Election Day is November 6, 2018. This post will provide you with some information about voting and also about the candidates, in their own words. Before the Q&A, here is some important information:
- The deadline to register to vote is TODAY, October 22nd! You can register to vote by visiting the Alameda County Registry of Voters or California Secretary of State websites.
- Do you know where your polling location is? There are four polling centers in Emeryville: City Hall, Fire Station 34, the YMCA, and Building A at the ECCL. Go to the ROV's Voter Profile page to learn which location is yours if you are unsure.
- If you are voting by mail, there is a 24-hour drop box in front of the Civic Center at 1333 Park Ave. where you can deposit your completed ballot anytime between now and the close of voting on November 6th.
- The candidates for City Council participated in a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany & Emeryville recently. If you want to hear where they stand on specific issues, you can view the forum here.
- We also have a very important school board race this year. If you would like to hear from the candidates for school board, you can view their LWV forum here.
The candidates for Emeryville City Council are, pictured below from left to right: Scott Donahue, Dianne Martinez, and Ken Bukowski.
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I offered all three candidates for city council the opportunity to provide readers with some general information about their candidacy. Candidates were given six questions and a word limit for each question. The candidates and their answer are presented in the same order that the candidates names appear on the ballot. Answers are taken verbatim from the responses the candidates submitted to me.
Question 1: Please tell us why you chose to run for council. (200 words)
Scott Donahue: "The job is interesting, entertaining and the remuneration is acceptable. The other benefits of this job -you get to steer, to some extent, the look, feel and function of our city. I won't be leaving the city until I am room temperature and horizontal so it's worth the effort to me. I think I can find common ground with others for our mutual benefit."
Dianne Martinez: "I'm running for Council so I can continue to fight for working families. California is the 5th largest economy in the world, and yet we suffer from stark wealth disparity. We have million dollar homes and homeless encampments simultaneously existing in our communities. I want to live in a city where we make a real dent in the Bay Area’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis by enacting smart and thoughtful legislation with real results. I want to live in a City where every child has an opportunity to succeed. I want to live in a City with good jobs, where business thrives. And I want to live in a city where we take we are taking real steps to address climate change, including strengthening our connections to public transportation and discouraging the use of single-occupancy vehicles. By serving a second term on the Emeryville City Council, I can continue to address these issues."
Ken Bukowski: "I am a 41 year resident, former business owner, former Emeryville Mayor/Council Member of 24 years. I am very concerned about the anti-business climate of the Council. This is a voice of experience trying to deliver a very important message. My departure from the City Council in 2011 provided the long awaited opportunity for outside labor leaders to get control of the council. Using the power of government a majority vote of the council abruptly adopted the highest minimum wage in the US followed by a “fair work week policy” over voice-full objection from business leaders. Business people like to feel respected for the benefit they provide. Instead, they were branded as greedy and exploiting workers to earn profit. Many business leaders learned, for the first time, 3 members of the city council have unfettered authority to impose an arbitrary minimum wage increase for private business. The cost of operating a business was suddenly increased. The once friendly business climate is over. Some businesses have closed, others are planning to leave. It takes more than location to retain businesses. It won't be long before the council will be forced to cut vital services. The well being of Emeryville should be the highest priority."
Question 2: In your opinion, what are the top 1 or 2 challenges facing our community today? (200 words)
Scott Donahue: "Affordable housing is the main challenge of our city and region. Climate change also continues to be a regional and global issue, but Emeryville is doing its part to ensure that our environment is protected. We are the greenest city in the county because we have prioritized public transportation, bicycles and pedestrian paths in addition to building dense housing near transit hubs."
Dianne Martinez: "Our top challenges in Emeryville are the intertwined crises of housing affordability and homelessness. In this small city, we all have neighbors who are struggling to pay their rents and mortgages. We have neighbors who are living in cars. We have neighbors who are living in tents. As rents continue to rise, and as the unhoused population grows, we can’t become desensitized to the indignities of living without a place to call home. And I’m so proud of the residents of this city for the true compassion and moral outrage they feel for the men, women, children, and animals who are living in a constant state of struggle."
Ken Bukowski: "a_ Loss of Businesses – stated above
B_ Displacement – Regional Growth - Unstable resident population- The City is impacted by the aggressive effort by the State and Regional Authorities to attract more people and jobs to this region. Emeryville residents are being displaced in record number. In addition they are mandating Emeryville to provide more housing...
