Election Coverage: Can John Bauters pull off an E’ville upset?

Published On November 4, 2014 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Politics

America loves a good underdog story. Today, we’ll find out if E’villains do as well. Despite being out-resourced, out-endorsed and up against a “slate” political strategy, John Bauters is hanging tough and has a chance to upset an Emeryville political dynamic that has painted him as an outsider. His youth, energy and fresh perspective have captured the imagination of a broad range of Emeryville voters including seniors and our emerging working professional population. It remains to be seen if he can overcome the odds that have been stacked against him but it’s clear that he’s established himself as a viable prospect in Emeryville’s political landscape.

He’s done it all while maintaining a commitment to positive campaigning and the only candidate to hold down a full-time job while campaigning. “I pledged to run a completely positive campaign when I declared my candidacy for city council and have fulfilled that pledge with integrity” he mentioned through a recent email conversation.


Bauters speaking at a October 14th Meet & Greet event at Watergate’s Clipper Club.

Representing an underrepresented demographic of Emeryville

Bauters represents a segment of our population that is currently underrepresented on our council and his emergence looks to bring a younger demographic into the voting and engagement folds. “For the first time in 15 years, after speaking with John, I am actually motivated to vote for city candidates and measures!” commented Julie P. on his recent E’ville Eye candidate questionnaire. “If he’s elected, I’ll finally feel like I have a voice. John is part of a significant demographic of Emeryville; the young, educated, working professional, and would speak for many of us. His ambition is just what this city needs.”

But it’s not just the young that have gravitated toward Bauters. Emeryville’s Senior population has aligned with him as well. His Watergate events have been well attended and the groundswell of support has been evident. “I thought that John Bauters was surprisingly well-educated in the challenges facing Emeryville and was prepared with a number of ideas that he had clearly given a lot of thought to in solving some of the issues facing the City” noted 27-year Emeryville resident Betsy Cooley.

An openly gay man in a longterm relationship, he’s also a huge lover of our four-legged friends and has pledged advocacy for more dog-friendly spaces that encourage interaction amongst neighbors.


Not just discussing the problem … but providing solutions!

Bauters has experience in some of Emeryville’s most applicable areas including Public Safety, Affordable Housing and Sustainable communities advocacy. A self-described Pragmatist, Bauters has distinguished himself from the other candidates by going beyond just supporting or identifying a problem … but by suggesting real, practical solutions. He’s a quick study and had been able to quickly grasp Emeryville’s most challenging problems like our Emery Go-Round Funding. “His strengths are real policy – not the fluff that people say that sounds good.” noted another commenter “His methodology seems to be first-hand encounter with problems and then tackling those problems with real solutions that are very possible from a logistics standpoint.” “He was the only candidate who consistently had SPECIFIC ideas on how to improve our city” noted another resident after a recent candidate forum. “He has clearly spent some time seriously thinking about the problems of the city and how to solve them.”

Real solutions like lobbying Sherwin Williams for more affordable units and pointing them toward available grants & resources that would help subsidize this (9:56):

A Track Record of Community Involvement

You’d never know John has only been a resident for two years if you chat with him (In a city where there is a 75% turnover in residents every 8 years, the term “new” is relative). His critics point to his relative lack of involvement in Emeryville politics thus far. This might be a concern for some, but he has a proven track record of involvement at all his stops along the way to E’ville. This has given him experience from a broader perspective than just our narrow 1.2 square miles and I personally think this is an advantage for him. With over ten years of combined work experience as a disaster relief coordinator, a public policy advocate, and a legal services attorney assisting low-income families, seniors, people living with disabilities and the homeless. John’s best asset is leading people to work together. His email sign-off is “The strength of a nation is measured by the least of its people” says it all. He’s an advocate for the underdog.

But Can John Bauters Win?

He’s came out of nowhere to thrust himself into the equation as a viable candidate. As I’ve stated in a previous post, Bauters is up against some heavy odds as R.U.L.E. affiliated Councilmembers have thrown their influence behind the Donahue/Martinez slate and his later entry cost him some key endorsements. Emeryville needs new, fresh ideas and I believe that John Bauters can provide these (my biggest concern with John is the fact that he’s overqualified for the job). I believe having a cross-section of Emeryville represented in Council and having John on would fortify this. Seniors, Parents, Professionals, Small Business Owners, Pet-owners … John brings a fresh perspective to Emeryville and one that I think can take us to the next level as a city. John’s qualifications speak for themselves and he’s personally earned my vote. Has he earned yours?

“In the end, I accomplished what I set out to do. I ran a completely positive campaign, I talked about issues and ideas, we made over 2,500 door knocks and held numerous events. I accepted the request to meet any person who asked for it and I am better for the whole experience. We live in a wonderful little community and whether I win or lose, I wanted to change the way people viewed politics. I want it to be a place where people put ideas before identities. True progressivism promotes change and real change takes time. Be the change you want to see and someday you will.”

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

10 Responses to Election Coverage: Can John Bauters pull off an E’ville upset?

  1. Christine says:

    Nothing about your “underdog” story makes any sense.

