Status Quo for Emeryville Voters as No Challengers File for Council Race; Two File for Three School Board Seats
The nomination period for the upcoming general election closed on August 7 and Emeryville voters will once again have little choice in our local races. No challengers have filed to oppose the three city council incumbents and only two candidates have filed for the three available Emery Unified School Board seats. All seats are 4-year terms.
Incumbents Go Unchallenged in Council Race
Like our last general election in 2018, no new challengers have emerged from Emeryville’s political landscape (Ken Bukowski, a longtime former councilmember, ran a fairly minimal, unfunded campaign).
Meanwhile, the City of Berkeley had eight candidates file for their mayoral election and none of the combined nine council elections in neighboring Oakland or Berkeley will go unchallenged. Emeryville on the other hand couldn’t muster a single challenger to its current political paradigm.
Only Two File for School Board
The deadline for filing for the school board election was extended by one week when incumbent Cruz Vargas opted to not to file for reelection. Despite this extension, the School Board race only attracted two candidates for the available three seats.
John Van Geffen, who emerged as a council candidate in 2016, was appointed to the position last year when Sarah Nuyen moved from the area. Van Geffen, who has a young child entering the district, filed for one of the three 4-year terms.
Kimberly Solis, who just recently graduated from Emery High in 2018, added a bit of intrigue to this election by throwing her hat in the ring. Solis was a top student while attending Emery and garnered accolades including being named a Visionary Award finalist at the annual Urban Debate League. Solis is currently attending UC Berkeley on a Fiat Lux scholarship.
When these candidates are presumably elected, they, along with existing board members Susan Donaldson and Brynnda Collins, will need to appoint a fifth board member. Board members must reside in Emeryville despite the district being comprised of roughly half out-of-district transfers.
Browse the complete list of candidates on the Alameda County Website and view Emeryville candidates campaign statements and FPPC filings on Emeryville.org. Nominees for office will be listed in alphabetical order until ballot order is confirmed by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
8/27 Update: According to Emeryville City Clerk Sheri Hartz, there will not be any Emeryville City Council election on the November ballot. City Council voted 4-1 vote (Councilmember Donahue absent) at an August 19 Special Meeting to approve a resolution. “When there are only as many candidates as there are seats with expiring terms, Elections Code Section 10229 allows for a City Council to take action, if it so chooses, to not participate in the election, and to appoint the verified nominees.”
John Bauters, Ally Medina and Christian Patz will take office just as if they had been elected by the voters, and will begin their terms after the November election is certified.
Emeryville City Council Election
John J. Bauters
Emeryville City Councilmember / Justice Advocate
Candidate Statement: As your Councilmember, I have worked to make Emeryville a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive community. I have been a progressive leader on important local issues, including affordable housing, active transportation, environmental stewardship, economic development, and social justice. I championed our local affordable housing bond to build homes for low-income seniors and working families who need an affordable place to live; partnered with Oakland to open a homeless shelter with wraparound services for families with children; have been a regional leader in addressing our climate crisis; introduced policies that have protected residential tenants and small businesses; spearheaded the effort to eliminate city contracts with companies sharing data with ICE; and held weekly town halls with the community. My commitment to creating a just and equitable community runs deep – I have over 15 years of combined professional experience as a legal aid attorney representing vulnerable populations and as an advocate fighting to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with investments in community-based education, health, and social services. With your support, I commit to continuing this work, advancing our shared values, and making people-centered decisions at city hall.
Candidate Statement: It has been my pleasure to serve as a Councilmember for the City of Emeryville over the past four years. I have worked to uphold strong labor standards, bring affordable housing to Emeryville, and provide safe transportation options for our community. I am seeking another term to continue to make progress on those issues and to find ways to help those in our community who most need it during an unprecedented global pandemic.
I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving as a member of the City Council and humbly ask for your vote on November 3rd.
Candidate Statement: As your Mayor, I have collaborated with our community and fellow council members to help Emeryville navigate 2020. My experience and track record will help the city navigate the economic uncertainty we face in the next few years. I will continue to maintain the city’s balanced budget and ensure funds to cover liabilities.
My record includes defending the minimum wage to ensure that Emeryville workers are paid fairly, working with the voters to pass Emeryville’s Measures C and F, a $50 million affordable housing bond, and a sales tax for childcare and public safety. As a council, we passed an eviction moratorium and set aside funds for people impacted by the stay at home orders.
As Emeryville has grown, I have advocated for not only affordable housing but family-friendly development, not just more studios. My priorities continue to be housing, fair employment, community engagement and activities, environmental responsibility, and, responsive public safety.
It has been a privilege representing you on the City Council and look I forward to what we can accomplish next.
Emery USD School Board Election
John T. Van Geffen
Appointed Incumbent / Emeryville Parent / Attorney for the Public Advocates Office at the California Public Utilities Commission
Candidate Statement: It has been a crazy year to say the very least.
Amid repeated COVID waves, raging forest fires and two full time working parents, my daughter starts kindergarten this 20/21 school year at Anna Yates.
Like many of you, I am struggling with being pulled in so many directions while simultaneously trying to provide a good childhood experience despite all the inherent dangers of growing up in today’s world.
Yet, despite facing the exact same issues, the ECCL staff, administration and teachers have been working day and night to confront the risks of opening school and developing workarounds for the inherent difficulties of providing a successful, engaging and supportive distance learning experience for our children.
If elected, my goal is simple, give teachers and staff the resources they need to do what they do best—i.e., teach our children, encourage their continued personal growth and keep them safe.
I do not come with a personal agenda, rather, I simply promise that I will listen to the concerns brought by our community, I will consider any and all ideas brought to the School Board, and I will do whatever is within my power to continue supporting our children.
UC Berkeley Student/Double Major in Ethnic Studies and Political Science
Candidate Statement: I am a long time Emeryville resident and a current UC Berkeley student near completion of my Ethnic Studies and Political Science B.A. I have two years prior experience serving on the governing board as a Student Representative for Emery USD while attending Emery High School. As an alumna of the district, I am deeply committed to the improvement of Emery USD to provide the highest quality educational experience possible for students and their families. I am familiar with the needs of teachers and staff members and know my way around the district. Additionally, I have direct ties to the district as I have multiple family members who are currently students of Anna Yates and Emery High. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, I am committed to protecting the students of Emery USD by prioritizing their health and safety while still supporting the district in providing quality education. I will ensure to bridge any gaps in access to the technology and tools necessary for all students to engage in school.