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Tuesday June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 24

Photo of Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Councilmember/Education Advocate
30,649 votes (28.2%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Improve public education and better prepare students for careers in the 21st century economy
  • Rebuild California's crumbling infrastructure
  • Continue California's leadership in fighting climate change



Profession:Palo Alto City Councilmember and Education Advocate
Councilmember, Palo Alto City Council — Elected position (2012–current)
Development Director, Silicon Valley Education Foundation (2014–2015)
Of Counsel, Merino Yebri, LLP (2012–2014)
Independent Monitoring Committee, Clean Safe Creeks and Natural Flood, Santa Clara Valley Water District — Elected position (2010–2013)
Commissioner, Palo Alto Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission — Appointed position (2010–2012)
Attorney, Latham & Watkins (2008–2011)


University of Southern California Law School Juris Doctor, Law (2008)
Georgetown University Bachelor of Arts, Political Science (2002)

Community Activities

Political Partner, Truman National Security Project (2013–current)
Advisory Board Member, Silicon Valley Chapter, The New Leaders Council (2010–2013)
President, Peninsula Democratic Coalition (2012–2013)


Marc Berman is a council member for the City of Palo Alto. A lawyer by training, Marc is the Development Director at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, a non-profit focused on STEM education and closing the achievement gap in public schools in Silicon Valley. 

Marc has been a leader on the City Council on issues such as infrastructure improvements and financial transparency. A member of Palo Alto’s Infrastructure Committee, Marc served on the campaign committee for Measure B, a ballot measure that passed with over 76% of the vote in 2014 to help fund public safety, street, sidewalk, and park improvements. This was the culmination of five years of work that Marc spent on infrastructure improvements, beginning with his appointment to Palo Alto’s Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC) in 2010.

As chair of the Finance Committee, Marc worked with the Office of Management and Budget to create the Budget in Brief. Rather than expect residents to sort through 800+ pages of budget documents, the Budget in Brief provides the public with an easy to understand 7-page overview of Palo Alto’s $470 million budget, increasing transparency and public awareness of how their money is spent. 

Driven by his passion for service and for the area where he grew up, Marc has become a leader in numerous regional civic organizations, including serving as president of the Peninsula Democratic Coalition. Marc is also a founding member of the Advisory Board of New Leaders Council – Silicon Valley, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that trains civic-minded young professionals in how to create positive change in our community. In 2010, wanting to give back to the schools he attended, Marc volunteered on the Measure A campaign committee to raise funds to provide additional resources and opportunities to students in Palo Alto's public schools.

Marc began his public service in Palo Alto, working in Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s District Office after his freshman year in college. Marc got his first taste of campaigning the following summer when, as an intern for Congressman Mike Honda’s campaign, he often spoke to students at local high schools about the benefits of community involvement and encouraged the students to get involved themselves.

Marc graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Political Science. While in college, Marc served as a summer analyst in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Marc went on to graduate from law school at the University of Southern California, where he was elected president of the Student Bar Association and served for two years on the Southern California Law Review.

Prior to his work in the non-profit sector, Marc was an attorney with Latham & Watkins LLP and Merino Yebri, LLP. Marc has successfully represented pro bono clients seeking protection under the Violence Against Women Act, asylum in the United States due to political persecution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has served as pro bono counsel to Spark, a national youth development non-profit.

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (6)

Climate changes and the continuing drought worry many in California. What new strategies do you believe would ensure that California is able to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific. 
Answer from Marc Berman:

At the local level, I have been working to help prevent flood damage and advocating for environmentally conscious solutions to the state’s water shortage, including:

  • Serving on the Citizen Oversight Committee for the Clean Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
  • Supporting the coequal goals for the Delta of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability, as required by state law. He opposes the Governor’s Delta water tunnel plan because it does not meet both of these goals.

