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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of EmeryvilleCandidate for City Council

Photo of John Van Geffen

John Van Geffen

1,247 votes (12.23%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Increase renter protections.
  • Advocate and promote small business.
  • Community development.



Attorney, Michael L. Dworkin and Associates (2007–current)


Santa Clara School of Law Juris Doctorate (2006)
Pennsylvania State University BA, Advertising/Marketing/PR (2003)

Community Activities

Trustee - Board of Directors, Oakland Aviation Museum (2011–current)
Western Pacific Vice President, International Air & Transportation Safety Bar Association (2010–current)


I graduated from the Santa Clara School of Law and have been handling regulatory compliance matters, negotiating business transactions and litigating in the Bay Area since 2006. I’m familiar with how laws, ordinances and regulations intertwine to create a societal framework.

In addition to my legal practice, in 2009 I started and ran a small business specializing in helping Oakland and San Francisco companies save money by hiring locally and taking advantage of Enterprise Zone tax credits. Unfortunately, I learned how easily Government can stifle small business with over regulation when Gov. Brown gutted the tax credit program and I had to close shop in 2013.

On top of my business and legal background, I also volunteer with several non-profit organizations, including legal industry groups and the Oakland Aviation Museum where I have been a trustee on the Board of Directors since 2011 handling the museum’s legal issues as they arise.

All of my experiences helping companies comply with regulations, litigating breach of contract actions for clients, and starting my own business has turned me into a committed problem solver.

Today, my newly found roles as father and homeowner simply refocused me and the types of problems I want to solve. I want to focus my energy on building my community and making it the best it can be for raising a family.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Ruby's Cafe
  • Scarlet City Roasting Company
  • Best Coast Burritos

Organizations (1)

  • Watergate Market

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters—Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville (4)

If you are elected, what would you like to achieve during your term in office?
Answer from John Van Geffen:
  1. Put Renter Protections in place
  2. Advocate and promote Small Business
  3. Community development
  4. Public Safety
  5. Enhancing the Emery School District

My goal and my promise to voters is to advocate for creating a sense of community that is unique and specific to Emeryville. First I will put Renter Protections in place to slow the loss of long time residents. While this should have already been done long ago, we can act quickly by using the Berkeley and Oakland ordinances as templates.

Our local businesses have gone long enough without a voice on the city council. If the council doesn’t act soon to protect small business, it will be too late; Emeryville’s privately owned businesses will leave and Emeryville will just be box retail stores. I will reopen the discussion on Emeryville taking a regional approach to business regulation–e.g., MWO and FWW.

Emeryville has dozens of projects currently underway or undergoing permitting. Community development is not something to “solve”, rather it is our strategy for building an Emeryville residents love. I will advocate for homeownership, bicycle paths, public parks, and low-density construction.

As for safety and our city’s schools, we need to give Police Chief Tejada time to implement her new community policing initiative before the city council starts to interfere. The same goes for the brand new ECCL. We should give the Emery School Board an opportunity to work through the initial growing pains of opening a new school before putting too many “cooks in the kitchen”.

Question 2

What do you consider the most important issue facing the city?

No answer provided.
Question 3

How do you plan to balance the regional Planned Bay Area (ABAG/MTC) goals of Priority Development Areas (PDAs) with local needs of property owners, traffic/parking/congestion problems, and other local concerns?

No answer provided.
Question 4

Considering the disintegration of local infrastructure, how can the city upgrade to meet the current regulatory requirements for clean air, and for clean water discharge into the Bay?

No answer provided.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My Emeryville City Council candidate statement: Dear neighbors:


Emeryville is where my wife and I bought our first house. It’s where our daughter was born, will go to school, and it’ll always be the place she thinks of when she says, “I’m going home.”


I want more than just your vote; I want your help. I’m not a career politician. My campaign for City Council is grounded in the principle that holding office is about public service above all else. I’m running because I want to ensure that Emeryville prioritizes community before succumbing to economic pressures.


Moreover, as a brand new father and practicing attorney, I promise to read every single proposal, study, survey and action item that comes before the council (since I’m not going to be sleeping anyway).


About me: I want to make commuting greener and safer with expanded bike lanes, new park space and walking paths and slowed traffic patterns along our children's school routes. Additionally, I want the city to better address renters’ rights, affordable housing and homelessness.


I don’t just want your vote; I want your ideas! Email your concerns to and if elected, I promise to work with you to see them answered.


Thank you.

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