The application period to fill a vacant Emeryville City Council seats is officially open. The vacancy came about as a result of second term Councilmember Ally Medina’s abrupt resignation back on December 20th.
The four current Emeryville councilmembers weighed in on the options for filling the seat at the January 17 meeting [2:18:28].
Other agenda items of note from the meeting were the swearing-in of new City Manager Paul Buddenhaggen and the return to in-person meetings on February 7th. The city will be using this meeting to test a hybrid format that will allow participates to speak remotely.
The Governor’s pandemic state of emergency will officially end on February 28 requiring local government meetings to be accessible to the public.
East Bay Times reporter Katie Lauer recently profiled the plight of some local elected officials including Medina and the challenges they face balancing the relatively low compensation with the time commitments. Emeryville has sought to address this issue by increasing councilmember pay while reducing their committee obligations.
Emeryville is among the smallest, least-populated cities in the Bay Area at 1.2 square miles and less than 13,000 residents. The city is not divided into districts but this equates to each of the five councilmembers representing about 2.5k residents.
By comparison, neighboring Oakland has seven council districts and a population of about 433,000 (averaging 61k constituents per councilmember but varies by district).
Council Presented Options by Staff
Emeryville city staff presented available options which included appointment as well as holding a special election. City Council opted to a hold a special election in 2021 under similar circumstances when Christian Patz abruptly resigned. Council was not given the option to appoint someone as at the time a majority of the sitting councilmembers were appointed (Bauters, Medina & Patz).
The cost of holding a special election was estimated to cost the city $157,000 (as much as $21 per voter) and could not be held until the next election cycle on November 7.
Council collectively scoffed at the costs with Mayor John Bauters also noting the strain Medina’s departure put on the others who needed to fill her seats on regional bodies and committees.
Only a single community member objected to the decision calling out Bauters’ outsized influence on any appointee.
Despite some reservations, they unanimously voted to fill the seat through appointment.
15-Day Application Period Opens
Thea city officially posted the application last Friday. To qualify to serve as a councilmember, the applicant must be a resident and registered voter in the City of Emeryville.
The application posted asks for the candidate’s experience on any city advisory boards, organization memberships, work & volunteer experience as well as a 300 word or less statement addressing their qualifications and preparation for serving.
The pool of losing candidates from the recent election is considered one possibility to fill the vacancy. Eugene Tssui has expressed interest while Brooke Westling and Sukhdeep Kaur have indicated they are still evaluating this when we inquired with them.
The deadline to apply is February 10 at 5:00 p.m. The appointed Councilmember’s term will expire in December 2024.
Council is slated to review the applications, conduct interviews and make an appointment by mid-March.
Apply online through the city website.