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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

City of AlbanyCandidate for City Council

Photo of Preston Jordan

Preston Jordan

Engineering Geologist
4,009 votes (30.79%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Save our lives by requiring seismic retrofit of multifamily buildings with soft stories, as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley have done. This also reduces the risk of uncontrolled post-earthquake fires.
  • Implement leading climate protection policies, such as changing Albany's utility user taxes to reflect greenhouse pollution in order to provide more economic incentive to reduce this pollution.
  • Improve Albany's economic equity by boosting the percent of very low-income households utilizing the tax reductions already approved by the voters from below 10% to over 50%, and ask voters to add these provisions to other existing taxes.



Profession:Engineering geologist
Principle Scientific Engineering Associate (after five promotions), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1990–current)
Member, Albany Charter Review Committee — Appointed position (2008–current)
Member, Alameda County Transportation Commission Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee — Appointed position (2008–2018)
Member, Albany Waterfront Committee — Appointed position (2005–2007)
Member, Albany Traffic and Safety Commission — Appointed position (1994–1995)
Field geologist, Consulting to the United States Department of Justiced (1989–1990)
Staff geologist, Harlan Tait Associates (1988–1989)
Field geologist (after one promotion), Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley (1987–1988)


University of California, Berkeley Master of Science in Engineering Science (M.S. in Eng. Sci.), Geotechnical engineering (1997)
University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Geology (1987)

Community Activities

Co-founder, Carbon Neutral Albany (2008–current)
Co-founder, Albany Strollers & Rollers (2004–current)
Action Director and Board member, League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville (2016–2018)
Member, Alameda-Contra Costa County Committee, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council (1990–1994)


Preston married Michelle in 1989, shortly out of college. People said they were young to do so, but they were in love and have been ever since, although not without some of the usual ups and downs.

They moved to Albany in 1994, renting an apartment for two years. After having a great landlord in Oakland, the landlord in Albany was terrible. In part as a result, in 1996 Michelle decided it was time to buy a home, which they did all credit to her.

In 1998 Michelle gave birth to Keller. Two years later she gave birth to Sabina. From the start of their relationship, Preston and Michelle expressed their hope to be able to parent equally. Through effort and good fortune, they both secured part-time work with sufficient pay so they could spend equal time with Keller and Sabina.

Keller and Sabina both attended Albany’s public schools. A next-door parent from Preston’s childhood was surprised he and Michelle did not opt for homeschooling. However, they both value social and emotional learning alongside academics. Unfortunately, the Albany schools were not a terribly good fit for either in hindsight. This is in part because it is a small school district, so it can’t offer much variety in terms of tracks.

Keller is starting his junior year at UC San Diego in computer science and applied math with an emphasis on machine learning. He is transferring after two years at UC Santa Cruz and an internship at DropBox in San Francisco this summer.

Sabina just started the car mechanics program at Contra Costa College, a wonderful institution I recommend checking out and supporting. As with many young adults raised in Albany, Sabina does not drive. Preston jokes she is ahead of the curve because in thirty years no one may be driving due to autonomous vehicle technology, but our society will still need car mechanics!

Michelle was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) months after giving birth to Sabina. Postpartum is a common time for the symptoms of MS to manifest in women. She was able to work as a financial analyst at Kaiser through 2009 before becoming too disabled to continue.

As goes with MS, her disability has continued to increase. She now requires care when Preston is working. She has the superpower of seeing the glass as 1/32nd full, as Preston has come to put it. Somedays the cup is a bit less full, but not often. As occurs when a family member is progressively more disabled, there are difficult transitions that need to occur, whether they are wanted or not. Despite all this, Michelle is all in for Preston joining the Albany City Council.

Regarding work, Preston started at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as a research technician in 1990. Based on his prior engineering geology consulting experience, he took the lead on day-to-day operations logging soils in trenches across the Hayward Fault to determine the dates of prehistoric earthquakes.

