E’ville Voices: Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez goes to Washington

3 mins read

Our “E’ville Voices” guest blogger series was created to net a broader range of voices within our city in flux and initiate dialogue through opinion & conversation. Participating in the series is newly appointed Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez. Mayor Martinez had the opportunity to attend the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors held in Washington, D.C. The USCM is the official non-partisan organization for cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Although Emeryville is not an official member city to the USCM, Martinez was allowed to attend as a guest Mayor.

Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez attends U.S. Conference of Mayors

Just two weeks ago, I had the honor of representing the City of Emeryville at the U.S. Conference of Mayors (UCSM) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The group is the official non-partisan organization of larger cities, creating a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. USCM also promotes the development of effective national policy, strengthens federal-city relationships, and strives to ensure that federal policy meets urban needs.


Mayor Martinez with fellow Mayors (L-R) Carol Dutra-Vernaci (Union City), Kevin Johnson (Sacramento) & Pauline Cutter (San Leandro).

I attended a meeting of the Environment Standing Committee, where Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, gave an overview of the Clean Power Plan – our nation’s first-ever set of national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. While appreciating that we are moving away from carbon-intensive energy production here in the U.S., I pressed McCarthy to address the transit of coal by rail that is destined for other countries. She confirmed that there are many conversations at the federal level concerning the safety of hazardous materials by rail. There are many proposed projects that may be exporting coal from the Western seaboard, and McCarthy pointed out that the EPA’s role is to make sure there is a complete disclosure in terms of environmental impact. She remarked, “We’ll certainly be at the table to make sure that environmental impacts are considered and well analyzed.” The tragedy over drinking water in Flint, Michigan was at the top of everyone’s minds, and McCarthy did not shy away from this topic. “Our first priority has to be and is to make sure that the water in Flint is safe,” she said. Later that same day, it was publicized that McCarthy accepted the resignation of the EPA regional administrator in charge of Flint.

The Environment Standing Committee video where Mayor Martinez inquires about shipping coal through our community can be viewed on CSPAN (Flash Player Required) →

The mayors in attendance were also witness to a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama, who talked about the successes and continued efforts to end veteran homelessness in American cities. And finally, we mayors had an audience with the man himself, President Barack Obama. In the East Room of the White House, the President discussed the role of mayors in American government. “Mayors can’t wait for congress. Mayors can’t get stuck in partisan gridlock. We’ve got Republican mayors here and Democratic mayors, but frankly if you’re a mayor, nobody cares what your party is. They care what you’re getting done.” The President remarked on the 40 cities and counties that have taken action on the minimum wage and on paid family leave. Among other topics, he also touched on the water crisis in Flint, criminal justice reform, the scourge of opioids and heroin, building new housing in our growing cities, and making it easier for people to vote.

[youtube id=”MdmbNEQ6wBI” width=”620″ height=”360″]
President Obama’s remarks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

While it was definitely a perk to be in the company of the President and the First Lady, the lasting benefit of the U.S. Mayor’s Conference is the opportunity to connect with mayors whose cities are exploring new ways to combat the major problems of our time. For instance, after accepting the First Lady’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and New Orleans have effectively done so. I’d like to learn from the leadership in these communities and apply the lessons learned from taking on these huge challenges.


In addition to networking with officials from other cities, I was able to connect with members of the Small Business Administration – notably, it’s administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet. I hope that this connection proves to be fruitful in leveraging federal resources for our small businesses right here in Emeryville.

I look forward to representing our fair city as your mayor for the remainder of this year, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts and concerns with me at dmartinez@emeryville.org.


Martinez poses in front of a portrait of Jackie Onassis-Kennedy hanging in the White House ground-floor Vermeil Room.

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Guest Contributor

The E'ville Eye Guest Contributor series invites local officials, business owners, residents & neighbors to share their opinions and voice about a broad range of subjects involving our city. Contact us if you're interested in submitting an editorial or story.


  1. If Dianne Martinez cared about small business so much why didn’t she listen to us instead of sending her goon to harass us during MWO? We’ll see how sincere she is about helping us when the SEIU & EBASE comes knocking again.

  2. Mayor Martinez would be wise to focus on responding to the needs brought to her by the local community rather than those imposed on us by outside national interests. Is coal transit really the big issue in Emeryville today? It’s great to go share ideas and listen to others, but our city council needs to start listening to us.

    • I appreciate that offer but by “listen”, I meant something bigger than a sit down meeting with one person. I meant “hearing” the voice of the community.

      Listening in a meeting doesn’t help unless you try to implement what the community asks for instead of what you, and a few others want. You “listened” to the community but you only “heard” the labor unions.

      I watched you and council do a great job balancing interests and finding solutions during the Trader Vic’s noise meeting. And I watched you and council fail completely to do this with respect to the MWO. In one case, you were balancing and hearing the interests of conflicting members of our community. In the other, you were ignoring the community in favor of outside interests and your own ideology.

      Maybe it’s something you learn as you develop in the role as “representative of the community”, and I imagine you are getting better at it with time. But, you and city council ignored not only the community but the entire city staff to push through something outlandish on behalf of an outside labor group. The coal issue is another example where it seems you’ve misjudged what is on the minds of the people of Emeryville.

      The question that has been the hottest topic in Emeryville for the past 7 months is how to fix the problem with the minimum wage in Emeryville. That would be a great place to start to demonstrate that you are “hearing” the community. And yes, it means standing up to EBASE. When you do, you can point out that you couldn’t find a single other mayor in DC whose community thought raising the minimum wage from $9 to $14.44 in 30 days was a good idea.

      The community will accept that there is compromise and no one can get everything they want. But it’s hard to accept that our elected officials seem more interested in the national political stage than in the people they represent. Our problems are real world, day-to-day run of the mill boring problems, but they are Emeryville problems and they need Emeryville specific solutions.

    • Mayor Martinez, I do appreciate the overture and consider your character to be sincere. Unfortunately at this point we are unable to have an open dialogue with the threat of harassment and slander to our business at the hands of your associate Mr. Donahue and his online publication. I think until you, RULE, Asher and Scott Donahue identify how toxic he is to this city and take a stand against his behavior, we’ll have to remain Anonymous. He is honestly pulling you and everyone else around him down and it’s concerning that you haven’t identified and addressed this.

  3. Go Dianne! We always knew you were destined for big things. We appreciate these updates on the eye. You should right your own monthly column!

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