Real estate interests spend heavily to support property-friendly rent board candidates – Berkeleyside

Twelve people are running for five seats on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. Top row: Bahman Ahmadi, Bianca Zahrai, Soulmaz Panahi, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Wendy Saenz Hood Neufeld and Carole Marasovic; bottom row, Mari Mendonca, Pawel Moldenhawer, Dan McDunn, Andy Kelley, Dominique Walker and Xavier Johnson. Courtesy: candidates

For the first time in a decade, there is a full slate of five property owner-oriented candidates running for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board — and real estate interests are backing them big time.

Bahman Ahmadi, Dan McDunn, Soulmaz Panahi, Wendy Saenz Hood Neufeld, and Pawel Moldenhawer make up the “Homeowners for Berkeley Rent Board” slate.” They are running on a platform on returning homeowners and small landlords to the rent board to balance out the current roster. There are five rent board seats up for grabs.

Their main competitors are the “Right to Housing” slate which bills itself as being tenant-friendly. Current Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner Leah Simon-Weisberg is on the slate, as are Xavier Johnson, Dominque Walker and Andy Kelley. Mari Mendonca was appointed to the rent board in October 2019 and is running to be elected for the first time.

Two candidates are not in any slate: Carole Marasovic and Bianca Zahrai.

Since Oct. 9, the National Association of Realtors Fund has spent $80,800 to support four candidates.

Since Oct.