Due to climate change, we must plan for a future with more severe droughts and less water. I will advocate for a comprehensive approach that includes:

  • Developing and implementing cheaper, quicker, and more efficient ways to conserve water while simultaneously offering long-term solutions to Southern California cities and Central Valley farmers. I will promote efforts to capture and recycle more water, invest in wastewater recycling plants, rainwater collection systems, and greywater systems, and incentivize residents to switch from water thirsty lawns to water-efficient landscape design.
  • Establish plans to incentivize farmers to invest in drip irrigation systems that will conserve significant amounts of water, creating a more sustainable system for the future. 80% of our water is used for agricultural purposes, and far too many California farmers still use flood irrigation to produce their crops.
  • Protecting against sea level rise by fully funding the $1.5 billion it will cost to restore 54,000 acres of wetlands around the bay. Sea level rise threatens to contaminate up to 38% of California’s drinking water supply, destroy billions of dollars worth of homes, roads, and critical infrastructure, and disrupt communities across the Bay Area. Restoring our wetlands is the best prevention measure we have - but we must act now.
  • Leading the way on sustainability. California companies are pioneering software and devices that can drastically reduce the water we consume, including behavioral software to educate utility customers about their water use and suggest easy ways to cut back, sensors to prevent unnecessary landscape watering, and greywater systems to reuse household wastewater for nonpotable uses. These technologies should be deployed statewide with incentives for municipal and consumer adoption.
  • Modernizing and strengthening the levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that safeguard the freshwater supply for 25 million Californians. The current levee system is vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters that could trigger breaches and long-term shortages of freshwater for much of the state.


Many Californians are concerned about the influence of money in politics. What can the state legislature do to ensure that decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents?
Answer from Marc Berman:

I fully support the DISCLOSE Act of 2015 and efforts to overturn Citizens United. We should do all we can to increase transparency, and reduce the influence of money in politics and the need for candidates to raise large amounts of money. I would like to see us move toward a system of publicly financing campaigns if we can identify adequate funding.

The legislature should also continually look for ways to strengthen ethics laws. I was disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed legislation authored by incumbent 24th District Assemblymember Rich Gordon to extend lobbying disclosure rules to lobbying done for state procurement contracts. 

There are a variety of proposals to raise California's minimum wage. Many of these proposals face opposition from business groups who are concerned that they would kill jobs. Do you support increasing the minimum wage in California?  In your answer please explain your position on the relationship between wages and jobs with specific reference to the situation in your district. 
Answer from Marc Berman:

I have led the effort on the Palo Alto City Council to put a plan in place to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, and I support the plan passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. The 24th Assembly District is in the midst of an affordability crisis, and raising the minimum wage begins to address the difficulting many working families are having affording the high cost of living in our area. I am mindful of the impact raising the minimum wage may have on employers, but keeping the minimum wage far below the cost of living, which leads to greater demand on social services, is a subsidy the state can't afford and shouldn't have to pay.

What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?
Answer from Marc Berman:

My priorities as a state legislator will be to secure and maintain adequate and additional funding for public education in California so that we can close the achievement gap in our schools; rebuild California by repairing our crumbling infrastructure; and leverage technology and innovation to combat climate change and reduce our carbon emissions while creating good, living wage jobs here in California.

If elected, what solutions do you propose to deal with the high cost of living in the Bay Area?
Answer from Marc Berman:

The 24th Assembly District is a wonderful place to live. Our economy is strong, many communities have high-performing public schools, and our open space and coastline are breathtaking. But these positive qualities have combined to create a housing and affordability crisis that we must address before it threatens to undo much of the progress we’ve made. Rents have increased 43-63% across the district over the past five years. 

I have helped to tackle this challenge head-on in Palo Alto, including:

  • Leading the effort on the City Council to put a plan in place to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.
  • Opposing the city’s vehicle habitation ban so people with nowhere else to go could sleep in their cars rather than on the streets. The ban was eventually overturned.
  • In order to foster a community discussion on the housing crisis, I helped create a group of Palo Alto residents focused on finding solutions to the housing crisis.
  • Protecting Palo Alto’s small businesses by prioritizing ground floor retail in the city’s commercial corridors. 

