Who to vote for today for those that have not already voted? Well that comes down to your personal priorities. All candidates support key initiatives like bikeability and affordability, but will they make them a priority when on council is the question. If Public Safety is a top priority, The Emeryville Police Officer’s Association has endorsed Engel, Collins and Bauters. If advancing Social Justice causes are your top priority like our current council majority, then you should vote for the candidates that they are supporting which are Patz, Medina & Bauters.
My personal criterion is simple. I want a healthy debate on issues with varied opinions. I think the worst possible outcome is getting five people up there that all agree with each other without dissent. The “groupthink” mentality that we’ve witnesses for two years that has eroded democracy in our town (sans Councilmember Davis who has shown to be the only candidate to express any reservations about our recent policies). I want councilmembers that will complement and even counterbalance the skills and ideas of the existing duo of Scott Donahue (Teacher/Artist) and Dianne Martinez (Mother/TV Producer) to create a council capable of solving the challenges our community faces.
EMERYVILLE CITY COUNCIL VOTER GUIDE:
John T. Van Geffen: Attorney/Father/Volunteer
Van Geffen is a relative newcomer to our town having only lived here for two years. He has no track record of local involvement, but has planted roots by purchasing a home and raising a family. There have been some growing pains for him as he looks to digest the complicated dynamic and history of our town. An attorney by trade, he should possess the skills to grow into this role.
Van Geffen has positioned himself as the “change” candidate by going on the offensive against our current council and promising to make resident priorities his priorities. Van Geffen is also the only candidate that is self-funded which helps his credibility, but hurts his campaign efforts.
Louise Engel: Businesswoman/Urban Planner
Among the candidates, Engel has the longest history in out town and represents a historically strong voter base as a resident of the Watergate community. A community that leans Senior, conservative, but most importantly gets out and votes.
Can Engel overcome being the lone conservative in an overwhelmingly Democratic town is the question. She’s promised to make Public Safety her top issue and has received an endorsement by the Emeryville Police Officers’ Association.
Christian Patz: Education Administrator
Patz is the only elected official running for council as a current School Board Trustee and has demonstrated a command of the dias and adept public speaker. He has a track record of involvement in our town and has established a political presence prior to his candidacy.
Patz also established a reputation of being combative and even a bit antagonistic while on the School Board by filing a Brown Act Violation against his fellow boardmembers and at the height of the ECCL opening. This also helped him establish a reputation of accountability which he has promised to bring to council. His close alignment with RULE ideologies and issues supported by Tattler Editor Brian Donahue probably doesn’t help him any, but is considered a strong favorite to win one of the three available seats.
Brynnda Collins: Youth Development Coordinator
Brynnda Collins also has a long history of involvement in our town. Collins’ strongest asset is probably her natural leadership qualities and she’s absolutely not afraid to get her hands dirty. If elected, Collins would be the first female African-American Councilmember since Nellie Hannon who served from 1983-87.
Collins’ absence from the LOWV Candidate forum for an emergency procedure probably hurt her exposure and hasn’t run as polished a campaign as some of the other candidates with deeper pockets.
Ally Medina: Healthcare Worker Organizer
Medina somehow has no Emeryville footprint despite residing here for nearly four years. She’s touted her involvement with the Parks & Rec. Committee at the LOWV forum despite never having attended a single meeting and was in fact appointed after she decided to run. She was also the only candidate not to state whether she’d be accepting PAC money in our questionnaire setting off some red flags about her motivations.
That being said, she is politically connected through her involvement with the SEIU and the SF Democratic Party and presumably knows how things operate. Medina promises to advance bikeability causes in our town and also noted passing Fair Work Week a top priority for her. Medina stands to get a huge boost through the campaign efforts of Mayor Dianne Martinez who has stepped in to mentor her.
John Bauters: Nonprofit Policy Director
John is the only candidate who has previously run for Emeryville City Council and this gives him a huge advantage in terms of recognition. He has the endorsement of about everyone you could ask for and has built alliances and fundraising channels. He probably “sealed the deal” through his involvement with PARC in helping them negotiate a groundbreaking Community Benefits Agreement.
John’s appeal has been his promise to strike a balance where our current council has not. John has expressed a lot of ideas, but which ones will he focus on and be able to implement when he shifts from candidate – to politician? John is widely considered a shoo-in to win.