Last week, we published the news about Councilmember John Bauters declaring his intent to run for a third Emeryville City Council term. By all indications, he’d be a shoe-in to win. We also speculated on the “next rung on the ladder” for his political ambitions being the County Supervisor seat occupied by 73-year old Keith Carson.
The plot thickened when Carson abruptly announced that he would not seek reelection. “I believe it is time for new energy that reflects the evolving needs of District 5,” Carson penned in a statement to constituents of his district announcing his decision.
After much reflection, I’ve decided not to seek reelection in 2024 as your County Supervisor. It’s been an incredible 30+ years serving you, and I’m grateful for your trust.
Read my full statement: https://t.co/pzTEyGATdm#NewChapter #Gratitude pic.twitter.com/zn4C8q4UDT— Supervisor Keith Carson (@Keith_Carson) December 9, 2023
By opting not to file, the deadline was extended by five days (now Wednesday, December 13) giving potential candidates little time to decide if they want to throw their hats in the ring.
The board is broken down into five districts with Carson’s fifth district seat representing the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and a large swath of Oakland.
The Bay Area Reporter, a LGBTQ+ online news publication, first broke the news that Bauters had filed to run for the vacating seat also noting that Berkeley D3 City Councilmember Ben Bartlett and two other candidates have pulled papers. Since this story was published, two additional candidates have filed including Oakland District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas.
The East Bay Insiders publication has speculated that termed out State Senator Nancy Skinner may also jump in. If she does, she’d be a strong favorite with $871,000 in cash reserves.
An article published today on The East Bay Times speculated that Carson’s abrupt decision may be strategic and that he “may have already handpicked a successor.” If so, will that successor be Bartlett, Bauters, Skinner … or someone else?
Carson expressed often being the only voice representing Black and Brown communities in meetings and trying not be dismissed. Currently, the Board’s District 4 seat is held by Nate Miley who is also Black.
Emeryville is in fact represented at higher levels by three Black leaders including Carson, Assemblymember Mia Bonta & Congresswoman Barbara Lee who is currently running for U.S. Senate.
Bauters, A midwest native, moved to Emeryville in 2013 and immediately launched his political career. After abruptly withdrawing from a Planning Commission interview, he ran for Emeryville City Council in 2014. He was frequently criticized for not serving on a single city committee before opting to run. After coming up short in his initial bid for council, he was appointed to the Planning Commission where he served for two years before winning a council seat in 2016.
Bauters has been skillful at furthering his regional profile through the X platform (FKA “Twitter”) getting regional news sources like The SF Chronicle to regularly run profile pieces on him.
Journalists tend to spend a lot of their time on the platform and are heavily influenced by its trending content algorithm which Bauters has been able to exploit.
What’s not clear is how many of his nearly 40K followers on the influential platform are actual Alameda County voters. As we pointed out recently, a Tweet Map indicated he had as many followers on the platform that identified as New Zealand residents as Emeryville residents.
Bauters clearly has allies in the local Democratic party … but has also made enemies. Certain labor groups will likely oppose his bid after his attempt to pause Emeryville’s Highest in the nation Minimum Wage law for local, independent businesses.
Bauters has recently attempted to recruited the support of other powerful labor groups by joining Oakland Kaiser healthcare workers in their recent strike encouraging the crowd to “shut this f*cking city down!” in the below video (in the presence of children no less).
Frontline healthcare workers want Kaiser executives to end the Kaiser short staffing crisis. We’re headed back to the bargaining table to make this happen!!!
Thank you to the Mayor of Emeryville, @JohnBauters for speaking at our Strike line🎉@seiu_uhw#United4all pic.twitter.com/7Vmb2Jigru— Fay Eastman-Adams (@FayPixs) October 7, 2023
Bauters has shown ability to adeptly run a meeting and digest complex fiscal documents, but can easily be rankled by criticism. He’s frequently lost his composure and has shown a propensity to retaliate against those critical of him including recently panning fellow Councilmember Kalimah Priforce for the Vice Mayor spot as well as Planning Commission candidate Eugene Tssui and his involvement in having journalists removed from meetings among other petty actions.
He’s also at times exaggerated his accomplishments, pushed fabrications to support his narratives including the city’s dwindling housing production and most recently, levied an unnecessary attack on the city’s founder that we debunked.
It remains to be seen if Bauters can “take the heat” in a political atmosphere larger than a small city like Emeryville where attendance at council meetings is typically the same handful of people and critics are scarce.
While an Emeryville City Councilmember role is considered part-time, A BOS seat is considered full-time meaning Bauters would likely need to resign from his professional role as the Arizona State Director for The Alliance for Safety & Justice if elected.
The election will be on the March 5 primary ballot, and if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will square off on the November 5 general election.
Should Bauters win outright, he’ll have time to withdraw from his Emeryville City Council bid (the filing deadline for incumbents is not until August). Should he be among the top two vote getters, it is thought that he’d need to withdraw from his Emeryville City council bid as according to the Secretary of State website, “no person may file nomination papers for more than one office at the same election.”
The final list of candidates:
- Ben Bartlett
- Nikki Fortunato Bas
- John Bauters
- Ken Berrick
- Omar Farmer
- Gregory Hodge
- Chris Moore
- Gerald Pechenuk
- Lorrel Plimier
Their contact information can be viewed at acgov.org.