutical, chiropractic, vision, and hospice care. Provide a public option that includes dental, mental health, primary care and nutritional health at below-market co-pay options. Safe prenatal care, including access to natural birthing alternatives and expansion of child-care and early childhood development for all Berkeley residents. Support paid sick leave and paid family medical leave for all workers in Berkeley.
How will you be accessible to constituents? As your mayor, it is my responsibility to steward our land and be accessible to Berkeleyans through mediums such as NextDoor, emails as well as safe and physically distant gatherings. I welcome residents to speak directly with my staff about issues concerning their wellbeing. As your mayor, it is my responsibility to steward our land and be accessible to Berkeleyans through mediums such as NextDoor, emails as well as safe and physically distant gatherings.
Why should voters choose you over the incumbent? I support a culture of openness in government and the Freedom of Information Act as a way of guaranteeing access to government decision-making. Ensure compliance of all open-meeting laws, e.g., the “Brown Act,” at every level of government for holding public hearings, procedures for informing the citizenry about upcoming government actions, citizens’ rights to discuss these actions, and opportunities to do so. I support the right to accessible and affordable utilities, heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit. Support advanced communications systems affordable and equitably available to all Berkeley schools and libraries that are open source and encrypted.
Are you using public financing? No
How much money do you expect to spend on your campaign? $6,000-$10,000
Share a personal interest or passion people might be surprised to learn about. I’m really interested in gardening and environmental design. Likewise, I am a national thespian and have played theatre roles such as Jean Valjean and Scrooge.
Learn more about Aidan Hill online: Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Medium • YouTube
Read more about Aidan Hill on Berkeleyside. See complete 2020 election coverage on Berkeleyside.