The Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville chapter of The League of Women Voters hosted their candidate forums for the upcoming Emeryville City Council and School Board elections last Thursday, October 6th. The one hour zoom-hosted events were moderated by League secretary Elise Mills.
The league solicited the community for questions to ask the candidates prior to broadcasting as well as during the live event. 40 users registered for the City Council forum with only 23 of them attending the live event. 17 registered for the School Board with 12 users in attendance. The video replays have garnered 29 and 13 views respectively at the time of publication.
The League does not endorse candidates but does take stances on ballot measures through the advocacy arm of their organization. You can support the League’s work by donating or volunteering.
The E’ville Eye has provided 20 questions to City Council candidates that we hope to publish early next week. You can read their candidate statements in an earlier post.
Fall 2022 Emeryville City Council Candidate Forum
Five candidates are vying for the two open seats being vacated by 2-term councilmembers Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue. Sukhdeep Kaur, David Mourra, Kalimah Priforce, Eugene Tssui and Brooke Westling all filed papers prior to the extended deadline.
Four of the candidates participated in the forum. Westling was not in attendance citing a “personal urgent issue” but provided a statement in advance that Mills read during the introduction portion of the evening.
Things were a bit “chippy” prior to the event as Eugene Tsui, seeking the endorsement of the local chapter of the Democratic Party, apparently misspoke by noting the lack of API representation in the city. Outgoing Councilmember Dianne Martinez is of Filipino decent.
Politicians, as they are prone to, immediately took to twitter to blast Tssui.
During last years’ special election, a similar slight occurred when then candidate Courtney Welch failed to acknowledge former candidate and current school board member Brynnda Collins in her candidate statement by claiming she was “the first Black woman in 34 years to seek a seat on Council.” No councilmembers publicly spoke up on this at the time and they all ended up endorsing Welch.
The backstory to this exchange is of course previous tensions between Bauters and Tssui when Bauters was accused of Bias and Ageism against Tssui after he was rejected for a Planning Commission seat.
One moment of civility between candidates stood out as Priforce acknowledged Tssui’s error but a willingness to move past it. “Sometimes you make mistakes by showing up but it’s important that you showed up and and Eugene showed up and that’s I think the most important thing.” Tssui expressed appreciation to Priforce for the acknowledgement during his opportunity to speak. “What a wonderful thing to say. Thank you Kalimah.” said Tssui.
The five candidates will likely look to distinguish themselves by positioning themselves as an extension of the City’s current leadership (and acquiring valuable endorsements in the process), or providing an alternative vision for its direction.
The largest criteria for being elected in a city like Emeryville with low voter engagement and short resident tenure will be the endorsement of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. Their endorsement ensures that a candidates name and image will be included in the multiple glossy mailers sent to every mailbox in the city.
The ACDCC is a rather opaque organization that provides little public insight into their process and “favors union loyalty over qualifications” as pointed out in this recent East Bay Times Op-Ed.
All candidates in attendance endorsed the Measure O Property Tax that the city has placed on the ballot to close a budget shortfall exacerbated by the pandemic.
Fall 2022 Emeryville School Board Candidate Forum
All candidates were present for the Emery School Board forum that was also moderated by Mills.
Incumbents Brynnda Collins and Susan Donaldson filed for reelection and are seeking a second four year term. Chagolla, an appointed member, is also seeking to continue her tenure as a boardmember.
They will be challenged by candidate Brian Donahue previously ran for city council in a losing bid.
Donahue, an Artist Coop resident and brother of outgoing councilmember Scott Donahue, has earned a reputation within the city of spewing misinformation, harassing small businesses and bloviating angry vitriol during public meetings.
Donahue laid a claim to be the only parent to currently have a child in the district but noted he was actively working to transfer his child to Berkeley Unified.
Incumbent school boardmembers have been criticized for being slow to reopen schools in the wake of the pandemic.