This 2016 Emeryville City Council election will see six candidates vying for three available seats in what could see a shift in city priorities. The E’ville Eye distributed twenty questions covering a gamut of relevant topics in our city to each candidate. Our hope is to help our readers better understand the priorities of each candidate and see where they align with your own. Candidate Questionnaires will be published daily over the next week in the order they will appear on the ballot which is determined randomly by our Secretary of State (John Van Geffen, Louise Engel, Christian Patz, Brynnda Collins, Ally Medina & John Bauters). Candidates have been instructed to provide answers no longer than 250 words.
Next up is former EUSD employee Brynnda Collins. Collins is mother to recently appointed Emery School Board Trustee Brittany Collins-Rogers. In addition to traffic, public safety, schools, small businesses and tenant rights, Brynnda vows to make community building one of her top priorities. “Using a proven track record for building networks and effective personal relationships, I intend to accomplish creating a sense of family and bridging the gaps throughout our wonderful city”. If elected, Brynnda would be the first female African-American Councilmember since Nellie Hannon who served from 1983-87.
Brynnda Collins: Youth Development Coordinator
1). Please state your party affiliation (i.e. Democratic, Green Party, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, etc.) and please list any campaign donations you’ve received or have been pledged by PACs.
Democratic Party / Funding for my campaign has been raised by The Committee to Elect Brynnda Collins in addition to donations from friends and family. Former Emeryville Mayor Kurt Brinkman has been a great supporter.
2). How long have you lived in Emeryville, what has your involvement been with the city thus far and what compelled you to run for council?
While living in Emeryville for the past 13 Years. I am deeply engaged in outreach with the Alameda County Fire Dept., Emeryville Police Dept. and Emeryville’s Community Action Program as well as spending many hours working with the city and schools. While sitting on the Traffic Planning Committee, helping to form the COC (which is the body that oversees the expenses of the Center for Community Life project) sitting on several city art committees and completing Emeryville’s Citizens Police Academy I have received a deeper understanding of our community. I have been called to action for council knowing that I have the ability to address issues within our community with positive outcome.
3). What is your professional background and explain how this is applicable to local government.
As a programs and project coordinator, I have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills by participating on several committees throughout the city and for the school district. Including but not limited to the Wellness Team, Instructional Leadership Team, the Response to Intervention and Instruction Team, the School Site Council (chair), and the Parent-Teacher Organization (President). As a participant of these teams, I was instrumental in making the decisions, planning, and facilitation of the school redesign work for Emery Secondary and the Emery Unified School District. I have a combined strong sense of character and leadership skills to make a positive impact on our city, schools and community.
4). List your top-5 priorities in order, explain why and list one specific thing you intend to accomplish in your four year term should you be elected.
Addressing our issues in regards to traffic, public safety, schools, small businesses, as well as respecting the renters of Emeryville are some of my top priorities. These are some of our ongoing issues in Emeryville in addition to creating greener space and bike safety. Using a proven track record for building networks and effective personal relationships, I intend to accomplish creating a sense of family and bridging the gaps throughout our wonderful city.
5). You hear people’s desires for a “vibrant community” thrown out a lot in political discussions. What does a vibrant community mean to you?
A Vibrant community has many looks, they stem from the exterior of what we see on the outside to how we feel on the inside. A vibrant community should also include love and kindness. Personal connection and meeting the needs of our community is also a huge part of creating a vibrant community.
6). Will you gather community input outside of the dais and if so, how (social media, your own blog, guest posts on The E’ville Eye)? Would you be supportive of a neighborhood council to better understand the perspectives of the different neighborhoods and demographics of our city that don’t always have time to attend council meetings?
This question targets a huge area in which I intend to focus on. I feel a need to deepen our community outreach, engagement and input. Yes, I most certainly will gather input targeting the means in which it will take to reach our community. We must have a line of communicating in no less than five areas of communications, in order to be inclusive of our community members. Social media is a must now days to keep our communications progressive with today’s tech world. However, we must always remember the community members that may not be tech savvy and resort to phone calls, our postal service and good old word of mouth. I would be in full support of neighborhood council and have recently been engaged in conversation in regards to needing transparency for community to understand what’s taking place in our city if not able to attend meeting or study sessions.
7). What do you think the most important outcome of the Sherwin Williams project is for our city (i.e., the inclusion of ownership housing, maximizing the percentage of “affordable” units, Parking & Traffic Mitigation, etc.)?
I firmly believe the project itself need to have an important outcome overall. Include i.e ownership housing, affordable housing without segregation, green space, bike safety, safe hiking and walking trails while offering safe connections and calm traffic.
8). The ECCL finally opened its doors after being in the works for more than a decade. Would you (theoretically) have any reservations sending your children to a K-12 school? Will you fight to retain Anna Yates Elementary as part of the EUSD?
My daughter was a student at a K-12 school from grade K-6, however, private and with much smaller enrollment than offered through EUSD, I did have concerns with the high school students on the same campus with the elementary age students. We relocated to Emeryville where she than moved forward attending Emery Secondary. Again, I had reservations with the middle school being housed on a high school campus. Seeking employment with the district offered me the opportunity in assuring the health and welfare of not just my own student but of the overall student population. As a member of the ECCL redesigning committee, I fought hard to retain Anna Yates Elementary as part of EUSD strongly thinking that the large concerns and reservations expressed by the parents and staff consolidating both schools should have been considered in the decision making process.
