Welch Defeats Danielsson-Chang Amid Anemic Emeryville Special Election Voter Turnout

3 mins read

Emeryville will likely elect its first Black female in 34 years after all mail-in ballots have been counted and the election has been certified.

Christie Core resident Courtney Welch maintains a 124 vote advantage over Watergate resident Charlotte Danielsson-Chang in Tuesday’s Emeryville Special Election to replace resigned Councilmember Christian Patz.

According to the latest tally by the county, Welch had garnered 641 votes to Danielsson-Chang’s 517. Emeryville, approaching 13,000 residents according to the 2020 census, has 7,069 registered voters according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Of these 7,069 registered voters, only 1,167 or about 16.5% cast a ballot despite all registered voters receiving mail-in ballots. Only 37 voters turned out to the polls the day of the election. The 641 votes that Welch carries represents less than 5% of the city’s population.

Nov. 5, updated totals from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters: Welch furthered her lead on Danielsson-Chang approaching nearly 60% of the vote. Voter turnout is approaching 25% and day of poll voting increased from 37 to 39.

Nov. 16, update: The Election has officially been certified by The Alameda County Registrar of Voters.


Welch, who only moved to Emeryville earlier this year, stumbled out of the gates by filing an factually inaccurate candidate statement. She was able recover and garner the endorsements of just about every local politician in the East Bay including all four sitting councilmembers.

Welch also dramatically out-fundraised Danielsson-Chang including nearly $10,000 in contributions from labor groups. Danielsson-Chang self-funded and raised less than the $2,000 required to be reported to the FPPC.

It is likely Danielsson-Chang drew the ire of the council when she alleged “ethical violations” against them in a recent Guest Piece for their rejection of a qualified AAPI candidate for a Planning Commission seat in favor of a younger, white candidate.

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Twitter Campaigning

Welch effectively ran her campaign through twitter often with amplification from other local electeds and the very active “Housing Twitter” ongoing debate. She also enlisted the help of a local “YIMBY” organization for door-knocking and phone banking.

While very few Emeryville residents are active on the platform, politicians, members of the media and activists are.

Despite all of these advantages, they collectively netted her only a 124 vote lead over Danielsson-Chang with some mail-in ballots still to be counted.

Nov. 5, update: Welch increased her advantage to 322 votes.

Welch mysteriously blocked The E’ville Eye’s Twitter account despite not having any personal negative interactions with her on the platform.

An anonymous commenter did accuse her of being a “carpetbagger” in her candidate questionnaire referring to how she had lived in Emeryville for only three months prior to opting to run for the city’s highest office.

Things Get Testy at League of Women Voters Candidate Forum

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters (LoWV) hosted a candidate forum last week to provide undecided voters with the opportunity to see the two candidates in action. LoWV is a nonpartisan organization and does not make endorsements on candidates.

Roughly 50 people pre-registered for the event and about 30 of those were in attendance for the hour long event. It’s worth noting that again none of the existing elected officials bothered to retweet the event to amplify awareness to their followers. The E’ville Eye used its email subscriber list to encourage viewership of the event as well as our Facebook and Twitter audiences.

Chang rankled some in the city earlier in the week by declaring herself “the diversity candidate” in an email newsletter. Danielsson-Chang, an immigrant from Sweden, has bi-racial children including a gay son. Diversity has come to encompass not just one’s ethnic origins, but cultural and gender diversity.

Danielsson-Chang, likely realizing her long-shot status, went on the offensive at the forum attacking Welch’s credentials, her acceptance of large amounts of PAC money and challenging her tenure in the city. At one point in the forum, the moderator issued a warning to cease these personal criticisms.

Current Councilmembers predictably took to Twitter afterward to blast Danielsson-Chang for the criticisms. Councilmember John Bauters chastised Danielsson-Chang for “introducing negativity.”

Bauters seemed to be ignoring that this has always been part of local politics and they themselves have all partaken in it. Bauters was mercilessly bullied as a candidate in 2014 by the Dianne Martinez/Scott Donahue slate and their affiliated opinion blog.

A member of the Martinez household went as far as to use a bogus name to blast Bauters on our site for having “no history of civic engagement in Emeryville,” when the outcome was very much in question.

In 2016, Bauters leaked a story to the press about rival candidate Ally Medina failing to attend a Shoreline cleanup event despite her touting so on social media. Bauters also blasted Media for being “not sincere” and questioning her involvement in the Parks & Rec committee.

These incidents are likely just the tip of the iceberg in the very insular world of Emeryville politics.

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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.


  1. Voter turnout like this is why Emeryville citizens get screwed every single time. They only have themselves to blame.

    City Hall knows its citizens are asleep at the wheel, or too busy lamenting Public Market options or buying cheap trinkets from China on Amazon.

  2. Sadly we continue to elect folks to city council that don’t seem to care about the living conditions and issues in the north side of the city. Sad that no one starting by bauters has taken any ownership of the housing crisis, crime and lack of maintenance (street cleaning etc) north of 65th toward the 580 encampment. City council only cares to bring large developers but don’t seem to care much about the citizens and small biz.
    Sad to see grownups fighting and bullying others simple for having a different opinion. Diversity is more than just race

    • Election of a career housing crisis solution solver will quickly turn the Emeryville crisis around. Oh wait! The crisis has only gotten worse in Oakland during her tenure.

      Maybe John and Ally can hug and work together removing all the “Elect Courtney” signs polluting our city.

    • City Hall doesn’t care about any residents. Once you understand that, you will save yourself some disappointment.

      Homeless/”Unhoused”, “justifiable and understandable” looters, cannabis companies, and biotech are the exemptions. And SEIU.

      City Hall’s legacy speaks and will continue to speak for itself.

