AIA Architect Running for California State Assembly

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Newell Arnerich, AIA, has announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the California State Assembly, a state legislative body that considers and votes on proposed laws of statewide importance, and often of great interest to the architectural profession. Examples of issues that interest the architectural profession include a sales tax on services, redevelopment/ infrastructure assistance, indemnification/duty-to-defend obligations, project delivery methods and competitions for public works, school and university funding, and affordable housing.

Throughout the history of the California Legislature, several engineers have been elected to either the State Assembly or State Senate. Several doctors also have been elected. And, of course, many, many, many attorneys have been elected over the years. But, to the best of our knowledge, no architect has ever been elected.
2014 may be that year.

Who is Newell Arnerich, AIA?
Newell is an architect, business owner, Mayor, and statewide advocate for economic development and housing. He co-founded the architecture-planning firm AD Architects, Inc. in 1978, and has served on the Danville City Council for 18 years, including five terms as Mayor. Newell currently is the CEO of AD Architects, Inc., which has offices in Oakland and Los Angeles.

He received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley. He has been teaching leadership, ethics and governance for the past 13 years and previously taught at UC Berkeley in the Architecture Department.

He has a strong record of community involvement. He served four years on the Planning Commission and five years on the Design Review Board. Additionally, he has served on numerous regional agencies and is a graduate of the League of California Cities Mayors & Council Members Academy for Leadership and Advanced Leadership. In addition, he was appointed by the President of the California League of Cities to serve on State wide Committee on Housing, Community & Economic Development.
He has a strong record of fiscal planning. Danville’s financial health has been guided by Newell’s philosophy of ‘planning and saving for the future’ without adding debt. Danville’s pay as you go fiscal policies have helped keep Danville out of the financial troubles that many other cities have experienced in this difficult economy. Danville is considered one of the best financially managed cities in the State.

He has a strong record of community planning. Danville is one of very few cities whose planning policies and actions have been endorsed by local environmental groups for excellence.

He is passionate about quality public education. Newell, whose wife, Janice, has worked in public schools for 30 years, as a teacher, administrator, and principal, served on a School District Facilities Committee that resulted in the successful passage of major school bond measures to improve local K-12 facilities. One of Newell’s priorities is to bring back an affordable University of California and California State University education for our children.
He has helped the AIA California Council in its advocacy in the Legislature. Newell was the lead witness in support of successful legislation co-sponsored by the AIA California Council in 2005 that brought balance to the indemnification provisions included in contracts for design services with local public entities. Additionally, he has advised the AIA California Council on efforts to support redevelopment assistance, support affordable housing, and oppose the sales tax on services.

What office is Newell running for?
Newell, a moderate Democrat, is running for the 16th Assembly District. There are 80 Assembly Districts in the state. The 16th Assembly District is located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. While the election is local, the impacts of the decisions made by Members of the Legislature are felt throughout the state. The primary election will be held in June of 2014.

So far there are three announced candidates for this seat, all Democrats. The current Assembly Member is a Democrat, and it is widely expected that her successor will also be a Democrat.

What are his plans if elected?

Newell’s priorities will be to focus on long term budget planning, a healthy business climate, and affordable higher education for our children — he owes his career successes to affordable access to the University of California.

Newell believes “the future of California has many different roads to choose from, and we must choose the path for success of our children, public education and business communities. When there is a problem in California we ‘innovate’ solutions and not continue on the road of the past, but rather focus on the future. California is the best place for innovation and there is no problem we cannot solve with dedicated and passionate leadership.”

How you can help.
You can find out more about Newell and his campaign at Additionally, you can spread the word about his race for the State Assembly, perhaps by sharing his campaign page on Facebook. Finally, you can help elect the first architect to the California State Assembly by making a contribution to his campaign. If every member of the AIA California Council gave just $20, that would help him run a competitive race and, hopefully, give architects a strong voice in the California State Assembly.


Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC

Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC, is the Director of Legislative Affairs for the AIA California Council, a position he has held since 1999. In this position, Mark is responsible for monitoring the CA State Legislature, identifying bills of interest to the profession, developing and implementing strategies for the positive outcome of legislation of interest to the profession, and representing the profession before the legislature. Prior to joining the AIACC, Mark worked for the State Assembly for nine years in several capacities, including as a policy consultant on several significant environmental laws. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the California State University, Sacramento.

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  1. avatar
    Mark Christian

    John, the AIACC Board of Directors does not endorse candidates for elected office. Mr. Arnerich did give a presentation to the AIACC Board of Directors earlier this year, and it was well received by the Board.

  2. avatar
    John Stafford, AIA

    Has the AIACC Board officially endorsed Newell Arnerich’s candidacy?
    John Stafffod, AIA

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