B_ Parking Management Plan – Meters across the City – New Staff to Ticket & Tow Vehicles This is a very bad idea – This will make it more expensive to live and work here. One more blow for businesses. It will create a burden for the PD, even with extra staff. It may change the positive relation with the community
C_City Charter and Collection of Real Estate Transfer Tax
The City adopted a charter for the purpose of tax collection. It was an obvious effort to circumvent state law which only allows the tax to be collected in charter cities. In a charter city the residents come together and establish how the city government should operate (within a framework) The city simply ignored the purpose of a charter. The city attorney advised that a charter requires a few basic elements to be valid. The council ignored that advice. If the tax is challenged the city may be forced to suspend collecting the tax and worse yet refund money."
Question 3: How do you propose we solve or address those challenges? (250 words)
Scott Donahue: "Using our $50 million for affordable housing bond we need to effectively leverage those funds to create a diversified range of affordable housing. We need supportive housing for our homeless community, workforce housing especially for teachers if we are to improve our school district, family housing that is truly affordable, senior housing to enable our residents to spend their final years here in our city and limited equity live work housing for artists to build on our cultural assets that we have created in our city. We should get serious about bidding on properties to create affordable housing and also parks that make the housing livable and contribute to clean air."
Dianne Martinez: "In June of 2018, I worked with the community and with my colleagues on Council to pass a $50M affordable housing bond. I look forward to prioritizing projects and programs that will protect residents from displacement, provide supportive housing and services, and create home ownership opportunities. I pledge to support the city’s homelessness strategy, and to continue to on regional solutions, including funding shelter beds, warming centers, and a coordinated entry system so that people in need can have access to their case work wherever they are in the county."
Ken Bukowski: "A_ Restoration of Emeryville Business Advantage – Establish a new chamber of commerce for residents and businesses. Creation of a municipal ballot measure to require voter approval of any future adjustments to wages for Melville Workers. Reduce the minimum wage to $1 less per hour than the highest minimum wage in Oakland or Berkeley. Repeal the Fair Work Week Ordinance. This tool can protect the well being of the community. The labor leaders would have to convince the voters.
B_Displacement – regional growth - Approve prop 10. establish rent control in large apartment complexs, exempt property owners with less than 4 units. Voice opposition to uncontrolled regional growth. They are going overboard creating 5 times more jobs than housing units, and forcing communities to accept uncontrolled growth. At what point do we reach capacity?.
B_ Parking Management- work actively to defeat. We don't need parking meters and we don't need more staff to ticket cars and tow vehicles. Specifically work to correct parking issues in each community. Enforce conditions of approval and require projects to use the parking approved for their projects. This Parking Plan is a bad idea. People who live and work in the city must be spared from the daily headache of moving vehicles to avoid fines as well as guests. While we encourage people to use transit, Emeryville is already a regional example with the Emery go round. For many seniors driving is the only safe way to get where they need to go. The mobility of every individual determines their level of freedom and opportunity. This Parking Plan will take that option away."
Question 4: What three things would you most like to accomplish if you are elected? (300 word limit)
Scott Donahue: "I would like to create more affordable housing. I'd like to reduce our greenhouse gases per capita. I would like our culture and businesses to be inventive- for us to live up to our moniker – City of Art and Innovation."
Dianne Martinez: "First, as I’ve alluded to in my answers above, I’m eager to work with Council and the community to leverage our Measure C affordable housing bond measure funds to create new homes, and help keep vulnerable residents in their homes.
Second, I want to continue my work addressing sustainability on the Emeryville Center of Community Life campus and beyond. The children of this City deserve to be empowered to make changes here in Emeryville that have real consequences. My position as a Director at StopWaste (Alameda County’s waste management authority), informs this work. I also serve as the Emeryville’s representative to East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), the county’s new procurer for electricity. EBCE’s mission is to provide cheaper, greener energy while investing in local jobs.
Third, I’d like to brand Emeryville as the best city for smart growth in the cannabis sector. We recently lifted our ban on cannabis, and have awarded operating permits to two dispensaries. We’ve also welcomed businesses in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. With an attractive tax scheme, and a city staff and Council who are committed to bringing in reputable businesses, I am eager to bring in more businesses, including much-needed testing facilities."
Ken Bukowski: *Please note that Ken's answer greatly exceeds the word limit. I asked Ken to shorten the answer but he stated that he was unable to do so. I have opted to print the full answer in the interest of the public*
"ORGANIZING THE COMMUNITY . As stated above reestablish the chamber of commerce. Bring residents and business people together Restore a voice for the business community. As part of economic development we can explore options of using collective resources to achieve cost reductions on utilities , insurance, good and services.. .A financial incentive creates the will for participation. Community members can voluntarily inform the community of individual skills and opportunities they are seeking. Businesses can look at the profiles and improve the ability for local hire. The city can create a tax credit and recognition of those businesses who have hired the most Emeryville employees. The network can be used ,when local residents have something to sell, or give away when someone needs to hire a local skilled professional. To achieve discounts on goods & services inside and outside the community to provide a small percentage of cost saving to be donated to the school put people in the community together with similar interests. If we know each other better we can have a safer environment. We can create a local news broadcast. The city could allow local businesses and local professional to advertise on the city's existing cable network station. I worked for 25 years for this goal and was sabotaged by the city manager. It' can be compared to when a union wants to organize employees of a business. It's automatically a threat. Other council members want to support the manager and not allow another council member become more popular. Every effort to organize was stopped. Standing up for the community, with an independent voice, against a former city manager, and labor leaders cost me the loss of my business, and unwarranted public embarrassment when the former city attorney issued a press release that I was under investigation by his office for a conflict of interest. Which was NOT true...Emeryville can be very special if we can organize the community in a way which has not been done before. The main point is we are going down the wrong path. We can work together. If we dob;t respect the business interests we can't pay the bills.
Creation of Retail Condominiums- This is a concept to foster locally serving merchants. The city can buy commercial property and affordable retail condominiums. By substantially reducing the cost of the units a small merchant can be successful. The city investment can yield new taxes, allow the merchant to pay higher wages, and offer the sale of goods and services for less. This unique opportunity create the opportunity for the city to encourage small businesses. The city could place a deed restriction not to allow the unit to be used as collateral for debt. If a merchant dies not succeed the unencumbered unit could be available to another merchant..
Question 5: What is you favorite thing about living in Emeryville? (150 words)
Scott Donahue: "This is a personal question. The reason I came to the city was I knew that I could make sculptures without having to heat the studio and that I could get even, north light. This is still my favorite thing, but a close second is that we are a small town in a big metro area."
Dianne Martinez: "My favorite thing about living in Emeryville is that we are an urban city that feels like a small town. I love knowing my neighbors, and feel a great deal of pride about the progressive values that we share. Emeryville voters have chosen time and time again to support important and impactful initiatives like living wages for hotel workers, affordable housing, and to support local transit."
Ken Bukowski: "being able to make a difference. the ability to accomplish more as an individual, and being proud of what has been accomplished."
Question 6: Open Mic: Tell the readers anything else you want them to know about you or your candidacy. (200 words)
Scott Donahue: *Did not provide answer to this question*
Dianne Martinez: "I am a television and new media producer by trade, and have created content for MTV, Discovery Channel, Comedy Central, PBS, PlayStation Network and more. When I’m not at City Hall, you can find me volunteering at ECCL (where my children are students at Anna Yates K-8), or with my family enjoying Emeryville’s parks and businesses."
Ken Bukowski: "I am an independent person. I don't actively support either democrats or republicans/ I don't trust either party. I have resisted threats from special interests. I have withstood and endured actions taken against me and my former businesses at great personal expense. I am a person who is positive and takes pride in helping others. I don't dwell on problems and I don't give up trying to advance good ideas.. I spend almost all my time in the public interest. I video record public meetings and events and the make information available to the public. As an independent person I have never been endorsed by the democratic party or labor unions. I will always out the needs of the community ahead of everything else. I am a senior citizen. I have done my best to explain some problems which I believe threatens the well being of the city. This election is not about me. Its about protecting the community's best interest. I need your support to turn this around. I am planning to create a video about Emeryville about my campaign and the history of my involvement with the city and the region. It will provide information not available from any other source. it will be posted on October"
Voting is important and there are a number of significant races and ballot measures that require your evaluation. Please remember to vote now by mail or in person on November 6th. Thanks for taking the time to become educated about your Emeryville City Council candidates.