Today officially marks the first day Emeryville residents can submit paperwork with the City to declare candidacy for one of the three vacating Council seats. 88-year-old Councilmember Nora Davis stated long ago that this would be her final term and Councilmembers Asher and Atkin have both recently stated they will not be seeking reelection. The lack of incumbents could make this race wide open and could represent another political shift in Emeryville.
Emeryville Residents- 3 Council Openings this election cycle. Nomination period is 7/18-8/12. Election on 11/8. Contact City Clerk for info.
— Emeryville, CA (@EmeryvilleCA) July 1, 2016
Getting qualified candidates to run has always been a challenge in our city as the base pay combined with time commitment poses a challenge in an area with such an exorbitant cost of living. Councilmembers receive an annual salary of only roughly $13,000 but do qualify for health care coverage and can increase their compensation through traveling stipends and by sitting on committees. A Council seat is generally regarded as part-time and demands upwards of twenty hours per week. Getting someone to run who works full-time or is raising a family is almost inconceivable and narrows the pool of qualified candidates.
RULE Candidate Christian Patz
EBASE/SEIU affiliated political group RULE (Residents United for a Livable Emeryville) will surely be determined to keep their majority on council along with Councilmembers Donahue & Martinez and keep their union agenda at the forefront of our City’s priorities. RULE has been conducting regular outreach through their affiliated Emeryville Tattler blog to encourage and vet candidates that meet their objectives.
RULE appears to have found their man in School Board Trustee Christian Patz. Patz identifies himself as a Triangle neighborhood resident since 2003 and works as an education administrator. Patz made headlines recently when he accused other board members of a Brown Act Violation causing a stir at a School Board Meeting. More about Patz can be read on his candidate website.
Adding to the intrigue of this election is the revelation that former Councilmember John Fricke has returned to Emeryville after spending time abroad. Fricke sat on Council from 2005 to 2009 and is credited with helping bring local business to the CVS Promenade shopping area and being a staunch bicycle advocate. “Unfortunately, I have not decided yet” Fricke replied when contacted noting he was still settling back in to Emeryville with a new employer.
Additional names that have publicly expressed interest in a run include former EUSD staff member Brynnda Collins. Collins is mother of Emeryville School Board Appointee Brittany Collins-Rogers. In addition, recent Emeryville resident Alexandra “Ally” Medina’s name is being touted as a possible candidate. Medina is listed as the Executive Director at San Francisco Democratic Party. Former Councilmember Ken Bukowski is a name who always gets attention around election time. Ken has stayed active in local politics by recording regional meetings that help promote civic transparency. 2014 candidate John Bauters declared his candidacy back in February.
Alameda County Democratic Party Endorsement
The biggest hurdle for any candidate remains getting the Alameda County Democratic Party Endorsement. Emeryville is consistently at the bottom of the Alameda County voter turnout and our high resident turnover is a contributing factor to our low voter engagement. Nearly 60% of registered voters in Emeryville are registered Democrat and an endorsement by the Democratic Party all but guarantees a candidate victory. With limited exposure by large media, a bulk of Emeryville voters purportedly vote according to endorsement mailers. Potential Democratic candidates are nominated and interviewed by the Alameda County Democratic Committee chaired by Robin Torello. With three vacant seats, the committee is only allowed to endorse three candidates. A complete list of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee bylaws are listed on ACDems.org.
The City has a special section of its website devoted to information about the Election. Interested candidates should email City Clerk Sheri Hartz at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The E’ville Eye conducted an election questionnaire in 2014 to profile candidates and hope to do so again after the August 12th filing deadline when the list of candidates is official.