The community has long suggested that Susannah Meyer should be on the city council.
Now it’s a reality.
The 12-year city resident and state senate senior district representative secured the District 3 seat in a three-person race in November’s election.
“A lot of people over the years have said, ‘You should be on council,’” Meyer said. “I was like, ‘I don’t think it is my thing.’ But it comes up in conversation, and you really start to think, especially during a crisis. When something that impactful and life-altering comes your way, it makes you think, on a really grand level, ‘What am I doing? How can I be involved? What can I do to make my community and the lives of the people around me better?’”
Meyer’s new role is a natural extension of her passion to serve.
The mother of two adult sons has been a senior district representative for California State Senator Steve Glazer (D - Contra Costa) since 2019. She previously held multiple autism support roles and positions with Meals On Wheels Diablo Region and the Volunteer Center of the East Bay.
The pandemic, she said, only amplified her desire to give back.
“In thinking about it after COVID hit, it was all about what can I do for Brentwood? What do I see as missing on council now that I can be a part of filling in some puzzle pieces?” Meyer said.
Despite her doubts about securing the district seat, she entered her name in the race against business owner Indrani Golden and businesswoman and realtor Olga Vidriales.Then Meyer began opening up for any public questions or interview requests.
That accessible campaign approach, she feels, paid off when she secured the win with 44.31% of the vote.
“The women I was running against were really strong women and strong community members, highly respected for the work they were doing and the groups they were involved in,” Meyer said. “Two really good community leaders. I did not go into this thinking I was a shoo-in by any means. I was concerned about both of them. They were both strong candidates.”
Now a councilmember, Meyer has wasted no time trying to make an impact.
In just her first few meetings, she has requested future agenda items that increase meeting accessibility, transparency, small-business support and adaptive programing for older adults with special needs.
Those initial desires align with Meyer’s background as an advocate for equity, accessibility and the value of people’s voice. But she also intends to delve into other matters, such as smart growth, COVID-19 recovery and general economic development.
As with any job, she admits that some topics, such as growth and state-mandated affordable housing requirements, will be more challenging than others.
“Residents, I believe, understand we are state-mandated to reach a certain number of affordable housing numbers,” she said. “Sometimes the challenge is to work within the state mandate but to do it in a way that keeps the charm and the tradition, legacy and agriculture and open space of our city.
“Regardless of where you sit in that discussion, whether you feel like we need growth or we need to be more cautious, that is still a discussion that will be challenging – a discussion where the residents will be reaching out to us and saying, ‘This is not OK. We need to rethink this.’ And in some ways we are going to be able to say, ‘Yes, you are absolutely right, and we will listen and take everything into consideration.’ But in other ways, some of these state mandates mean we are not going to make the answer black and white.”
District 3 resident Wayne Francis, who knew Meyer before she became a councilmember, showered her with praise.
He said she exhibits dedication, leadership, accessibility, compassion and wonderful listening skills.
“She is a genuinely compassionate person,” he said. “That concern shows. I feel as a resident of District 3, we are taken care of because this is someone who cares.”
Fellow resident Julia Carroll added that Meyer goes above and beyond to serve the community, noting that she recently scheduled Zoom meetings with Carroll’s children after learning they had an interest in government.
“She scheduled two different Zoom meetings for an hour, just teaching how the city government operates, so that was really good,” Carroll said.
For her part, Meyer said engaging with residents is one of the best and most important parts of the job.
“I’ve always strived in everything I’ve done – whether career-wise or personally – to help people have a voice,” Meyer said. “That empowers me. It feels great.”