City Council Candidate Profile: Don Kuehne

Hercules Patch has compiled background information on all candidates running for office in June. Don Kuehne faces a recall challenge.

Hercules Patch has asked each candidate to fill out a questionnaire to give residents information about his or her background. More election coverage.


Full, legal name: 
Donald Leroy Kuehne

Employment:  Chevron Energy Technology Company, Richmond, Senior Research Engineer

Age: 59; born in Illinois

Spouse or domestic partner: Charlotte Kuehne

Children: David, 18; Erinn, 16; and Roberta, 14

Cornell University, bachelor's in chemical engineering, 1973
California Institute of Technology, master's in chemical engineering, 1975
California Institute of Technology, doctorate in chemical engineering, 1979

Military service: None

Have you or a business you owned or had principal interest in ever filed bankruptcy?  No

How long have you lived in Hercules?  20 years

As an adult, have you been convicted or charged with a crime other than a minor traffic violation? No.

Campaign website: TruthAboutHerculesRecall.com



Elected offices:
Hercules City Council – elected 2008

Unsuccessful campaigns for public office:
Hercules City Council, 2004 


What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
I am running to retain my seat on the Hercules City Council. I have a good understanding of the City’s current financial problems and have been working diligently this year to solve them. Most of the problems originated from decisions that were made before I was elected in November 2008. With my leadership experience, I believe that I can play a vital role in our city’s economic recovery. 

What will be your top three priorities if you get elected and why?

  • To balance the City’s budgets.  Both the General Fund and the Redevelopment Agency have large deficits.  Substantial cuts in all areas are necessary to bring expenses in line with revenues.  This is already under way with the termination of many consulting contracts, reduction of City services, and layoff of staff.  The Council should review and implement many of the recommendations in MRG’s comprehensive financial audit.  It is critical that the City avoid bankruptcy and defaulting on its loans.
  • To maintain public safety and other vital community services.  Input from the community is valuable in deciding which programs and services are most important.  I will look for ways to provide these services more cost effectively.
  • To continue pursuing Hercules’ vision plan for sustainable transit-oriented development.     Although many of our development projects have been stopped, I believe that we should continue working on the Intermodal Transit Center and Bayfront projects because they not only benefit Hercules but are also important in regional transportation and housing planning.  Substantial grant funding has already been obtained for construction of the ITC.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

My diverse leadership experience distinguishes me from the other candidates.  My community service includes two years on the City Council, three years as a director of the Hercules Education Foundation, one year as an Education Commissioner, and ten years as a director of the Foxboro Village Homeowners Association.  I have also worked 32 years as a professional engineer in research and development.

In my decision-making, I strive to do what is best for the community.  I am not beholden to special interest groups or looking for personal gain or recognition.  I hold myself to the same high ethical standards I expect of others.

I am a strong advocate of public education.  All of my children have attended Hercules schools and I have supported education ballot measures, elementary music, and many fundraising activities.  I believe in protecting the environment and planning sustainable development for future generations

About how much money do you expect your campaign to spend on this election?  
At this point, I don’t know how much I will spend.  As of April, I reported about $1,900 of expenditures.


