Emeryville City Councilmember Christian Patz surprised his fellow councilmembers at the May 4th meeting by announcing that he will be stepping down from his position. Patz provided that he would be moving from the area after accepting a new professional role.
Patz’ was first elected in 2016 as the third highest vote-getter in a field of five vying for three open seats. He began his second term in 2020 when no opposition candidates emerged and the council opted to not have an election.
“The pandemic has changed a lot of things,” Patz addressed his fellow councilmembers and staff via a zoom meeting. “…and I realized I cannot let an opportunity pass me by just because I love my town.”
Patz disclosed he would be relocating to Shasta County where he would take on the role as Executive Director for Shasta County SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area). Patz’ previous professional role was with the Oakland School for the Arts as their Director of Special Education.
Patz has yet to officially tender his resignation to the City Manager and his final day has not been established. Patz noted that he will maintain ownership of his Emeryville Triangle neighborhood single-family home.
Fellow councilmembers expressed surprise at Patz’ announcement and appreciation for his time on council. “You complete this council,” noted 2021 Mayor Dianne Martinez at the meeting. “We’re going to miss your zesty personality,” added councilmember Scott Donahue.
Family Track Record of Antagonism and Failure to Complete Terms
Patz, along with hais wife Barbara Inch, demonstrated ambition but also established a track record of failing to follow through on their term commitments as elected officials. Patz failed to complete his four year term as a school board member opting to run for city council in 2016. Patz was less then six months into his second term before announcing his resignation. Inch was elected to school board in 2016 and abruptly resigned in 2019 failing to complete her term as well.
Patz also developed a reputation of being antagonistic by continuously butting heads with his fellow school board members. He dismissively referred to our news publication as a “food blog” after he and his fellow councilmembers withdrew funding for an already approved dog park in Emeryville’s Park Avenue District.
For reasons that are not totally clear, he was especially antagonistic toward The Emeryville Historical Society twice moving to deny them a small community grant despite approval recommendation from a special subcommittee. His reasons for doing so were dubious at best.
At the 2018 grant review, he went as far as to purchase their proposed website domain in an odd act of cybersquatting noting he would consider donating it back to them if they met his personal criteria.
Patz and his wife were considered close allies with the political group RULE and their affiliated opinion blog run by Councilmembers Scott Donahue’s brother.
After being banned from the Nextdoor platform, Inch took over sharing their articles on the platform. She emphatically shared a 2016 post declaring the group had assumed “Total Power” in the city.
Patz was probably considered the most idealogical of the five councilmembers and the lone dissenting vote when the city attempted slow the pace of minimum wage increases for independent food service businesses.
He dismissed the data showing that small businesses were struggling as a result of absorbing the fastest and highest minimum wage increase in the nation. “I’m really excited to see what it looks like in a few more years particularly when we go through an economic downturn,” he bizarrely pronounced.
Patz’ contributions to the city during his time on council were modest but he did spearhead the renaming of 47th street to honor Trans-Rights pioneer Steve Dain.
While serving his one year term as Mayor in 2020, he was widely criticized for his handling of Emeryville’s mass-looting event when he seemingly expressed more empathy for the looters than the ravaged local businesses and avoided condemning any criminal activity.
He listed the city’s response during Covid among his proudest accomplishments.
Council to decide on Special Election or Appointment to fill Vacancy
The Council will discuss its options for filling the impending vacancy at their next Council meeting on May 18.
A special election is considered cost-prohibitive and it is more likely the other councilmembers will vote to appoint someone. Recruiting for the empty seat would likely come from either the school board, planning commission or city committees.
If council does indeed opt to fill the vacancy via appointment, their seat would only last until the next general election in 2022 according to state law.
5/8 update: Per a city staff report posted in next meeting’s agenda, council will apparently not have the option of appointing someone as this would result in a 3/5 majority of council being appointed (Bauters, Medina & Patz were all technically appointed as there was no election). The options they will discuss and vote on are either to hold a special election or operate with four councilmembers until the 2022 general election.
Patz’ announcement can be viewed below [14:41].