About Vinnie Bacon: the Clean Money Candidate
Cleaning Up the Environment
I didn’t start my career as a political animal, but I did start it with animals. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, I worked as an environmental engineer, researching the effects of pollution on habitats and water quality in rivers going through Milwaukee to Lake Michigan. My job was identifying what it would take to clean up the waterway and at what cost. In this way, I was always the clean money guy.
I moved to the Bay Area and pursued masters degrees in city planning and transportation engineering from UC Berkeley, and I’ve made Alameda County my home for over three decades.
Cleaning Up Our Streets
After completing my graduate work at UC Berkeley, I worked for four years as a transportation planner preparing environmental impact reports, traffic impact studies and transportation demand modeling studies. It was a safety-first profession, and I learned a lot of important lessons about how local government operates.
As a planner, I worked on a number of projects here in Fremont, Dublin and Pleasanton. Knowing what good planning is, I was surprised at the piecemeal development I saw being approved in Dublin and Fremont. I failed to see a coherent vision being implemented.
Cleaning Up Fremont
I moved to Fremont to start a family. While focused on raising my son, I worked with the Parent Teachers’ Association at his public school and served on the Glenmoor Homeowner’s Association. I later became active with the local Sierra Club chapter, taking on various leadership positions for over a decade.
Resisting Sprawl and Traffic
In 2005, I got involved with anti-sprawl activism. As the City Council considered a massive new tract at the Patterson Ranch, I found that most Fremont residents shared my view that the Patterson Ranch area should not be heavily developed. On the other hand, I found out that our entire City Council didn’t agree with the majority of its constituents on this issue. Like many projects of its kind, I thought it would create a traffic nightmare, guide our region away from our climate goals, and was more suburban sprawl that we didn’t need.
I also worked hard with the Friends of Coyote Hills for years to limit development next to Coyote Hills Regional Park. Ultimately, the City Council voted 5-0 in October 2010 to amend the General Plan and allow for nearly 600 sprawling homes to be built, an increase of about 400 from what had been previously allowed. Read more about Patterson Ranch here.
In 2009 I was appointed to the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board where I served for three years. I was also involved with the Citizens for Neighborhood Integrity. We opposed the spending of public money on the Route 84 realignment project. This project proposes to build an unneeded roadway at a cost of over $200 million, money better spent on maintaining existing roadways and safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In 2010, I got involved with the Save Niles Canyon group. This group led the opposition against Caltrans’ proposed widening of Route 84 within Niles Canyon. I’ve met with local residents many times, and attended meetings with Caltrans on this subject as a representative of the Sierra Club. Read more about the Niles Canyon widening issue here.
In 2011, I spoke on behalf of open space for all with the Save Kimber Park group. We gathered signatures for their Open Space Initiative, and stood with them against the proposed rezoning of the open space in the middle of their neighborhood. Read more about Kimber Park here.
These years of advocacy ultimately propelled me to a successful run for Fremont City Council in 2012.
Cleaning up City Hall
When I was first elected in 2012, I was the only candidate on the Fremont City Council that was not accepting developer money, and I was often out-voted 4 to 1 on projects. This wasn’t accomplishing the goal of ending irresponsible development and I knew I needed more clean money candidates on council.
In 2014, then-School Board Trustee Lily Mei ran for city council, also refusing to take developer money and she was elected. Now there were two of us, but we were still being out-voted 3 to 2 on most projects. Lily became Mayor and I won my re-election in 2016, but we still found ourselves on the losing side of projects.
By 2018, it had become nearly impossible to win in Fremont if you had taken developer money, and it was our first election with district voting and our council increased from five members to seven. I knew that with my last term coming to an end, we had to achieve a clean money majority if we were going to change the development trajectory of our city. The voters of Fremont agreed and in 2018, a majority of our council members are developer-free and the four of us make up the entire political spectrum from right to left. Now, in 2020, I have not talked to a single candidate for council that will accept developer money.
During my time on Fremont City Council, I have been proud to bring forward referrals on many of our most pressing issues: Tenant Protections, Increasing the Minimum Wage, Sanctuary City, and helping our community groups that plan our many festivals and parades get public service costs paid for by the city.
- Member, Policy Advisory Committee, AC Transit / City of Fremont (2012 – 2016)
- Member, Liaison Committee, East Bay Regional Park District (EBPRD) / City of Fremont (2012 – present)
- Chair, Southern Alameda County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Authority (2012 – present)
- Delegate, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) (2014 – 2018)
- Member, Housing Authority of the County of Alameda (HACA) (2015 – 2017)
- Member, San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (2014 – present)
- Member, Stop Waste (2016 – 2018)
- Member, East Bay Clean Energy Authority (2016 – present)