Four declare candidacy for two vacancies in fall City Council election

5 mins read

The decisions by both Jennifer West & Kurt Brinkman to bow out of Emeryville Politics after a single-term opened up City Council to two new candidates. The official deadline to file candidacy papers closed on Wednesday, August 13th at 5pm (88 days before this years’ November 4th election). While longtime resident Scott Donahue and political newcomer Dianne Martinez officially declared their intent to run back in April, two new candidates have declared their candidacy “just under the wire”.

In what was shaping up to be a “one-horse race” for the two vacancies suddenly got interesting with the revelation that former Councilmember Ken Bukowski is throwing his hat back into the political ring as well as the declaration of candidacy of a relatively unknown Park Avenue District resident, John Bauters. Bukowski, the 62-year-old former Councilmember mulled over his decision until the last-minute but ultimately decided to enter the race. “I wanted to make sure the people of Emeryville elected their city council members. It was looking as if there wasn’t going to even be an election which is the perfect opportunity to raise the issues that need to be discussed”.

EPOA (Emeryville Property Owners Association) identifies itself as a “newly incorporated non-profit corporation created to enhance and protect the Emeryville Community”. It’s unclear if Bukowski, if elected, would have to forfeit his position with the EPOA which is a primary source of income. The EPOA is effectively a lobbyist organization for small & medium sized businesses and would possibly create a conflict of interest on certain items that Bukowski would have to recuse himself from. I have reached out to City Attorney Michael Biddle for clarification. Bukowski, despite some political baggage, could conceivably win just based on name recognition alone because of the populations’ general disinterest in City Politics.

Newcomer John Bauters, a Besler Building resident, also submitted his papers just under the filing deadline to generate some intrigue and add a fresh face to the mix. Bauters, a Boston College Law School graduate originally from Michigan, is a lawyer and Policy Director for homelessness at Housing California. Bauters is a dark horse in the election for sure as he is relatively unknown and inactive in Emeryville politics but has the law pedigree that should serve him well.

In an apparent preemptive maneuver, Councilmembers Asher, West, Davis and Atkin all endorsed “The Emeryville Forward” Slate of Donahue & Martinez prior to the filing deadline putting the two RULE (Residents United for a Livable Emeryville) endorsed candidates as frontrunners to capture a progressive majority. Kurt Brinkman has yet to make an official endorsement but has opposition to endorsing a “slate” of candidates. “I feel it’s important for each candidate to stand up and clearly state what their platform is for the City Of Emeryville” Brinkman stated over email. RULE identifies themselves as “A citizens group focused on issues of public safety, affordable housing, education and sustainable development”.

The following are statements from the four candidates that have filed. Because Bukowski technically filed beyond the 5pm deadline (Something he attests because he was forced to wait in the City Hall lobby for the City Clerk for “20 minutes”), his candidacy statement was not “officially” recognized and may not appear on the ballot. Bukowski’s statement also violates the 250-word threshold outlined in Proposition 34.

Dianne Martinez (Mother/Television Producer):


I am a television producer with experience managing projects from San Francisco to Siberia. I’m able to process large amounts of information and drill down to what is important. I know how to research complex issues, ask direct questions, and most importantly, listen. I have two preschool-aged children, whom I look forward to sending to public school in Emeryville. With Jennifer West leaving office, Emeryville is losing the voice of a young parent on our City Council. I’m running for City Council to stand up for the issues that matter to families. As a mother, schools and safety are prime concerns. As your Councilmember, I will work to preserve Emeryville’s outstanding police and fire services and uphold the community’s demand for safe and viable connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists. I will also work to ensure that Emeryville’s public transportation needs are met. You can count on me to give thoughtful consideration to the issues that face our city. For more information, visit www.martinez2014.org. Key endorsements: Mayor Jac Asher, Councilmember Ruth Atkin, Councilmember Nora Davis, Councilmember Jennifer West.

Scott Donahue (Teacher/Artist):


I have lived in Emeryville for over 30 years, residing with my wife at the Emeryville Artists Cooperative, which I cofounded. I am a local artist who has earned most of my living making public art, including the Emeryville PG&E sculptures. I have served the City as a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee for more than 10 years, ensuring that Emeryville remains a leader in reducing carbon emissions through our commitment to non-motorized transportation. The elimination of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency has left a significant funding gap in our city’s capital projects budget, which has halted many important affordable housing projects. The next city council will need to focus on ensuring the economic viability of Emeryville, while also making our city more livable by prioritizing neighborhoods and public safety. As your councilmember, I will work to preserve our outstanding police and fire services. I will uphold the community’s demand for safe, viable connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, and I will work to make sure that Emeryville’s public transportation needs are met. For more information about my campaign, please visit www.donahue2014.org. Key endorsements: Mayor Jac Asher, Councilmember Nora Davis, Councilmember Ruth Atkin, Councilmember Jennifer West.

Ken Bukowski (Videographer/Consultant):


I served on the city council for 24 years from 1987-2011. During my tenure Emeryville was transformed from an industrial wasteland, into a vibrant community. We have a lot to be proud of. With the loss of redevelopment money. The city is undergoing tremendous change. The last three years of my life has also seen a dramatic change. My dedication to the community remains as strong as it ever was. I collect retirement money, and I work part-time for a group of smaller Emeryville Property owners who discovered the importance of not paying attention to City Hall. I came to their rescue in Dec 2011, to help them defeat an unfairly created assessment district. Trying to do what’s right is not always easy.

In an effort to make the community and the region more aware of the meetings I became a videographer. I work full-time posting and recording videos of Emeryville and regional public meetings for the public benefit. The meetings are on YouTube. The result of this work has improved my awareness of the issues, both locally and regionally. I feel more qualified to serve than ever before. My work has also created the opportunity for the Emery Go-Round to receive a portion of our sales tax money, to help ensure continued service. With the new Emeryville Center of Community Life we have a unique opportunity to bring the city together for common benefit. I am a positive thinking and hard-working individual who will always care about our community. Please allow my experience to work for you on the city council.

John Bauters (Public Policy Director):


Dear Neighbors and Friends, As a small but strong city in the heart of the East Bay, Emeryville is strategically positioned to serve as a regional model of smart development, sustainable growth and social diversity. I have spent ten years in nonprofit development, promoting public policies and practices that advance the livability of local communities. As our resident population grows, the need to protect what makes Emeryville livable should be at the forefront of local decisions. Families deserve to live where there are green spaces for children and dogs to play; outdoor enthusiasts deserve to enjoy the natural marvels of life in the East Bay without additional traffic congestion and pollution; and people of all economic classes and social identities deserve the opportunity to not just live and work, but thrive in a place we can all call “home.” As a statewide policy director on issues related to affordable and transit-oriented home development and sustainable growth, I understand the importance of compromise and cooperation as a means of making progress. If trusted with your vote, I will use those skills to keep Emeryville a livable, desirable place for us all.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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