John Bauters is a progressive leader serving on the Emeryville Council since 2016. John brings a combination of professional and lived experience in addressing many of the issues facing residents in the East Bay to his role as a council member.
John has been fighting the structural and societal causes of poverty for over 15 years. A former disaster relief director and tenant attorney, he currently works as a public policy expert on the issues of homelessness, criminal justice reform, and community-based mental health services.
As a legal aid attorney, John represented over 2,500 people and families experiencing homelessness, facing eviction, or living with a disability in a wide array of legal matters. During his time in practice, John fought the institutional and corporate structures that perpetuate poverty, entrench racism, and deprive vulnerable community members of justice. He mentored or supervised dozens of young and aspiring civil rights attorneys looking to make their communities more just and equitable throughout his tenure as a defense litigator.
In his work as a criminal justice reform and housing policy expert, John has helped craft and pass over two dozen pieces of state legislation here in California that have diverted state funding from the prison industry complex by reinvesting those funds into education, mental health and substance use disorder programs, and trauma-informed services. John has twice been selected by the Board of State and Community Corrections to serve on Executive Steering Committees that reinvest state resources into community-based safety solutions.
Since being elected to the Emeryville City Council, John has been a bold, progressive voice on a number of issues in the region. Under his leadership, the city council has terminated contracts with subcontractors receiving data-sharing grants from ICE and become a sanctuary city. When the Emery Unified School Board proposed putting police in Emeryville’s schools, John leveraged his experience in restorative justice and alternatives to police to help defeat the proposal.
John’s leadership on housing is evident. In 2018, as the city’s mayor, John championed Measure C, a $50 million affordable housing bond that will leverage additional regional, state and federal dollars to build hundreds of new affordable housing units for very low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, artists, and people experiencing homelessness here in Emeryville. Since Measure C’s approval, two new 100% affordable projects are already in the design review process.
On homelessness, John partnered with leaders in Oakland to help deliver services and transitional housing assistance to a large encampment behind the Home Depot while simultaneously converting Emeryville’s old Rec Center into a family shelter for homeless families with children. John has always worked to deliver regional solutions built on the notion that community transformation happens when leadership uses people-centered decision-making and is solutions-oriented. Much of his work on the issue comes from his own personal experience with housing insecurity as an LGBTQ youth and many years of outreach work with people experiencing homelessness.
As Emeryville’s only openly-LGBTQ councilmember, John has been a leader in the East Bay on civil rights, and made Emeryville a beacon for those seeking an inclusive community to call home. John introduced “Emeryville Community Celebrations” during his tenure as mayor, recognizing local leaders and heroes that make our city a diverse and inclusive community.
John has also helped make Emeryville a regional leader on transit equity. As vice chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, John has used his position of leadership to prioritize the principles of Vision Zero, working to make streets safe for all users. Locally, he has pushed for additional protected bike lanes and pedestrian enhancements, while prioritizing the introduction of transit-only lanes AC Transit and Emery-Go-Round routes to make those services more efficient for riders.
The Alameda County Mayors Conference selected John to represent Alameda County’s cities at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. There, John chairs the Stationary Source Committee, which works to regulate large industrial polluters and reduce toxic emissions. Calling environmental justice a form of racial justice, John championed the creation of the District’s first-ever Committee on Equity, Access and Inclusion, which reviews District policies and proposals through the lens of the communities most-impacted by pollution.
John received his Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor in law from Boston College Law School. He volunteers at the Emeryville Citizen’s Assistance Program (ECAP) and is a member of the Temescal Creek Community Organic Garden, both here in Emeryville. It’s not uncommon to find him out for a walk with his dog, Reyna, or on a bike ride along the Bay Trail.