Welch Defeats Danielsson-Chang Amid Anemic Emeryville Special Election Voter Turnout
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.
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.
⏰ ⏰ Just hours away!!! The candidates for the vacant seat on the Emeryville City Council will appear at our forum TODAY, October 26th, 6:30-7:30pm.🗓 Register at https://t.co/Sc3H3OUe4C. pic.twitter.com/jhpVvljDFd
— LWVBAE (@lwvbae) October 26, 2021
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.”
Many people have tried to introduce negativity into Emeryville’s political discourse in recent years. Our community has continued to reject those voices.
If you attack the lived and professional experience of our BIPOC community members, you don’t belong in our city leadership. https://t.co/9CprvQpMU2
— John J. Bauters 🌿 (@JohnBauters) October 28, 2021
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.