Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett

They’re going to need a really big table for debates next year in the 15th Assembly District. First-term Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett filed an intent to run Tuesday for the seat being vacated by current Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Bartlett becomes the ninth candidate–all Democrats–to file for the June 2018 primary election.

Bartlett’s interest in the state assembly comes just 10 months after winning election to Berkeley’s District 3 council seat, but believes he has accomplished a number of important initiatives in the city during his short time in office.

In announcing his candidacy, Bartlett highlighted a focus on housing displacement and climate change. “Everyone in the East Bay deserves a home,” said Bartlett. “We must end policies that displace seniors, people of color, working families and poor people from their homes. We must house the homeless, create green jobs and protect our freedom. The fight is right here and the time is right now.”

In a statement Wednesday, Bartlett touts creating a first-in-the-nation anti-displacement public legal advocate in Berkeley, enacting a community benefits ordinance along with Mayor Jesse Arreguin, and other city legislation to create affordable housing.

Bartlett says discriminatory zoning laws for housing is the “new apartheid. “We’re starting our campaign in a special place,” said Bartlett. “When apartheid was raging in South Africa, the people of the East Bay–starting right here in Berkeley–stood together to end it. Displacement and economic inequality are the new apartheid. That’s simply not acceptable.”

The 15th Assembly District is made up of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, and North Oakland.

The seat opened up for a number of potential challengers last April when Thurmond announced he would not seek re-election in order to run for the state superintendent of public instruction.

In the meantime, nine candidates, including Bartlett have filed statements with the intent to run next June. For the entire list of AD15 candidates and other East Bay races, click here for the East Bay Citizen 2018 Candidates List.