9). Can you reference any conversations you’ve had with the owners of any non-publicly subsidized businesses in our city and do you get the sense that they’re thriving or struggling and what their sentiment toward operating in our city is?
I have had several conversations in regards to the struggles some of the small business owners are facing in Emeryville. One reference in particular has mentioned that in will not be feasible for her to continue running her business in Emeryville much long with our minimum wage trajectory and Fair Work Week. Her feeling expressed there has been a war waged on small businesses in Emeryville.
10). Is retaining and in fact growing our base of small businesses important to you and what will you commit to doing to help small businesses thrive in our city if elected?
Retaining and growing small business help to create the strong sense of community that can be offered throughout our city which will become more attractive to families. If elected I will commit and keep our city from turning into large commercial space by reaching out to the small business community, address their concerns and moving forward with action to make sure small business owners know they too are part of community helping to create a vibrant city.
11). Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a $15 minimum wage into state law that includes gradual increases and “off-ramps” in the event of economic consequences. If the impacts of our local MWO are proven to have the negative impacts that were predicted by business, would you be willing to “pause” ours and defer to the state model? Do you see the advantage of a regional approach to passing economic policies?
If the impacts of our local MWO are proven to have the negative impacts predicted, I would be willing to revisit ours and possibly deferring to the state model. I see advantages as well as disadvantages and would like to see a study on regional competitiveness.
12). Our current council is looking to implement a scheduling & employment ordinance being referred to as “Fair Work Week”. Do you support this ordinance? Do you foresee any unintended consequences that could come from this?
Data from the “Fair Work Week” study session are reflecting no changes are needed. However, several employees throughout the city have no idea the survey existed. After hearing story after story, opinions and deep hearted feeling of both employers and employees we must focus on what will work and what won’t. I realize some of the expressed issues need to be addressed on a case by case basis. Employers are always going to need to make last minute changes needed to accommodate real life events happening with employees as well as the stability of running their business. On the other note employees have the right to fair working respectable hours with and affordable wages. I foresee unintended consequences and hear talk of businesses leaving Emeryville with the current ordinance. Our council should offer support that comforts employer and employee fairness.
13). Do you feel being the “model city” for new legislation by labor groups puts our businesses at a competitive disadvantage? Do you have any concerns that businesses will choose neighboring cities instead of settling in Emeryville or of our city developing the stigma of being labeled “Anti-Business”?
As stated in a previous question small businesses are starting to feel as if a war has been waged against them in Emeryville. I have great concerns that businesses will choose neighboring cities.
14). I think a lot of us would like some form of “Rent Control” but achieving this in actuality is complicated and limited. How can we maintain affordability in our city and protect existing residents from getting priced out?
I have been looking into the affordable housing issue in Emeryville. It will take intensive work but most certainly can take place in Emeryville as it does in joining cities. If elected I intend to form a Rental/ Landlord Accountability Task Force for starters.
15). Which intersections do you think deserve the most attention in regards to Traffic Mitigation and Bike/Ped safety?
After seeing someone on his bike get hit by a car just a few weeks ago I would say the area entering and leaving Target need immediate mitigation.
16). Emeryville is consistently listed as one of the statistically most violent cities in the Bay Area and crime in our city is on the rise (Much of this crime is petty theft attributed to our shopping centers and auto burglaries because of this and our base of hotels). In terms of public safety, what resources or legislation will you be supportive of to allow the EPD to do their best job keeping our residents safe?
There has to be conversations with the EPD as to what supportive measures they feel should be taken and the role they would need the council to play in assisting with public safety. I would however, like to establish crime busters in every neighborhood where citizens are educated and aware of suspicious behavior while learning how to safely reporting their observations without fear.
17). Homelessness is a regional and very complex issue. Encampments continue to pit neighbors against the unhoused and create quality of life issues for residents. We know “kicking them out” doesn’t solve anything … but neither does the status quo. What solutions are you most supportive of and can you commit to working regionally with neighboring cities to help alleviate this humanitarian crisis?
Homeless need to be addressed and quickly. I would like to work on using vacant space for housing offering a work study program that will lead to self sufficiency.
18). We’ve often advocated for a “resident first” approach to policymaking meaning resident considerations should come before outside special interest groups (such as Oakland-based labor organizations) or at least negative impacts on residents should be divulged and communicated. Do you agree or disagree with this and why?
I agree on resident first approach, although the views of special interest groups are valuable the voice of the residence is what should count. We are the people who are the face of community and have to live here while the special interest groups give their input they can’t call Emeryville home.
19). Civic participation and community spirit in Emeryville is sadly lacking. Do you have any ideas to further community building in our town? Do you think resident retention and ownership opportunities are important components to this equation?
Civic participation and community spirit most certainly needs attentions in Emeryville. By electing me to council you will help to bridge the gaps and improve spirit in our city. I have many great ideas and I am passionate about serving our children and elders and building the capacity of others to create positive change. I am confident that my personal strength along with my strong background makes me an excellent candidate to build community. Resident retention and ownership opportunities are most certainly essential to community spirit.
20). A huge focus of our site is civic transparency and oversight. We’re in a unique position to facilitate communication with our residents as Emeryville’s largest media outlet with an estimated quarter of the population visiting our site regularly (and growing every year). Can we get your guarantee that you’ll be responsive to our inquiries even in the event we disagree on something?
I can guarantee that I will be responsive to your inquiries and firmly believe in transparency. In times of agreement or disagreement the community has a right to know what’s going on throughout our city.
E’ville Eye Preliminary Readers Poll: