November 22, 2006
Yesterday, Mayor Anderson made a gracious concession statement, both in her office and at the City Council meeting, acknowledging Gayle McLaughlin as Richmondís next mayor. Meanwhile, the media is having a heyday touting Richmond as the largest American city with a Green Party mayor. McLaughlin will take office in mid-January.
Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson conceded defeat Tuesday in her bid for re-election and congratulated her opponent, Gayle McLaughlin, a member of the City Council and an activist in the Green Party.
In a news release, Anderson said it was clear that the voters of Richmond had "opted for a different vision for Richmond."
Assuming officials certify the results as expected, the election makes Richmond the biggest city in the country with a Green Party mayor -- and apparently the first with a predominately minority population.
About three-fourths of the city's 103,000 residents are African American and other minorities. The Green Party's traditional base has been among mostly white, well-educated people concerned about environmental causes.
McLaughlin describes herself in her official City Council biography as a "lifelong social activist" for progressive causes. She is the product of a union family in Chicago and holds an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Anderson has been mayor for five years. She described it as a time of "many challenges, necessitating tough decisions that I made for the health and well being of our community."
She said she would work closely with McLaughlin to assure a smooth transition.
Anderson said in her news release that she was declining interviews. McLaughlin couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night.
E-mail Carl T. Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Irma Anderson announced Tuesday that she is conceding the Nov. 7 election to challenger Gayle McLaughlin.
"While there are some remaining ballots to be counted, the voters of Richmond have spoken," she said in a late-afternoon news release. "I called Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin to congratulate her on her victory and will work closely with her to ensure a smooth transition."
On election night, the race was too close to call, with McLaughlin leading by 190 votes. Her lead increased to 279 votes on Friday when Contra Costa County Clerk Stephen Weir announced the results of the absentee ballots.
McLaughlin, a Green Party member who refused to accept corporate donations, has been on the council for two years. She spent $28,000 on her campaign. Anderson, 75, who received major contributions from Chevron, the Council of Industries and the Chamber of Commerce, spent more than $110,000.
McLaughlin, 54, benefited from a third mayoral candidate, Gary Bell, a former council member who, like Anderson, is black. He received 4,800 votes, which many believe would have gone mostly to Anderson had he not been in the race.
Anderson, a retired public nurse, has deep ties to Richmond's black community. She was married to the late Rev. Booker T. Anderson, who was a former mayor and councilman.
She was first elected to the council in 1993. She served two terms as a council member before launching a successful mayoral campaign in 2001.
Anderson was criticized for being the city's top political figure when Richmond suddenly discovered a $35 million budget deficit in 2004. The crisis resulted in the cutting of hundreds of jobs and reductions of services.
However, she also won praise for effective leadership as the council made tough decisions to stabilize the city's finances and find new revenue streams such as Measure Q, which raised the city's sales tax.
McLaughlin's win is a significant breakthrough for the Green Party. Richmond is the second-largest city in Contra Costa County. It will be the largest city in the country with a Green mayor.
But McLaughlin's win may not have been a victory for Green principals as much as it was voter dissatisfaction with city government after the 2004 budget crisis.
Reach John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or email@example.com.
Posted on Wed, Nov. 22, 2006