Meet Your City Council Candidates: Videographer & Consultant Ken Bukowski

Published On October 7, 2014 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Politics

We’ve covered candidates John Bauters, Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue. Our last candidate profile is Ken Bukowski.

When all is said and done, Ken will end up being one of the most colorful characters our city has ever seen. The 62-year-old, 6-term, former Councilmember has a resume in Emeryville Politics that is unlike any this city has seen since the legendary John LaCoste. After Ken’s well publicized 2011 council defeat, he immediately reinvented himself as a consultant for the EPOA group that he helped found to represent the interests of small and medium-sized property owners. He’s also developed a passion for videography and can often be seen manning the camera at even the smallest, less-significant committee meetings.

Ken was the first person that acknowledged me when I inquired about creating the The E’ville Eye and he’s always been forthcoming with his opinions and perspectives on city issues. Both The E’ville Eye and the Tattler have lauded Ken for his creation of his YouTube channel filled with city meetings and archives and his diligent recording of meetings that had previously been undocumented.

Additional resources about Ken can be found at the bottom of the questionnaire including his Green Party Questionnaire.


* Please note that Ken’s questionnaire was incomplete and answers have been published verbatim *

1). So where are you from originally and what brought you to Emeryville?
From Brooklyn, New York. I came to Emeryville in June, 1977 to open a nightclub business known as “The Silks.”  I’ve lived in Emeryville since 1980, first at Watergate, and then, in 1982 I moved to Doyle Street.

2). What compelled you to run for Emeryville City Council? Can you refer us to a specific moment that helped reaffirm your commitment?
I decided to run for city council because it appeared as if only two people were going to run. I wanted to make sure two new candidates were elected by the people. My commitment to the city is long established. I’m in this election because I want to raise some issues about community involvement, and accountability.

3). Being an effective Councilmember can require upwards of 20 hours per week of your personal time. How do you intend to balance this with your career, family-life and do you think the relatively low-wages that Councilmembers receive are a barrier to attracting more qualified candidates?

Being an effective councilmember involves much more than your available time. You should not accept a council member position, if you want to make a living, Allowing the council members to have a part-time staff person would be a bigger benefit. It would ease the burden council members have staying on top of invitations, or communicating with the public. a part time staff person would improve communications with the public. I have no family and no other obligations. I already work full time attending local and regional meetings.

4). How do you intend to finance your campaign and will you be employing a campaign manager? Are there any major contributors that you can disclose ($1000+)? What Political party are you aligned with?

I’m not planning on running an expensive campaign. I am not hiring a campaign manager.  Most of the money will come from smaller property owners who are part of the Emeryville Property Owners Association (EPOA) in the north Hollis Area. At this time I have not raised any money, but it will be fully disclosed.

5). Community engagement in Emeryville has historically been abysmal. Any ideas on how we can further engage Emeryville residents and even increase civic participation and voter turnout?
No Answer provided.

6). One of the major agendas that the city has been trying to solve is getting families to root in Emeryville by incentivized developers to include family-friendly housing in new projects (Generally, units larger than 2 bedroom). Do you think this is important to the maturation of our city and the right approach?

The city’s plan for family housing is not successful. Requiring larger bedroom units is not a tool to attract families, unless they are affordable. Retention of existing families should be a concern. Part of the goal is to attract more school aged kids. The quality of the school is the key component. The city doesn’t seem to have a specified number of units to achieve. ?  Families with children all have cars. They could have the 1st option for available parking spaces. The City should reevaluate the policy.

M any existing Emeryville residents, lower AND middle-class, are getting pushed out by rising rent costs with absolutely no course of retribution. How can we help solve this? Is pursuing any rent-stabilization measures or alternatives even viable? Do you think we need to incentivize developers to build more for-sale, affordable units?

The real estate market is forcing existing residents out of the city. The city should only allow ownership housing, to the best extent possible. Allowing low income people to buy their unit makes it more possible for them to stay and participate. It provides a sense of pride and ownership. The city sees little participation from mega rental housing projects, and they should be discouraged. The city should look into some form of rent stabalization

7). Many existing Emeryville residents, lower AND middle-incomes, are getting pushed out by rising rent costs with absolutely no course of retribution. How can we help solve this? Is pursuing any rent-stabilization measures or alternatives even viable?

No Answer provided.

8). Do you think we need to incentivize developers to build more for-sale, affordable units while discouraging all-rental units? If so, how can we do this?

No Answer provided.

9). Traffic, Parking, Bike-ability & Public Transportation are becoming a greater issue in our city. Tell us one thing we can do to make the biggest impact on these.

Retaing the Emery Go Round has to be a top priority.

10). Homelessness is a regional issue and pushing them across our borders isn’t helping solve the problem. What should the city do and what approach should we take with “Camp CalTrans” (The homeless camp next to Target)?

No Answer provided.

11). In regards to the ECCL, tell us one thing that could have been done better to make the project more beneficial to students, parents and the community. If you had school-age children, would you have any reservations about sending them to the ECCL?

Your question is asking about the past when we haven’t seen the finished prioduct and don’t know how it will be perceived by the community. I have great hope for the ECCL Project, and have an excellent idea for community engagement.
I have some questions about mixxing the lower grade students with the high school students but we’ll haave to wait and see.

12). We’ve observed how creating Pet-friendly resources like dog-parks and trails can create interaction amongst residents and further engagement. Do you think this should be a higher priority in the city?

No Answer provided.

13). The E’ville Eye is committed to promoting civic transparency and engagement through technology & social media including accessible city videos, Crime-statistics & the status of Public Works projects. Do you support this and will you commit to working to improve this for the media and our city? 

I am fgully committed to transparency at both the local and regional levels. I maintain TWO YouTube Channels

1270 Emeryville videos →

254  Regional videos →

I have created a Public Notice and Accountability Ballot Measure for a future election to enforce the city commitment to transparency. A copy can be found here (PDF).

14). One of the agendas we’ve been promoting on The E’ville Eye is getting a pilot Emery Go-Round route to West Oakland BART as we’ve found roughly 3/4 of ridership is commuting to/from SF and would offer time-savings of an estimated 30-45 minutes roundtrip. Will you advocate for this or do you think this is a bad idea?
it’s a great idea, but as explained above the existing Emery Go Round Board has no real incentive to pay attention to the community needs. There is no existing service policy . I think we can have a route to West Oak Bart, but it probably cant be considered until a new funding plan is adopted

15). Can you commit to accomplishing just one thing over the next four years that we can hold you to should you be elected?

I seek to accomplish the concept of bringing the community together as I have tried many times. they say if you keep trying you will eventually succeed. I can see the benefit to everyone. since being off the council I accomplished the voluntary 10 day advance period to receive the agenda information, under the threat of moving forward.

However, I’m not satisfied with the result. I think all of the items in the measure should be adopted. You can hold me to that.

Read Ken’s Green Party Questionnaire → [PDF]

KenBukowski.com →

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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.

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