  3. Wow, Rob, there’s so much to unpack here.

    1. Had the outcome been the opposite but with the same total numbers, would you have minimized Danielsson-Chang’s victory in this way?

    2. Get over yourself about the candidate filing mistake. It was a small error, and as before, you ignore the fact that there hadn’t been a Black woman on the city council since the 1980s. Your harping on this is nitpicky to a fault and lacks journalistic integrity in its zeal to smear Welch.

    3. Ooh, a $10,000 campaign. So Welch raised approximately $1.50 per registered voter. Biden raised approximately $1,000 per registered voter in his campaign. Trump raised even more. This is a non-issue.

    4. If Danielsson-Chang had been pressed to explain her claim that she was “the diversity candidate,” she would likely have defaulted to some kind of dictionary definition argument, which is kind of what you’re doing here. That’s a weak, deceptive rhetorical strategy employed by the #wellactually crowd. Before the LWV forum, I thought Danielsson-Chang was perhaps just ignorant of how offensive her words were; after the forum, I realized that she was fully aware of the shit she was stirring.

    5. Related: Thanks for the history lesson of various councilmembers throwing shade on each other. Never mind that while you were talking about Bauters’ being previously negative about Medina, you also showed him amplifying her voice.

    6. Still related: It wasn’t just that Danielsson-Chang went negative during the forum, it was — as Medina sharply pointed out — a belittling and disdain based in racism, classism, or both. It was a whole ‘nother level of negativity that belongs in the past. It was also a shocking display of entitlement.

    Finally…I agree with you about one thing, at least: the turnout was abysmal. The city did a piss-poor job of getting the word out about the election, not to mention the forum. I only found out about it because of your email, so thanks for that. I’m looking forward to Welch making sure more of the community is aware of what’s happening in the city and increasing participation.

    • “you ignore the fact that there hadn’t been a Black woman on the city council since the 1980s.” – It’s literally in the first sentence of this story and mentioned in every story we’ve published about this election. She likely learned about this fact from our website. Had she reached out to anyone (including the other 4 councilmembers that endorsed her or even me) this could have been rectified.
      Regarding the $10K in donations, that was just two donations from labor. There were many more. I did not total them up.
      The poor turnout and communication about the election I think is very relevant to this story. If Danielsson-Chang had won, the low turnout would still be a big part of this story.

      • What I’m saying is that she made a simple mistake but you’re treating it like malfeasance. “She likely learned about this fact from our website” is yet another casual disparagement that has characterized your approach to Welch from the jump, and beyond that is a pretty bold assumption without anything to back it up.

        Regarding the total donations, even if she spent $2 or $3/registered voter, that’s thoroughly consistent with other races in the area. You’re making a bigger deal of it than it is, and I think you’re doing so because you’re biased. I doubt you would have highlighted it as much had it been the other way around.

        And yes, while I’m sure you would have noted the low turnout either way, I sincerely doubt you would have noted it in a way meant to diminish Danielsson-Chang’s victory like you did with Welch’s.

        Bottom line is that your bias has been showing hard this entire election, and I expect better from a site that hypes itself as “hyperlocal news.” Leave the opinions to the commenters and the editorial page.

      • Thanks Rob for:
        1. Informing us Courtney wasn’t elected with a mandate.
        2. Informing us Courtney is a proven liar, and labels them as small lies, false narratives or half truths. She lied about her historical run. She lied about her housing situation. Another liar elected to office.
        3. Informing us Courtney is blocking access to long term residents concerned about Emeryville. Most people don’t have time to attend campaign events, council meetings, or even read tweets requesting pictures of themselves, about clothes, or tweets complaining about following the housing rules, etc. but we do have time to read summaries of candidates positions in newspapers. Liberals hate sunshine.
        4. Informing us the majority of Courtney’s campaign contributions came from outside the city from union organizations that already dictate the agenda to the current council members. How many dresses did Courtney buy with the contributions? How many months of housing payments did Courtney pay with those contributions?
        5. Informing us Danielsson-Chang was using the dictionary in regards to immigration and race. It’s unbelievable to read Courtney greeting everyone with “Y’all” as if Emeryville is in the deep south. Another example of liberals ignorance of their surroundings.
        6. Informing us Courtney’s claim of leadership in homeless issues is just another example of “the higher a leader climbs, the more you can see their ass.”
        7. Maintaining this news site – I didn’t realize how stupid some of the Emeryville residents are.

  4. This reads like a hit piece on Courtney Welch. Very unprofessional. No discussion about the policy issues that make up her campaign. Are you just pissed that she blocked you on Twitter, or is it that her pro-housing stance irks your NextDoor friends, Mr. Arias?

    • 1. Letting us know Courtney won by the slim margin of 124 votes. This is encouraging to non socialists for the next election.
      2. Reminding us Courtney moved to Emeryville only a few months before the election. That stinks of corruption.
      3. Reminding us Courtney’s campaign started with a lie. Now we learn her housing situation is probably also a lie.
      4. Informing us Courtney was endorsed by every member of the current cabal. Diversity of ideas is never important in socialist regimes.
      5. Informing us Courtney’s campaign contributions came from a special interest group outside of Emeryville.
      6. Reminding us Danielsson-Chang was the target of the current council because she pointed out their discrimination against a AAPI candidate for the planning commission.
      7. Letting us know Courtney is unwilling to communicate with certain news organizations. Right out of the Biden and Pelosi handbook.
      8. Reminding us criticizing Courtney is not allowed.
      9. Reminding us Courtney’s “leadership” of fighting homelessness over the past decade has resulted in increased homelessness.
      10. Reminding us Bauters is a socialist hypocrite when it comes to criticizing other council members.
      11. Publishing this news site.

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