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  In for a Penny, In for a Pound
August 4, 2004

This afternoon, I filed my papers for re-election to the Richmond City Council. If you don’t read any further, please go to WWW.TOMBUTT.COM and contribute today in some way to our campaign. Other than for monetary contributions, you are welcome to simply respond via email.


Despite serving nearly nine years on the Richmond City Council, I am compelled to recognize that there is not only much unfinished business but also a huge hole out of which we have to dig ourselves to get back even to where we were just a few months ago.


In my professional career as an architect, there is a beginning and an end to everything. Buildings are conceived, designed and eventually constructed. There is a great deal of satisfaction in clearing the final punchlist and seeing a structure occupied and functioning the way it was intended.


The City of Richmond, however, is always a work in progress. There is no final inspection and no grand opening. The “project” is simply progressing, standing still or going backwards. We are just trying to keep the machinery of government working and continually working to improve both the design and the execution.


I originally ran for City Council because I believed that I shared with the citizens of Richmond a vision of where Richmond should go and how we could get there. I saw all the ingredients of a world class city, periodically stymied, however, by corruption, special interests, incompetence and lack of leadership and accountability. I saw a City Council that followed instead of one that led – a City Council that was passive instead of active.


Elected in 1995, I have often been in the City Council minority, or sometimes even the lone vote, for items advocating fiscal responsibility, staff accountability, neighborhood empowerment, quality of life, environmental justice and sound planning.


Despite these challenges, and often despite the initial support of staff and my colleagues, I persevered. You should know that as a measure of this perseverance, I have authored more legislation adopted by the City Council than any other member, simply because I independently research issues, do my homework, take strong but defensible positions and rarely back down. I am tenacious, but I also know when to compromise and team up with my fellow city Council members to get things done.


This year, an East Bay newspaper named me “Best Local Politician,” citing honesty, communication (the TOM BUTT E-FORUM) and grit.


Come November, we need either a new City Council or a reinvented and rededicated City Council that sets high standards and finally holds management responsible and accountable. Richmond must return to the fundamentals of operating within a budget, fixing our streets, reoccupying City Hall, providing parks, recreation and libraries, attracting high quality development and keeping the City clean and safe.


I do not believe I have been part of the problem on the City Council, but I am certainly part of the solution. I am asking for your support in any way that you can give it. I am asking you to visit my website at www.tombutt.com and click on “contribute today,” to not only offer monetary support but to also convey your endorsement or to volunteer in one or more ways in the campaign. http://www.tombutt.com/contribute.htm


Richmond is at an historical crossroads. The outcome of this election could determine whether it is business as usual, with Richmond continuing to suffer, or whether it is a new day when we reach out with all our strength to our potential destiny as a great city. We have so many treasures – our people, diversity, history, heritage, businesses, climate, geography, arts and culture. It is time to stop hiding all this under a bushel and to use these treasures to make our city great.


As of today, 15 potential candidates, including four incumbents, have taken out papers, and six have filed. Incumbents have until August 6 to file, and others have until August 11. Five will be elected, constituting a potential majority. A list of those who have taken out papers follows, and those with asterisks have filed.


Herman Emmett Blackwell*

2601 Hilltop Drive, #1223

Richmond, CA  94806


Andres D. Soto

2420 Lowell Avenue

Richmond, CA   94804


William Idzerda

3600 Ridgewood Way

Richmond, CA   94806


Courtland “Corky” Booze

3302 Nevin Avenue

Richmond, CA   94804


John E. Marquez

5061 Buckboard Way

Richmond, CA   94803


Kathy D. Scharff*

5436 Esmond Avenue

Richmond, CA   94805


Eddrick Osborne

705 Payne Drive

Richmond, CA   94806


Thomas K. Butt*

235 East Scenic Avenue

Richmond, CA   94801


Nathaniel Bates*

1101 Silver Belt Drive

Richmond, CA   94803


Gayle McLaughlin

6115 Orchard Avenue

Richmond, CA  94804   


Arnie Kasendorf

32 Seagull Drive

Richmond, CA   94804


Mindell Penn

503 Commodore Drive

Richmond, CA   94804


Gary L. Bell*

5326 Glenwood Way

Richmond, CA   94803


Tony Thurmond

3409 Maywood Drive

Richmond, CA   94803


Deborah L. Preston

4533 Fieldcrest Drive

Richmond, CA   94803