NAME, Years Elected to City Council

George Burtchaell was elected to City Council in 1901. It appears that he did not serve, however and was removed from office on a technicality (see below).


Elected on the Municipal League ticket but quickly switched to the Republican ticket after election.This was not the reason (at least the given reason) for his removal from Council.


George Burtchaell may have been the City Council member with the shortest term ever, as it appears he was ousted from Council on April 3, 1901, less than a month after he was elected. Council Members were supposed to take office on April 1st,2 so it appears he would only have held office for 2 days. One Ethan R Allen contested Burtchaell's election, however. Burtchaell ran as an at-large councilmember. At that time there were 4 at-large positions and the City Charter read that no two at-large members could come from the same district.3 Both Charles Bon and Burtchaell ran from the First Ward and Bon won more seats. On May 1, 1901, Judge Greene ruled that Burtchaell was indeed ineligible.Ironically, Bon died while in office and Allen was disqualified from Burtchaell's seat since he hadn't been registered to vote in Oakland for 3 years, which made him ineligible to run according to the Charter.Greene appointed J.P. Courtney as Burtchaell's successor.8

Although Burtchaell drops out of public record after this, his first few days in office were also notable as he switched political parties and caused a lot of stir in City Hall. He took his 15 minutes of fame very seriously. In mid-March Burtchaell apparently made a deal to vote Republican. He would vote with the Republican members of council and they would make him President of Council. They would let him name the janitor and watchmen for City Hall and he would vote with them for the City Clerk and the City Wharfinger.5 Then, on March 24th he said that he wasn't doing this. He said he wasn't in the running for President of council, wouldn't be voting for the guy for City Clerk and signed a statement that was the opposite of the signed statement he had issued with the Republicans the week before.6

In other news, it appears Burtchaell was a plumber.9






  1. "BURTCHAELL HAS DESERTED LEAGUE." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 20, 1901.
  2. "PARCELING OUT THE PATRONAGE: Oakland Politicians Figure On the Distribution of Plums." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 25, 1901.
  3. "SAYS BURTCHAELL IS DISQUALIFIED." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 27, 1901.
  4. "COURTNEY WILL HOLD THE SEAT: Decree Ousting Burtchaell Is Issued by Judge Greene." San Francisco Chronicle: May 1, 1901.
  6. "BURTCHAELL HAS CHANGED FRONT: Recalls Pledge to Vote With Republican Members of the Council." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 24, 1901.
  7. "ALLEN CANNOT CONTEST PLACE." San Francisco Chronicle: Apr 3, 1901.
  8. " COURTNEY WILL HOLD THE SEAT." San Francisco Chronicle: May 1, 1901.
  9. Polk-Husted Directory.