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West County Times Series on Council Candidates

Although you can get this from the West County Times, either hard copy or on-line, I am copying below the four articles to date on City Council candidates:

Hotly contested race pits four incumbents and six challengers against one another for three seats

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 09/29/2008 08:49:31 PM PDT


In less than six weeks, Richmond voters will choose among 10 candidates to fill three City Council seats.

The council will shrink from nine members to seven at the end of the year. The terms of five incumbents are expiring, but just three seats are up.

Richmond has no shortage of challenges, from violent crime to an 11.1 percent August jobless rate, which exceeds the state and county rates, according to state data. The key to reducing joblessness, poverty and crime, many say, is to employ more locals.

Here's what the candidates said when asked what they would do to increase the local job stock:

  Incumbent Nat Bates: "The council has consistently insisted upon a percentage of jobs for Richmond residents on all contracts awarded by the city. For example, the Point Molate project mandates a goal of 40 percent that has been agreed to by the developer and city."

  Jovanka Beckles wants to provide small businesses, which most often hire locals, with the support to grow. "I will design incentives that promote local hiring, youth hiring particularly. I see our city expanding apprenticeship and job-training programs that feed directly into existing public and private jobs. I will also work to strengthen the Local Employment Ordinance to require higher percentages of local hiring."

  Corky Booze: "I would encourage my council members (to) join me in making sure the communities know about job programs; sitting down with

community leaders, schools, parents, youths, job developers and unions to find out what's upcoming or already available in the community and make this type of forum available monthly. I also would implement apprenticeship programs."

  Rock Brown: "I would make the city more business-friendly and reduce crime."

  Incumbent Tom Butt thinks Richmond should use its historic assets to create jobs, increase the tax base and make the city "a cool place to live." The Ford Assembly Plant, for example, reopened this year after renovation and is worth nearly six times what it was before. Employees number 600 for a payroll of $30 million a year, he said, and the city gets about $300,000 a year in taxes. "Cultural heritage tourism has a positive economic and social impact, it establishes and reinforces identity, it helps preserve the cultural heritage and it facilitates harmony and understanding among people."

  Navdeep Garcha: "Make it mandatory for any new incoming company and/or developer to allocate a certain percentage of jobs to Richmond citizens."

  Incumbent John Marquez: "I will ensure that the Local Employment Ordinance continues to be enforced. Enhance the job training programs in Richmond."

  Jeff Ritterman: "Funding from successful passage of Measure T can create hundreds of new, well-paying jobs. A partnership between RichmondBuild, Solar Richmond and Sun Power would allow us to begin a serious program of solar roofing of Richmond's schools, homes and offices. I would like Richmond to be the very first city in the nation to solar roof its schools ... by a workforce of Richmond residents."

  Incumbent Harpreet Sandhu said he supports a diverse economy that includes port activity, tourism, retail and the green industry to provide jobs. He wants to increase hiring thresholds in the city's Local Employment Ordinance and require subcontractors comply.

"We need to expand our public-private partnership for job training. We should make better use of Contra Costa College in our own backyard where people can take skill courses, in addition to general education. The trades unions have taken an active part in sponsoring more apprenticeship programs for the people of Richmond."

  Chris Tallerico: "I would work with the business community to bring business back to Richmond; the current closed door policy isn't working and we're losing jobs. We have an incredibly underutilized port and I'd do everything possible to bring maritime jobs back. Maritime jobs are union, pay very well and have great retirement benefits. Having Target and Wal-Mart in the city is nice but they don't pay a living wage."

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Election Coverage
This is the first in a series the Times will run on the Richmond City Council candidates. In the next week, turn to the Times to learn about where the 10 candidates stand on local issues.

Richmond City Council race: The Candidates
Nat Bates
Age: 77
Education: Bachelor's degree, San Francisco State; California teaching credential
Occupation: Richmond City Councilman; retired Alameda County probation officer
Background: Thirty years on the Richmond City Council, including two years as mayor


Jovanka Beckles

Age: 45
Education: Bachelor's degree, Florida A&M University; MBA, University of Phoenix
Occupation: Educator; small-business owner
Background: Richmond Economic Development Commission member; General Plan Advisory Committee member; Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's Environmental Health and Environmental Justice Task Force member; vice president of Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council; Black Women Organized for Political Action member; and other organizations


