.Lani Faulkner Launches Supervisor Campaign

Challenger to vie for Koenig’s Supervisor seat

A longtime biotechnology researcher and public transportation advocate is challenging Santa Cruz County Supervisor Manu Koenig when his District 1 seat goes up for reelection early next year.

Lani Faulkner kicked off her campaign on Sunday afternoon in a small, redwood-studded picnic area in Delaveaga Park. More than one hundred people were in attendance, including elected official and nonprofit leaders that make up the dozens who have signed on with endorsements.

Faulkner, 55, says she made the decision to run after several community members approached her saying they felt that their concerns were not being addressed by the board.

If elected, Faulkner’s view on the county’s public transit system would be a stark contrast to that of  Koenig, whose vocal opposition to the future passenger rail project has become a centerpiece of his time in public office.

Faulkner is founder of Equity Transit, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit that advocates for “a robust and affordable public transportation system.”

She points out that more than 70% of voters in Santa Cruz County opposed Measure D, which was supported by trail-only advocates and would have all but scuttled plans for a passenger rail.

Equity Transit actively opposed the measure.

“Supervisor Koenig doesn’t represent the majority and that’s part of the problem,” she says. 

Supporting public transportation systems such as passenger rail ties into environmental protection, which she says is another of her key priorities.

“Transportation is really critical, because it is one of our top contributors to greenhouse gasses,” she says. “So we really have to manage our transportation system and support robust public transportation, our bussing, future passenger rail and anything else that can help address these environmental issues.”

She adds that the state of California has signaled its support for such plans with its financial investment in the statewide rail network.

Faulkner has spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry and is currently the senior clinical research associate at Stryker Neurovascular, a Fremont-based company that develops technology to help stroke victims.

She says her experience in that industry—requiring her to work collaboratively with state, national and international institutions—has helped prepare her for the role as supervisor.

She also lists housing, homelessness, disaster preparedness and water and resource management among her priorities, as well as supporting and improving services for children and seniors.

She would also look to improve the county’s responses to disaster victims, such as those affected by the CZU fires.

“When I think of disaster preparedness, I’m thinking of this larger umbrella about how we can be better prepared for our future to manage all these things that might come,” she says. 

Faulkner serves on multiple local boards, including the local chapter of the NAACP. 

She teaches systemic and cellular physiology at U.C. Davis, where she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in physiology.


  1. Make no mistake. Lani Faulkner will focus her efforts as a mouthpiece for local, national and international rail interests with the backing of Roaring Camp Railroads, a local multi-million dollar tourist attraction, and the oil lobby. This is despite the dubious feasibility of passenger rail here. Her social media presence shows her to be deceitful and unreliable. Lani once even denied knowing about the existence of FORT (Friends of the Rail Trail) while being an executive board member.

    Be sure to check her political endorsements.

    I’m sure her campaign is and will continue to be basically a smear campaign against incumbent Manu Koenig and nothing much more.

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  2. Anyone who thinks we will ever have a train is delusional. Ten studies and soon eleven have proven that a commuter train will never be financially viable.

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  3. Wait a minute!

    Lani says “Supervisor Koenig doesn’t represent the majority and that’s part of the problem.”

    He was elected by a majority of those who voted in November 2020. With 88.53% of voter turnout for the First District, Koenig received a majority of the votes for a total of 38,684. Leopold received 4,438 fewer votes for his total of 34,246.

    As for Measure D in 2022, only 47% of registered voters even bothered to vote in that election.

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  4. Thank you, Greenway special interest supporters Jean Brocklebank and Charles Bruffey! We so appreciate you telling us exactly what’s what.

    Manu and his boss, Bud Colligan, have been manipulating politics in Santa Cruz with a few other wealthy Aptos residents for years. This is not a secret.

    Their real goal is railbanking in order to get control of the adjacent rail land, which the county would then be able to buy back at a “fair market price” (a bazillion dollars) in order to “build a trail.” “Greenway” has always been a major grift, which some people are just not able to see through.

    Manu and Bud’s plan for a rail-banking land grab is not gonna happen, because the voters of SC are aware of it. This is why we the voters have twice supported a version of Measure D, to continue with the original Rail Trail plan to build a trail and begin electric rail service across the county.

    And Charles Bruffey, I’m so very glad that people like you exist, to remind everyone how the power of negativity and denial means nothing in the face of actual progress and innovation.

    This is actually a great time to be applying for fed and state rail transportation money. If you kept abreast of the news, you too would know this. It’s not a secret.

    Just a reminder that the trail is partially built already, and many of us use it every day to commute, walk our dogs, and stroll with our families and friends, all the while being safe from car traffic.

    The electric rail will be built too, despite naysayers and those in the pay of a very few wealthy residents who think they can buy votes.

    Most European cities have local electric trains, and have for years. This is not some kind of a fantasy, but is instead a real way to deal with the dire gridlock and environmental issues facing our beautiful county.

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