2014 candidate John Bauters has officially thrown his hat back in the Emeryville political ring with the launch of a new website and twitter account. The declaration kicks off the 2016 Emeryville Council race that could be a pivotal one for the Small Business community and projects like the Sherwin-Williams development.
Three seats are up for grabs including those currently occupied by Nora Davis, Ruth Atkin and Jac Asher. 88-year-old, 28 year Councilperson Nora Davis has already gone on record as saying she will not be seeking reelection (but I wouldn’t completely count her out ;). Asher and Atkin have not publicly declared their intent to run and rumors have pointed in either direction for both.
Bauters has established himself as a leader on the Planning Commission and Housing Committee and is regularly someone the current council turns to for his insight on Affordable Housing and Homeless issues. A relative newcomer in 2014, Bauters lost his bid by less than 200 votes. Bauters has procured the respect and endorsements of many in the community (including all five sitting councilpeople), has built bridges and is widely considered a favorite to claim one of the three vacating seats.
Council Incumbents (L-R): Jac Asher, Ruth Atkin & Nora Davis.
Four term, sixteen year incumbent Ruth Atkin has not formerly tipped her hand either way. Atkin has a reputation of being a pragmatist and has supported both job-creating development projects and social justice initiatives throughout her terms. While she helped spearhead the contentious Minimum Wage Ordinance, she also supported the Public Market Development Agreement that was opposed by the “RULE block” of Asher, Martinez and Donahue. Atkin does not formerly align herself with any of the other candidates and is considered to be a wild card on certain key issues. Atkin also has a high moral character and took a verbal stand against recent bullying and verbal harassment in our town.
Single term incumbent Jac Asher has established herself as the most powerful person in Emeryville Politics and effectively wields three votes as Mayor Martinez and Councilmember Donahue often blindingly follow her lead. Asher has some political victories under her belt but has also been a polarizing figure in her tenure by taking ideological positions and her close affiliation with Tattler Editor Brian Donahue. Nonetheless, she has the advantage of being an incumbent, the advocacy of RULE behind her and would likely receive the prized Democratic Party endorsement that a high percentage of disengaged voters mindlessly check. If Asher decided to run for reelection, she’ll have to get out from behind the dais and address criticism, somethings she’s been reluctantly to do thus far.
If Asher indeed decides not to run, RULE will surely be determined to keep their majority on council by presenting a candidate to push their social-justice first agenda. RULE has been holding regular outreach through The Tattler to identify potential candidates and influence council by proxy.
It’s foreseeable that former Councilmember Ken Bukowski could throw his hat back in the ring yet again despite some political baggage. Ken has been a force for transparency in our town by regularly recording sparsely attended meetings in our city and region and opening them up for more citizens to witness how our committees and agencies operate. No other Candidates are on my personal radar have but if history serves us, a fresh face will hopefully emerge in Emeryville Politics (Andre Carpiaux, are you listening?)
In a city with a high resident turnover and among the lowest voter turnout in the county, anything can happen. In 2011, All three candidates won their seats in 2011 with less than 1000 votes each. Emeryville has since shifted to an even year election cycle and in tandem with a hotly contested Presidential election, we should see a higher turnout. The official deadline to file candidacy papers for the November 8th election is Monday, August 8th at 5pm. If neither incumbent files, the deadline is extended another week.