Laila Kearney (Editor) May 06, 2011 at 05:30 PM
We realize this is a heated time for Hercules politics. Residents have a lot to say about which city council candidates they support, which ones they don’t and why. That’s great! But please KEEP COMMENTS CONSTRUCTIVE. Candidates have volunteered to provide us with this information. More information is better, so lets encourage it.
Glenn Abraham May 06, 2011 at 07:40 PM
At one time, Don Kuehne was the Great Mustached Hope of Hercules. He was the reformer, the guy who, publicly, worked to hold back some of the more unattractive projects of Balico and Valstad. I strongly supported Kuehne in 2004. I voted for him in 2008. I don't understand what went wrong. "Most of the problems originated from decisions that were made before I was elected in November 2008." Don Kuehne voted to discharge Charlie Long and to reinstate Oliva. That was in December 2010. "Top three priorities": Kuehne's response could be dissected and disposed of for lack of specificity, but why bother? I've seen no proof that Mr. Kuehne was an accomplice in the balicolivamoto schemes, no proof that he profited from those schemes, but his lack of oversight surely abetted those schemes. I don't believe that Don Kuehne, in his Council career, was a criminal; I do believe that he was a failure. That failure, plus the contempt which he expressed for the will of the electorate during the recall campaign, provide more-than-sufficient cause for him to be recalled.
Kim May 07, 2011 at 05:23 AM
I would like to know how you will help support elementary music in our schools now that our city is I'm such dire financial shape.
Susan D.Keeffe May 07, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I find his statement very misleading. Prior to the citizenry outcry regarding the firing of Charlie Long, something Kuehne strongly supported, all of the above-mentioned issues he now wants to correct, he voted "aye" on without dissent, in 2008, 2009, 2010 and into 2011. Reviewing City Council videos and minutes, he can be seen continuing to support the HMU. In fact, I was present where he stated he was certain it could be in the black based on rate increases! As I recall, and it is recorded, I asked him how high the rates would have to go to fill a $3 million hole. Kuehne is on public record strongly supporting Oliva and stating while he had private concerns, he felt he had to present a public show of support. Who can forget his smirk as he tore up the Recall documents! Recall Volunteers reported harassment by Kuehne supporters during the Recall. I would suggest strongly, residents visit www.herculesrecall.com for all the Lochner articles. There they will find all the issues that Kuehne from 2008 on supported via his "aye" vote. Recall!
Marty May 13, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Maybe he started with good intentions, but that didn't keep Hercules from going to hell. Just a bored inept public servant who just happens to work for our neighbor Chevron. Just sayin'.
Jerrold "Jerry" Parsons May 14, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Where was the support for Measure "A"? John Swett Unified School District serves Hercules, but am wondering how many people in Foxboro or Hercules realize we are one of the most precious stakeholders in that community.
Jill Bork May 25, 2011 at 07:10 PM
The fact that Mr. Kuehne doesn't know how much he expects to spend on his campaign says it all!
Susan D.Keeffe May 25, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Kuehne's recent flyer done with Ward is revealing. All he does is blame without taking responsibility. City Managers report to the City Council which has direct over-sight of their performance and actions. They spent a lot of money putting down their employees for whom they (Kuehne and Ward) had direct responsibility. His denial of his "aye" votes and role in our City meltdown is beyond comprehension. He doesn't get that "the buck stops" with the City Council.
Susan D.Keeffe May 25, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Check out the back of his recent Kuehne/Ward flyer! He thinks its a great idea to politicize two city employee positions! Instead of hiring professionals who apply via an appropriate application process for a job involving City Finance and the City Clerk, he thinks anyone can just run for office making it open to elected persons who may have zero expertise but who may have political connections. Haven't we had enough of cronyism in City Hall? We need a finance expert and professional so we can stop wasting money on consultants! He also thinks its great to hire a city Manager who doesn't have the type of expertise that allowed Charlie Long to find Oliva's mess in a week(real estate expertise)! But then, he fired Charlie Long and brought back Oliva then gave Oliva a huge severance package. I don't think Kuehne (and Ward) should be a part of hiring of our next City Manager - they lack the judgment required to make a good decision. Let's take the politics out of City Hall!
Susan D.Keeffe May 25, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Today brought another gift in the mail - another expensive Kuehne flyer. In this one he continues to steal the Recaller and Community suggestions! Does hew think we're stupid? Does he think we have forgotten all the closed Brown Act violation meetings he willingly participated in? He could have said "no"! Remember the Push Poll? Not once in three years did he step up and say they were discussing things in closed session that should be public. Not ONCE did he respond to multiple citizen pleas for transparency regarding subcommittee meetings! Not once!v He repeated his "real Solutions"! Politicize city Hall further by changing professionals to politicians with possibly zero expertise! He copies a Dan Romero and other citizen's suggestion of a "whistle Blowing Mechanism"! This idea DID NOT come from Kuehne! He copied it! Check out the Patch Blogs and listen to Dan Romero"ks City Hall presentation! This flyer is another great example of why he should be recalled!


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