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Candidate of the Future: newly elected Berkeley mayor offers beacon of hope

Berkeley in California has recently elected its first ever Latino Mayor, Jesse Arreguin, who is also the youngest Mayor to be appointed at the age of 32. This election is one that has unfairly been overlooked in the days since Republican nominee Donald Trump’s unexpected US presidential victory.

The new Mayor has already earned the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and was elected with just under 52 percent of the vote. Arreguin was said to be a ‘frontrunner’ in the mayoral race and his success marks a triumph for the youth-driven grassroots campaign; those who see a political future that is worlds away from the isolationist, nativist climate that has become prominent in the US and UK this year.

Arreguin’s progressive policies were chosen in favour of his main rival Laurie Capitelli, who earned 37 percent of the vote after six rounds of ranked-choice voting and votes were distributed.

The former University of California, Berkeley student commented upon winning the mayoral role saying: “While we’re moving into dark days for our country, I think Berkeley can be a beacon.”

Trump’s election goes against the values of Berkeley as a progressive city. Hundreds of students and residents marched in protest

That beacon is one that will very much be needed as Trump is poised to take over from Barack Obama and move into the White House in early January. Trump’s election goes against the values of Berkeley as a progressive city and hundreds of students and residents have since marched through Berkeley and Oakland in protest.

Thousands more Americans have expressed their dismay and deep sadness over Trump’s election, however Arreguin offers optimism for the future.

The young Arreguin is already extensively qualified, and has been involved in politics for over a decade.

As a student at UC Berkeley he held the position of Director of ASUC City Affairs Lobby and Housing Commission. Since 2008, he has represented Berkeley’s City Council District 4.

At the age of 20, he was elected to the Rent Stabilization Board – a position that is now vacant and looking to be filled.

Arreguin’s main focus and policies lay with addressing the city’s dire housing shortage with an emphasis on building affordable units, as well as tackling and preventing homelessness and further raising the minimum wage in the area. These policies offer a stark contrast to the vision that has dominated Trump’s campaign.

Considering his slogan “Make America Great Again,” it has to be questioned exactly who Trump is making the country great for; he certainly won’t benefit minorities (who are set to be the majority of the population by 2050) as suggested by his extreme plans targeted at specific ethnic and religious groups.  

Jesse Arreguin, on the other hand, looks set to fight for the issues that really matter to the future stability of the country.

Across the US, cries of “not my president” have filled countless American streets since Trump’s victory. People are publicly rejecting the rhetoric that brought him to power and what he represents.

The heavy task of the millennial generation is to advocate for a productive, values-based response

Olivia Emerald, a 24-year-old waitress from Portland, Maine, took an overnight bus in order to reach Washington, D.C. to protest and “respectfully decline” Trumps’ appointment.

Speaking to CNN, she made the argument that we should approach Trump’s presidency with grace when Obama eventually hands over the reins.

“This may be the worst decision America has ever made,” She admitted.

“Our hearts are broken, but we can’t let this country crumble because of hate. We can’t do that for the next generation.”

The wave of social unrest in America reaches across the country. Oakland has seen thousands of anti-Trump activists making a stand. A huge march took place in New York City immediately after the election, and protests continue today.

As Emerald advised, to sit and let the country crumble would be a mistake. Citizens should unite together against hatred to prevent political figures like Trump undermining the freedom of American citizens.

We have to think about the next generation and the type of world we want them to grow up in.

The heavy task of the millennial generation is to advocate a productive, values-based response to what has become obvious in this period of political change. In the coming decades, we hope to secure a more equitable future for America and for the world.

There will always be candidates like Jesse Arreguin to restore your faith in humanity. His election posits a shining example for others to follow in the wake of Trump’s rise to power.

Millennial activism is set to skyrocket after the recent political turmoil. Confident, connected young people who are hungry for change are set to embrace new modes of self-expression to cope with Trump’s presidency and whatever comes with it.

Hopefully, this will make way for a better string of candidates in the 2020 election.

It is unapologetic persistence, unrivalled passion, and deliberate political activism and engagement that will ensure a fresh crop of leaders such as Jesse Arreguin spring up in future elections

Whether or not rapper and all-round cultural influencer Kanye West does fulfil his promise and run for president, one thing is for sure. Millennials are fast earning a reputation for doing things differently, speaking up and leading the way towards a brighter vision of what America could be.

Young voters and activists have the opportunity to make important changes to right the wrongs of generations that went before them. We are watching the forces of liberal capitalism boil over, and we can see from Trump’ election that many people let down by that system are turning to nativism and racism as a solution.

It may seem like a momentous task, but momentum is often the starting point of real change.

All it takes is one person who cares deeply about something, enough to take a special interest in it. If that person speaks up and makes their voice heard, they’ve taken action and achieved a small victory that could lead to a bigger one. Individuals are the foundation change is successfully built upon.

It is unapologetic persistence, unrivalled passion, and deliberate political activism and engagement that will ensure a fresh crop of leaders such as Jesse Arreguin spring up in future elections. Millennials have a huge fight on their hands, but it is a fight we will undoubtedly win as long as we stand together and unite against division.

After all, love trumps hate.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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