    Despite entering the race on the last day, Bauters has raised the most money by the 460 you yourself quoted. Bauters is the only candidate endorsed by Kurt Brinkman, who on Sunday, sent out a No on U and V robo-call to Emeryville land lines (despite voting the opposite way on City Council six months ago). Brinkman has purchased ads on the E’Ville Eye supporting Bauters.

    This election, only Martinez and Donahue have been endorsed by Mayor Jac Asher, councilmembers Jennifer West and Nora Davis, the Sierra Club, State Senator Loni Hancock, and the Democratic Party. None of these people have endorsed Bauters.

    Bauters is not the “underdog.” He is your personal friend. This election, you have a real choice: elect an artist and a mom or elect someone with no history of civic engagement in Emeryville.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Christine. I want to clarify that John is not a personal friend and if he’s elected, I will hold him to the same level of scrutiny as the other other Candidates. An “Artist and a Mom” or someone who’s full-time job is creating public policy and advocating for things like affordable Housing and The Homeless? Hmmm … (I by the way am an “artist” and don’t consider myself necessarily qualified for City Council … much less journalism 😉

      I didn’t know about the Brinkman Robocalls though. Thanks for shedding light on this.

      • Rob says:

        Rob, this is disgusting! Your past two articles have shown your true colors – you’re not reporting the news, you’re trying to shape Emeryville to your will.

        You have zero ethics… And forget bending the truth, you’re flat out lying when you say John has a track record of community involvement. Can’t wait til this election is over so you can go back to your imaginary world of reporting issues that matter only to you. Thanks again for your Election Day fluff piece for Bauters. And to be clear, I have nothing against Jon, but I think what you’re doing with your blog is hurting his chances – both now and in the future – more than anything he has said or done.

      • Rob says:

        Sorry you feel this way “Rob” (Your real name, BTW? Have I met you?). Tell me what is more unethical: City Council using their power and influence to “Shape Emeryville” by supporting less qualified candidates … or a news blogger using his own free time to combat this by supporting the more qualified underdog that has been teamed up on by the political establishment. It sickens me personally and yes, I look forward to going back to posting articles about food and development.

      • Rob says:

        Oh and “imaginary world of reporting issues that matter only to you” can you be specific here? I’ve stated many times that the food and development posts perform way better than anything political that I write. Are crime and spotlighting a recently murdered resident irrelevant to you? Are providing exposure to our small business and culture irrelevant to you?

  2. Ruth Major says:

    The artist, Scott Donahue, is in fact a 37 year resident who has been politically involved since his arrival in the city. The mom, Dianne Martinez, has been actively engaged in her community also. John Bauters is new in town and yes he is doing stellar work at the state level, but he has yet to learn about e-ville and its history. That is apparent when you hear him talk, which I have several times.

    The exciting part of this year’s election is that we have three electable candidates who are committed to serving our city. I for one, cherish that. My hope is to work on John’s election in 2 year’s time and not 4! I would like to see him get involved with a committee or two. I would like to see him through actions and not just words.

    I value the fact that Scott and Dianne have worked hard to hear the voices of the residents. Scott has been an advocate of affordable housing for most of his time in e-ville. He helped negotiate with the city so that the artists could purchase the coop and that it was affordable. And he has been involved in many, many more creative, important, livable touches to the city.

    Dianne will also add another link between the city and its schools, including early education which often gets forgotten in the discussion of education in our city. She is also a tech wizard and that is helpful as we continue to develop an infrastructure geared toward the tech world.

    And Ken Bukowski, he too still cares about the city and spends his time documenting the life and times of it.

    It will not be an easy job, especially if U & V fail to pass. Celebrate civic duty and thank them all!

    • Rob says:

      Thanks for this Ruth. Scott is clearly the second most qualified candidate here (I honestly don’t consider propping yourself behind the camera at City Council meeting and not saying anything “engaging”). I’ve seen John speak in front of the four several times and honestly, It’s not even close. He’s the only one that offers realistic solutions and is versed in real policy (Actually Ken does a pretty good job here as well). You’re right though. We’re lucky to have good people that want to make this commitment and sacrifice to the city.

  3. Joan Hitlin says:

    { I think Scott and Dianne will be great councilpersons,
    + since this email is post election it is not meant to
    change any outcomes. I do however wish to add my
    belated two cents. }

    Although John may not be your friend, he (along with his
    partner Aaron and dog King) is certainly my friend + neighbor, and I can say without hesitation that he is absolutely
    the real deal.

    Although he looks young for his 35 years — he is an old soul,
    a passionate and brilliant advocate for the under-represented,
    a dedicated and experienced public servant, and a warmly
    generous spirit.

    I’ve heard rumors that John was “only in it for fun,” and I can
    surmise how someone who barely knows him might hastily
    jump to that conclusion. Wow, does he ever love his work,
    love meeting new people, and love hashing out difficult issues!
    He happens to be one of those enviably fortunate beings
    who finds deep joy in doing the heavy lifting of seriously challenging work.

    We in Emeryville will be lucky if John Bauters decides to
    run for office again in two years.

    • Rob says:

      Well put Joan and this echo’s my sentiments about John. Emeryville would have been lucky to enlist John’s abilities and passion into it’s services.

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