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Assembly District 14 Race
March 1, 2002
With election day coming up, many people have asked me who I support in the State Assembly District 14 race and why. This race includes Dave Brown, Loni Hancock and Charles Ramsey.

All three candidates are good people and have substantial qualifications, experience and accomplishments. Dave Brown lives in my own neighborhood. We would be lucky to have each of them as elected officials serving our community. All have asked for my endorsement.

I have known Charles Ramsey well for over a decade, and I endorsed him in the District 14 Assembly race over a year ago. This was not a political quid pro quo. Charles endorsed my opponent, Irma Anderson, for mayor of Richmond.

At the time I first met Charles, he lived just down the street from me and was on the Richmond Planning Commission. It was while he still lived on my street that he and Donna married, had their first child and Charles decided to run for the WCCUSD board. In that first campaign, Charles was included, without his permission, in several incredibly racist and divisive campaign mailers paid for by the BMW and Firefighters Local 188.

Charles did something I have never seen a Richmond candidate do before or since. In a remarkable act of personal and political courage, Charles not only disavowed the campaign endorsement, but he wrote a letter published in the West County Times before the election condemning the racist and blatantly inaccurate campaign tactics of the BMW and Local 188. Despite what was considered an act of political suicide for an African American candidate, Charles was elected.

In the eight years plus that Charles has served on the WCCUSD board, I have admired him for his independence. As an elected official myself, I understand well the tendency of politicians at the local level to follow the recommendations of their staff no matter what and to go along with the majority. Charles has resisted that temptation and shown a passion in his service that I can relate to. For not going along with the status quo, asking probing questions of staff, disagreeing with his colleagues, and getting feisty in public debates, he was labeled by some critics as being “disruptive and confrontational.” In my book, this is tantamount to a compliment, not a character flaw. I want someone who will fight for his constituents and for what is right.

In his professional life, Charles is a successful attorney. I know that he has provided legal services for the Richmond Housing Authority, playing a critical role in moving the agency to the higher performance level it enjoys today. As a business person myself, I can appreciate a politician who also works successfully in the private sector. The demands of the private sector provide experience and balance that elected officials need in order to relate to the real, non-government, world. There is no substitute for the experience of having to make a payroll and depend on your own abilities to attract clients and make a living.

These are some of the reasons I chose to support Charles Ramsey. For more information on the District 14 race see http://www.smartvoter.org/2002/03/05/ca/state/race/caasm14d/ .