Deborah Matthews, Gets It Done.
A Commitment to Equity and Community
Deborah is a firm believer that politics is personal. For more than 30 years, Deborah has been active in advancing the economic well-being of her neighbors in Berkeley. As the Chair of the Berkeley Zoning Board and Housing Commission, and Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission over a span of 30 years, she helped establish countless small businesses in Berkeley. She is the first female African-American unanimously elected to serve as the President of the Berkeley Democratic Club, in its 85-year history, the BDC is Alameda County’s oldest and largest Democratic club. Her background in political science and business as an alumna at The Ohio State University, a real estate broker and educator has afforded her expertise in equitable and people-centric community development.
Deborah’s comprehensive knowledge of city government and its complex processes have enabled her to lead the development of affordable housing for seniors, students, formerly incarcerated neighbors, and low-income families. She has actively confronted the historic inequities in her community by demanding quality assurance construction and abundant amenities in the neighborhoods of our city that have suffered from the worst consequences of disinvestment and neglect.
Deborah is committed to uniting South Berkeley by listening and responding to the concerns of all of our neighbors. As your city council member, Deborah will keep residents, families and their collective dreams at the center of her efforts.
A politics worthy of their hope and support. Deborah will bring her knowledge, integrity, passion, and unwavering commitment to justice to help ensure South Berkeley is a safe, affordable, and economically thriving community for everyone.
A Childhood Activist
Like most of the communities in 1960’s America, Deborah’s rural Ohio hometown was segregated. From a young age, she was deeply aware of the everyday struggles and careful movements of her tirelessly devoted and hardworking parents.
When her parents were denied a home loan in the predominantly white neighborhood, her mother and father organized their community to pressure the local banks to adopt fair lending practices for home loans and defend African Americans’ rights to purchase a property. When Deborah and the neighborhood children wanted to be included in the summer recreation activities, her family demanded pools be opened up to black children.
With the support of her community and parents, at just 9 years old, she stood in front of the local YMCA’s all-white board of directors and asked to be the first person of color to use the segregated pool and become a member at the whites-only YMCA. Years later, Deborah became a certified lifeguard.
These childhood experiences opened Deborah’s eyes to the power of organizing for — and achieving — meaningful change. Deborah learned that her voice had power. As a young leader she committed to overcoming the ugly politics of racism and exclusion, she knew she had to take action to achieve her goals and the vision of justice for everyone.