He has since been promoted five times to his current position due to the excellence of his work. His last promotion took him out of the union, but his previous positions were covered by UPTE (the Union of Professional and Technical Employees). He was skeptical when the union first organized in the 1990s, but quickly came to learn its immense value in balancing the power dynamic. He subsequently volunteered teaching others how to successfully seek promotion.

LBNL has awarded Preston for community relations due to his ability to understandably communicate about the geology of the lab and later again for societal impact due to his work on the Aliso Canyon gas storage well blowout. This blowout released the most methane of any leak in U.S. history. He developed part of the methodology used by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) for the official estimate of the methane leaked.

He is a lead author of independent scientific studies of hydraulic fracturing and underground gas storage in California ordered by the State legislature, both of which changed the policy conversation around these uses of our subsurface.

As a result of his research on geologic carbon sequestration, the injection pressures of one of the largest such projects in the world were reduced. He subsequently was one of three researchers at LBNL retained by ARB to provide recommendations regarding California’s permanence protocol for geologic carbon sequestration. Many of his recommendations have been adopted into the draft standard adopted by ARB in late September. He is currently leading a legislatively mandated panel reviewing regulations and regulatory implementation regarding injection wells associated with oil production and leading LBNL’s efforts regarding geologic carbon sequestration in California.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Albany Democratic Club
  • The East Bay Times
  • Nick Pilch, current Councilmember elected with the most votes in Albany's history

Organizations (1)

  • Albany Greens

Elected Officials (11)

  • Gabe Quinto, El Cerrito City Councilmember
  • Scott Donahue, Emeryville City Councilmember
  • Dianne Martinez, Emeryville City Councilmember
  • Robert Raburn, BART Board Director
  • Pete Maass, current Councilmember elected with the second most votes in Albany's history
  • Kim Trutane, current School Board member
  • Rebecca Saltzman, BART Director for Albany east of San Pablo Avenue
  • Charlie Blanchard, current School Board member
  • Jacob Clark, current School Board member
  • Doug Linney, East Bay Municipal Utility District Board member
  • Jim Lindsay, former School Board member and current Charter Review Committee member

Individuals (143)

  • Lynn Eve Komaromi, Arts Committee member (Bridgewater)
  • Francesco Papalia, member of the former Waterfront Committee
  • Dan Lieberman, former Sustainability Committee member
  • Max Wei, Sustainability Committee member
  • Nick Peterson, Sustainability Committee member
  • Tom Cooper, Sustainability Committee member
  • Lisa Schneider, Charter Review Committee member
  • Jennifer Radics-Johnson, Charter Review Committee member
  • Glenn Kirby, former Alameda County Planning Commissioner
  • Jessica Day, founder, Albany Climate Action Coalition
  • Ellen Hershey, co-founder, North Albany Neighborhood Association
  • Ebba de la Rosa, former Ocean View PTA President
  • Eveline Shen, Executive Director and President, Forward Together
  • Sue Douglass, Library Board member
  • Harry Chomsky, Traffic and Safety Commissioner
  • David Arkin, former Planning and Zoning Commissioner
  • Sara Hinkley, School Board candidate and Ocean View PTA Board member
  • Tod Abbott, Parks and Recreation Commissioner and Albany Chamber of Commerce Board member
  • Julia Chang Frank, Parks and Recreation Commissioner
  • John Miki, former Traffic and Safety Commissioner
  • Susan Reeves, Traffic and Safety Commissioner
  • Ken McCroskey, Traffic and Safety Commisioner
  • Britt Tanner, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner
  • Geoff Piller, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner
  • Charlie Prins, former Charter Review Committee member, local business owner
  • Gabriel Baty, Charter Review Committee member
  • Jerri Holan, former Charter Review and Waterfront Committee member
  • Amy St. George, former Arts Committee member
  • Robert del Rosario, Traffic and Safety Commissioner
  • David Madson
  • Andy Lincoff, former Traffic and Safety Commissioner and Waterfront Committee member
  • Lucinda Young
  • Sandy Yip
  • Ken Wong
  • David Wemmer
  • Pat Boonyalak Viboonlarp, Albany resident and co-owner, Tay Tah & Bua Luang
  • Eugene Veklarov (Gateview)
  • Julie Winkelstein
  • Jen Wachter (neighbor)
  • Tom Traynor
  • Margaret Tong
  • Kathy Tomasic
  • Tom Thomas (Gateview)
  • Shelley Tanenbaum
  • Andrew Tang (neighbor)
  • Matt Stark (neighbor)
  • Jodi Stark (neighbor)
  • Amy Smolens, Outreach Coordinator, Albany Strollers & Rollers
  • Jonathan Slack
  • Susan Sheridan
  • Nirmal Sherchan (neighbor)
  • Art Simon
  • Ana Silva
  • Eveline Shen, Executive Director, Forward Together
  • Laura Shear
  • Neocles Serafimidis
  • Merry Selk
  • Vanessa Segovia
  • Em Segmen (Gateview)
  • Joe Schwarz
  • Carol Schumacher, former owner, Sam's Log Cabin
  • Daniel Schact
  • Bill Scaglione
  • Janet Scaglione
  • Jean Safir
  • Michael Saaf
  • Lori Saaf
  • Jim Russell
  • Ron Rosenbaum, former AHS Principal
  • Ebba de la Rosa, former President, Ocean View PTA
  • Paul Rooney
  • Christine Rockwell
  • Chris Roche
  • Sherie Reineman
  • Sanjay Ranchod
  • Wendy Polivka
  • Dan Pock
  • Noël Plummer
  • Sylvia Paull
  • Evan Painter
  • Phil Obbard
  • Karen Nierlich
  • Virginia Nickel-Pock
  • Tenisha Neal
  • Lynn Mundell
  • Tara McHugh
  • Liz McDonough
  • Liz McBee
  • Paula Markham
  • Jim Markham
  • Rick Markell (neighbor)
  • Krista Markell (neighbor)
  • Sara Marcellino
  • Brandon Luce
  • Rebecca Long
  • Eric Leven
  • Beth Leven
  • Tess Lengyel
  • Stephanie Lee
  • Waharte Laurent
  • Bill Lanphier (neighbor)
  • Sudha Lama (neighbor)
  • Gary Kritikos
  • Tim Kneafsey
  • Elizabeth Klein
  • Maurice Kaufman, former Emeryville Public Works Director
  • Henry Kao
  • Gabi Kao
  • Michelle Jordan (wife)
  • Dan Johnson
  • Gloria Jao
  • Kelle Jacobs (neighbor)
  • Paul Ivanov
  • Mehdi Hosseini
  • James Horner
  • Steve Hoagland (Gateview)
  • Leslie Gold
  • Steve Gaeta
  • David Ford (neighbor)
  • Laura Feinstein
  • Lorne Evje
  • John Erickson (Gateview)
  • Leah Demathieu
  • Cliff Colby
  • Mitchelyn Clark
  • Kevin Clark
  • Andrea Clark
  • Guy Cheney
  • Lowell Carp
  • Dorothy Carp
  • Joel Carp
  • Marge Brostrom
  • Gerhard Brostrom
  • Theresa Bittner
  • Peter Ballinger
  • John Baldwin
  • Laura Alie
  • Mila Adler
  • Aj Adler
  • Brigid Kennedy Acuña

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Preston is not big on political philosophy. He and Michelle coined a phrase early in their relationship: “There is no substitute for reality.” All philosophies break down upon an encounter with reality. This is why Michelle and Preston are passionate about science. Humanity had to invent science in order to progress because we are so fallible at discerning fact from myth, writ large and small.

To the extent Preston has a political philosophy, it is informed by the scientific method. First is a policy idea, which is akin to a hypothesis. These variously originate from his imagination or from a conversation. He particularly enjoys the latter, especially when nobody in the conversation can say afterward who was responsible for the idea, but rather it emerged from the interaction of everyone.

Next comes testing the policy idea against reality. This involves researching the literature and, often, data collection and analysis. If these support the policy idea, it advances to the next stage, which is developing it in sufficient detail for implementation and then getting it implemented.

In choosing issues, Preston is careful to prioritize. More can be achieved by selecting a few ideas that have the combination of the greatest probability of implementation and result in the greatest improvement in the quality of life than by working on a large number of policy advances at once, which can seem counterintuitive.

His work changing sidewalk maintenance provides an example of his approach. Taking his kids back and forth to Cornell School starting in 2003, he noticed the sidewalk was in terrible condition at some locations and remained that way for all the years his kids attended. From this, he hypothesized sidewalk conditions in Albany were poor.

To test this, in 2010 he organized and led a group of volunteers to conduct a census of the worst sidewalk condition on each of Albany’s 600 blocks. A hundred volunteer hours later, the data was collected and analyzed. It validated the hypothesis. One could not travel more than two blocks on average without encountering some substantial obstacle, be it severely damaged sidewalk, overgrown vegetation, or a car parked on the sidewalk by someone. If our roads were in such bad condition, motorists would be in an uproar. However, sidewalk users are a calm bunch and so largely just sighed and put up with it.

With these results, Preston moved to advocating for a better approach to sidewalk maintenance. He held that sidewalks should be treated the same as roads, maintained by the city and the city liable rather than putting all this on the adjacent private property owner. Can you imagine if our roads were maintained by the adjacent private property owner? It would be a disaster.

Because Albany had, and has, a property tax to fund road repair Preston decided equity required a property tax for sidewalk repair. He worked from 2010 to 2016 making this case by commenting at numerous meetings. The Council eventually saw the light and funded and managed a pilot repair project using a one-time allotment of its general capital funds in 2016. It went well; so well the staff supported putting a property tax to fund sidewalk repair on the ballot. The Council did so in 2016.

Preston then ran the campaign with Ken McCroskey and funded it almost entirely himself. The measure won with almost 80% support and the most votes for any measure in Albany’s history. The first round of sidewalk repair using the resulting revenue occurred this summer – 40 locations. It went so well staff recommended the Council authorize another 70 locations, which the Council did at its first meeting in September of this year. Those repairs are happening now all over town.

There are numerous other twists and turns to this story. One fundamental though is that in the course of pursuing the issue, Preston also learned that it appears the cost of injuries due to poor sidewalk conditions is larger, much larger, than the cost of fixing them. However different entities in our complex society bear these direct costs. Our City does not pay for the cost of injuries due to poor sidewalks, so had no motivation to do anything as the damage accumulated. Looked at holistically though, it appears much less costly to repair the sidewalks than let them fall apart.

He has talked to transportation researchers at UC Berkeley about testing this hypothesis. They have some ideas, but what really emerged is another way sidewalk users are treated as second class. No institution is charged with uniformly collecting data on injuries on sidewalks. This is in contrast to a massive set of requirements and apparatus for collecting data on motorist collisions and injuries. What we don’t measure is often invisible, and so this lack of data collection also contributes to ignoring the impact of poor sidewalk conditions.

Based on the above approach, Preston has chosen improving the seismic safety of our City by requiring mandatory seismic retrofit of multifamily soft story buildings as his next priority. The need for this approach has already been proven numerous times over. For instance, the Association of Bay Area Governments came out with a new study last spring that projected one out of four residences in Albany will be destroyed in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on the Hayward Fault, a bit more than half of these by the shaking and the rest by the following fires.

The building damage will kill tens of people, severely injure hundreds, endanger Albany’s firefighters and police, cause the quality of life of those not directly impacted to plummet, eliminate a massive quantity of housing, and result in throwing away much of our City in an unsustainable manner. Other cities have solved this problem by adopting a mandatory seismic retrofit requirement. Albany can get this done too if it has sufficient leadership. Preston asks you to put him on the Council so he can provide leadership on this issue as well as serve the City more generally.

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