Solving this afoordability crisis means taking a balanced approach that prioritizes affordable housing, transit-oriented development, investing in public transportation, and better pay and benefits for workers, including:

  • Increasing the state affordable housing tax credit. Last year the legislature passed two bills with overwhelming bipartisan support, Assembly Bill 35 and Senate Bill 377, that would have increased the affordable housing tax credit by $500 million, leveraged an additional $1 billion in federal funds, and increased the value of the state affordable housing tax credit by 40%. Unfortunately, Governor Brown vetoed the legislation. California must increase the amount of affordable housing tax credits to a level capable of sustaining necessary development.
  • Passing an affordable housing bond. In 2014, Californians approved Proposition 41 to provide $600 million in funding for affordable housing for veterans, and last year San Francisco passed a $310 million affordable housing bond. We need to broaden that approach to provide funding and financing for affordable housing projects across the state. We should pass a statewide affordable housing bond measure, and we should be meeting current and future affordable housing needs.
  • Improving access to child care. The skyrocketing cost of housing is exacerbated for working families by the expense and lack of access to high quality child care services. Without subsidies, child care is only affordable for 20% of California families, and current subsidies often aren’t enough to make up the difference. We can close the gap through tax credits for employer-funded child care, expanded subsidies, and finally offering universal preschool. High quality child care should be accessible and affordable for every child in California.


What steps are needed to improve region-wide transportation planning and the growing traffic congestion?
Answer from Marc Berman:

Silicon Valley’s prosperous economy is creating tens of thousands of jobs, but that growth is also creating increasing traffic congestion and strain on our public transportation networks. I have a track record of improving transportation in Palo Alto:

  • In 2010, I was appointed to Palo Alto’s Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC), which developed a comprehensive plan for Palo Alto to repair its infrastructure backlog and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t fall behind again.
  • In order to foster a community discussion on the housing and transportation crisis, I helped bring together a group of Palo Alto residents to focus on finding forward-thinking, creative solutions to these complex issues.

I will use my experiences in improving transportation infrastructure to Sacramento to improve public transit options, improve road quality and safety, and prepare our transportation system for the future, including:

  • Completing the Caltrain electrification project will almost triple current capacity, take thousands of cars off the road, and relieve current and future traffic congestion up and down the Peninsula. Working with the federal government and local agencies, California should fully fund this vital project to ensure completion by 2020.
  • Reviving the Dumbarton Rail Corridor. Due to rising housing prices, more and more workers are commuting from the East Bay to jobs on the Peninsula, but there aren’t adequate public transportation options to serve them. Commuter rail via the Dumbarton Rail Corridor would reduce congestion on local roads and bridges and connect Caltrain to public transit networks in the East Bay, including BART. Working with local government and private sector partners, the state should provide funding and logistical support to the Dumbarton Rail Corridor project.
  • Repairing our crumbling highways. A recent national study ranked California’s highways as the worst in America, with 51% rated poor. This costs California motorists $44 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and congestion-related delays. Drivers in the Bay Area pay an extra $1,700 a year. No stretch of California state highway should be rated in poor condition.
  • Developing a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations. Governor Brown has set a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. But while we have encouraged automakers to develop these vehicles, and consumers to purchase them, we haven’t installed a network of electric vehicle charging stations capable of reliably keeping these vehicles on the road. California must have a statewide network of charging stations capable of meeting current and future demand.
  • Incentivizing transit oriented development. Locating new housing and commercial development close to planned and existing public transportation hubs makes it easier for commuters to utilize public transportation, thereby reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. The legislature should provide financial incentives and regulatory relief to local governments to enable more transit oriented development.


Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $925,110

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of BERMAN, MARC
California Association of Realtors
Employees of Sutter Hill Ventures
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council
California State Council of Laborers

More information about contributions

By State:

California 95.98%
New York 0.72%
Oregon 0.62%
Connecticut 0.57%
Other 2.10%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.40%)
Small contributions (0.60%)

By Type:

From organizations (39.58%)
From individuals (60.42%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

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