In a short message distributed to the public, first-term Councilmember Kurt Brinkman announced he will not be seeking re-election. Brinkman, citing business & family commitments, has withdrawn from consideration opening the field for two new Councilmembers to replace himself and Jennifer West in November’s election. West removed herself from consideration back in December citing that raising a family and working full-time was not compatible with her expectations of being an effective councilperson. John Fricke (2009), West and now Brinkman follow a recent trend of bowing out of Emeryville Politics after a single term in office.
To the residents of Emeryville, I wish to tell you that I will not be running for re-election to the city council. It has been my pleasure serving you for the past eleven years as a school board member and on the council. I leave the council knowing that the city is financially secure and that we have a dedicated city staff of managers, firefighters, police officers and employees.
I am now at the time in my life where I need to focus on my family and to recommit to spending more time on my business. I’ll still be active and involved with issues that promote the livability and safety of those who live in our amazing town. Once again, thank you all for your support and your friendship.
In addition to being on several city committees, the school board, the President of the Northern California NECA chapter, on the Alameda County Fire Commission, active with the youth of West Oakland and philanthropic causes, Brinkman also serves as CEO of the company he founded, Intrepid Electronics (Who can claim Google amongst its clients). Brinkman also has eight grandkids through his two daughters and has an 87-year-old mother still living back where he was raised in Iowa. “I needed more flexibility in my life, because I don’t know what’s going to happen with that relationship with my mother.” Something had to give for Kurt and in this case, it was his public service to Emeryville. “I tell people it’s a good thing I’m single because if I was married, no one would tolerate me.”
Brinkman seems content with the state of our city and is ready to put his energy into other causes including improving the West Oakland business community where his business is located. “I kind of looked at Emeryville and I said, I don’t see any really driving changes that the city needs to make,” Brinkman explains, “my passion is somewhat changing … some things are happening with the West Oakland Commerce Association and hopefully with the chamber of commerce in Emeryville to enliven the area.” Ultimately Brinkman explains “In order for Emeryville to get better, we have to help West Oakland get better. It’s just reality.”
Brinkman’s departure opens up the council race to a larger pool of candidates. “I know that there’s two candidates running. I’d like to see three, four or five more. I think it’s a good thing for the city.” And is there anyone he’s urged to enter the race? “There’s been a couple of people I’ve been pushing … I would like to see an African-American on the City Council … I think we need a little cultural change in some way”. Brinkman cautions those that do commit to running; “If you’re going to do it, understand it’s a major commitment.”
And does Brinkman have any regrets or would he like to change anything about his tenure? “The only thing I kind of regret is, architecturally, I think some of the buildings being built in town are just not what they should be,” referring to some of the projects already in the pipeline prior to his term “they look too much like big boxes and I think there’s more we should do to clean up the design … I question ‘Why?’ … The only one I can see out there is Rich Robbins … his industrial buildings have a little bit of character, other than that, there’s really not much out there that I would be proud to say I was the architect on.” Brinkman thinks Emeryville now has a bit more leverage and can demand better from Developers with our thinning stock of available land. “We don’t need to lessen our worth as far as Emeryville now.”
Brinkman seems content with his decision and feels it was the right time for him to step away from Emeryville politics and start a new chapter of his life. “I am getting older, I’m going to be 62, I’d like to see some new faces in town”. Brinkman goes on to say “I’ve done my eleven years, six years on the school board and now five years on the council, so I just think it’s time for me to move over. It’s not an ego-thing … I think it’s time to bring in some new blood.”
In this thirty-minute audio conversation, Brinkman sounds off on his time as a Councilmember, his critics (including Emeryville Tattler editor Brian Donahue whom he refers to as “The Rush Limbaugh of FOX News Emeryville”), his biggest regrets, his concerns over the ECCL and what’s next for him.
Listen to the exclusive Interview on SoundCloud: