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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

City of EmeryvilleCandidate for City Council

Photo of Ken Bukowski

Ken Bukowski

Retired Businessman/Videographer
647 votes (10.06%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Organize Residents and Business People- Improve School District - Actively Create a Meaningful City Charter
  • Re-Establish Business Friendly Climate to Necessary to Maintain Funds for Vital Public Safety & and Other City Services
  • Create Stable Residential Community with Local Rent Control (exempt less than 4 units)l-- Defeat Proposed Parking Management Plan



Profession:Former Mayor/Councilmember (24 yrs),, Businessman
Mayor/City Council /member, CITY OF EMERYVILLE — Elected position (1987–2011)



Community Activities



There are a number of shared documents about various past Emeryville and some Regional Issues  available in my Google Drive folder Ken Bukowski Google Drive Shared Folder

I was raised in Brooklyn, NY. i discovered I was a gay man. It was not something that could be shared with others. Feeling somewhat excluded I developed a philosophy of trying to be useful to others as another form of acceptance. The ability to help others became a passion which still exists today. When I was elected to the council my thoughts were expanded to think of every possible way to the community could benefit from city government. Before I was elected I created the Emeryville chamber of commerce for the purpose of bringing residents and business people together. When I was elected the council hired a new city manager. Not knowing much about politics I was disheartened when I discovered our city manager took full control of the city development process. He was real smooth about it. Until that discovery I thought things were going great. He would make deals with developers to get their projects through the approval process without alteration and with instructions not to speak to council members or the community. If the planning commission asked for something different .He would look into it but the changes would not be accepted. The council could overrule the commission if necessary. When I publicly announced my discovery, it was denied. That's when things changed. Some members of the Council liked the idea of having one person totally in charge. All of a sudden I was a problem. On the surface everything in town looked fine. The community had no idea they were shut out. Many people were happy for all the changes being made with redevelopment. As a council member your job is to represent the will of the people. Despite my inner feelings I could not vote against any project over spite. At the same time the city manager was presented with proposals for development which were not shared with the council. There is no developer who is going to build a project if the staff is opposed. Every project came to the council on a take it or leave it basis It was a very difficult situation. Without going into details. lost my restaurant and bar business. I don't like to dwell on problems. In many communities many of the economic benefits are absorbed by staff and some elected officials. Some community members felt shut out but they blamed the developers when it was not their fault. I have learned over many years what it would take for the Emeryville community to come together and enjoy the benefit of being organized. Look at the benefits provided by labor unions. They look out for the interests of its members, but in the case of the city someone has to stand up for the city's interests.

THE CITY'S UNFUNDED PEMSION LIABILITES. If you look at all of California you will find the public employee unions have had such a major impact on the state legislators that every city and county will eventually go bankrupt. City and County elected officials have agreed to pay wages and benefits far in excess of the available funds. When an employee is hired by a government agency they receive retirement benefits during the term of employment. The money is deposited into the Public Employee Retirement System PERS. They are supposed to invest those funds and get sufficient return on investments to pay the retirement benefits. Retired employees have a “Defined Benefit Plan” This means they are guaranteed to receive those benefits. They retire with almost full pay and medical benefits. However, under State Law if PERS does not have enough funds to pay the benefits the former government agency employer s responsible.

In the private sector when an employee is no longer on the job that should be the end of any financial responsibility of the employer. The city has no control over investments made by PERS but is forced to be financially responsible when they don't have enough money. It has already reached the point where the city is paying retirement benefits for existing employees and portion of the benefits for former employees.

Each year PERS will dictate the amount of money to be paid to PERS. It is based on a formula which takes into consideration the amount of their available funds, the value of the city's assets, and the current amount due for existing employees. Since the retirees also receive medical benefits those costs are skyrocketing. The amount paid for these unfunded liabilities will be an ever growing part of every city budget. With a defined benefit plan the retirees pay no attention to the investments made by the PERS Board. This is an outrageous situation. The law also says paying retiree benefits is the first obligation and if that cannot be met the city assets must be sold to pay them.

If this is the first time you have learned about this. I'm sorry for the bad news. The point I'm trying yo make the best interests of the unions is not the best interests of the city. The council has made it more expensive to have a business in the city. They pay all the taxes. The city's best interests are served by partnering with businesses. They have resources to protect our community, and if we drive them away we can't support those vital services. I support a high minimum wage, but not the highest in the U.S. We are being used as an example at the expense of the best interests of the community.

The businesses provide the money to keep our city much safer than surrounding areas. I have been through more than most and I still care, and no matter what special interests, or forces I have to disagree with. I will continue to work for the best interests of the city and the public.. 


Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am not a Democrat or Republican. I don't trust either party nor do I trust ther News Media. I was elevted to the City Council with the idea of maximizing the benefit every business and resident could achieve. in 1986 I created the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce for that purpose. I didn't really understand politics when I was elected. I quickly discovered in our form of Government the City Manager has all the power. The City Council hires this employee to run the City. The Council gave the manager all he needed, and the best needs of the community became a lower priority. Most Emeryville residents don't know what's going on and the real benefits we coulf enjoy. by working togetherThere are so many benefits we could enjoy if we can work togethere. The former city manager took away the community influence on development, and seizerd control of the chamber. I objected to this control. Every attempt to organize the community failed.I actively attend regional meetings, and vide record them for accountabilty. I am a dedicated public servant who spends modt of my time working in the public interest.Please help me protect your best interests. that is what this campaign is about.

Position Papers



Urge voter support for Proposition 10 - Restoration of Local Government Authority to Impose Rent Control



by; (510) 808-5555

Building massive Amounts of New Housing is NOT a solution for displacement. Adoption of Rent Control is the only way to stop out-of-control rent increases. The poor and middle income residents are being forced out of their homes. It's a human tragedy. A NO vote is telling the poor and middle class residents we prefer upper income residents and workers in California..

Displacement is a substantial disruption of peoples lives. It inflicts emotional distress, financial ruin, and separation of families. It discourages community involvement. It is impacting innocent people who did not create the problem.

Displacement is caused when the demand for housing is greater than the supply. With full knowledge of the limited housing supply our elected & appointed leaders continue to encourage more large businesses and job creation. Is it irrational to approve FIVE TIMES more jobs than housing units. It means new housing is not a solution for displacement. It is a license for more growth. The decision makers are not personally impacted, The only way to stop displacement is the adoption of local rent control.

Are we considering how so many new voters is changing the political landscape in established communities. Entire cultures are being wiped out. Everything is more crowded and more expensive.


At what point will we reach our capacity? How many more people and jobs can we absorb? . Perhaps the adopted regional and local plans should limit growth?. What is the benefit of attracting so many new people and jobs? We are being conquered by outside forces. They are taking control and driving out the poor and middle income residents.


Misleading ads against Prop 10 are everywhere. They say approval of Prop 10 will make a bad situation worse. For who..? What can be worse than displacement.? Who will be harmed if we stop attracting new jobs? If we had compassion the first step should be to limit the harmful human and visible impacts to our communities. ? We should not vote to (re)elect people to public office who fail to recognize we just don't have room for everyone.

Can you imagine if this measure fails.? The public will be saying it's just too bad if you are a renter. You don't deserve any right to be here.

This is a Gold Rush for real estate investors. Landlords are aggressively raising rents and evicting tenants in record numbers. to cash in. Gold Rush Mania is upon us. ..


This chart from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is a graphic illustration of what is happening. . It is showing how many new jobs and housing units were created in each of the NINE San Francisco Bay Area counties between 2010-2016. this trend continues.

Chart from Association of Bay Area Governments

Approval of this measure does not impose rent control. It restores the power to local government to adopt rent control measures specific to each community. The removal of State control is essential to bring stability to the runaway cost of housing.


Displacement is immoral. It creates homeless people. It increases the cost and risk of public safety. It promotes the use of illegal drugs..It increases the frequency of hospital visits and thereby increases the cost for medical insurance. It creates pan-handlers who block public access to stores and drive away tourists. It fosters shop lifting, vehicle break-ins. It creates a loss of self-respect and destroys the will of those affected to be productive citizens.





John Bauters questions

Question 1: Please tell us why you chose to run for council. (200 word limit)

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 TWO Top challenges facing the city


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 word limit)


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.


C_ City Charter . bring the community to create a real charter. See number 4

Businesses would welcome the concept of working with residents. However politics got in the way. In Emeryville the power of city government is vested with the city manager. He/She controls the staff, including the police department. Individual council members have no power. They cannot tell any city employee to do anything. 3 members of the council can instruct the city manager to carry out specific tasks. It is not the job of the city manager to interact directly with residents. It usurps the role of the council member. If this is allowed to happen it puts the manager in a position to become political, potentially seeking community support for things the council may not agree with. Past city managers have advised community members who to vote for and have instructed businesses who to contribute money to in city elections. It is up to council members to represent the needs of the community. This is a very important distinction which should be respecter have a great opportunity with a new city charter to establish new rules for the way the city operates. It would be foolish to risk the loss of collecting the real estate transfer tax by not including the basic elements a charter needs to withstand any future challenge to its validity.


Question 4: What three things would you most like to accomplish if you are elected? (300 word limit)

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 word limit)

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 word limit)

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 20, 2018 at

Candidate Contact Info

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