Courtland "Corky" Booze
Age: 64
Education: High school diploma; UC Berkeley Extension
Occupation: self-employed businessman; teacher
Background: Co-founder, Tent City Peace Movement; chairman of the Richmond Knox Freeway Cutting Boulevard Committee; past mayor's beautification committee member; member of Friends of the Richmond Library; Private Industry Council


Rock Brown
Age: 41
Education: High school diploma
Occupation: Wholesale supervisor
Background: Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission member; president of Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council


Tom Butt
Age: 64
Education: Bachelor's degrees, University of Arkansas; master's degree, UCLA; U.S. Army Engineer Officer Basic Course, Ft. Belvoir, Va.
Occupation: Richmond councilman; architect; urban planner
Background: Twelve years on the Richmond City Council; founded the nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust; founded the nonprofit East Brother Light Station; West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee member; chairman of the Local Government Commission, which provides support and networking to local elected officials and other community leaders; and other organizations


Navdeep Garcha
Age: 27
Education: Bachelor's degree, UC Santa Cruz; MBA, JFK University in Pleasant Hill
Occupation: Residential developer
Background: Not applicable


John Marquez
Age: 69
Education: Associate's degree, Contra Costa College; bachelor's degree, San Francisco State; attended UC Hastings College of Law for two years; community college teaching credential in Spanish, psychology, ethnic studies
Occupation: Richmond councilman, adjunct professor; retired peace officer
Background: Eighteen years on the Richmond City Council; U.S. Army veteran; past chairman of the Richmond Police Commission; past member of the Richmond Recreation and Parks Commission


Jeff Ritterman
Age: 60
Education: Medical degree, Temple University; Internal Medicine Residency training, Medical College of Pennsylvania; fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Washington
Occupation: Kaiser Richmond chief of cardiology
Background: Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's Task Force on Environmental Justice and Environmental Health member; Country Costa County Public and Environmental Health Advisory Board member; Center for Health in North Richmond Advisory Board member; vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility


Harpreet Sandhu
Age: 49
Education: Attended Contra Costa College and San Francisco State
Occupation: Richmond councilman; U.S. Postal Service associate
Background: Richmond councilman since 2007; past member of Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission; past president, secretary and treasurer of the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in El Sobrante


Chris Tallerico
Age: 38
Education: Junior college; trade schools
Occupation: Marketing and divisional manager
Background: Richmond Police Commission member; past chairman of the Richmond Sea Scouts

More police, job training needed to reduce crime, candidates say

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 09/30/2008 05:20:11 PM PDT


More police. More jobs. More mentoring and training programs.

The 10 candidates running for three seats on the Richmond City Council on Nov. 4 agree there is no easy solution to stemming homicides, which last year totaled 47 the most this city has witnessed in a single year in the past decade.

Twenty-three people have been killed this year, compared with 20 at this point in 2007.

Interviewed recently were candidates Nat Bates, Jovanka Beckles, Corky Booze, Rock Brown, Tom Butt, Navdeep Garcha, John Marquez, Jeff Ritterman, Harpreet Sandhu and Chris Tallerico. Bates, Butt, Marquez and Sanhu are incumbents.

Those asking for the public's vote say they want the homicide trend to stop.

Bates: "My effort has always been to provide 100 percent support to the professional men and women of the RPD (Richmond Police Department). With respect to prevention, I have and will continue to support the many 501c groups and other organizations in the community who are working diligently to curtail and reduce violent crimes."

Beckles: "Violent crime in Richmond originates from decades, sometimes generations, of despair, hopelessness and lack of opportunities. ... I will work to reverse this trend by creating opportunities that bring hope to our young men and women. Measure T (the manufacturers fee) ... will provide a chance for the city to invest substantially in our young people and in their education, training, job skills development and human interaction life skills."

Booze: "Founding and organizing more programs like the Tent City Peace Movement would be a priority. As a City Council person, I will continue to go into the communities that are known to have conflict. I would reduce violent crime in Richmond by initiating my experience and teacher training in educating youth." He added that he will continue to meet with citizens, the police chief and city manager, and the Tent City Peace Movement on a monthly basis.

Brown: "Increase job opportunities, increase police officers and increase youth programs."

Butt: "I continue to support neighborhood policing and our new Office of Neighborhood Safety, both of which are paying dividends by engaging the community in crime prevention and law enforcement as never before. For the first time in years, the police department is fully staffed with 168 sworn officers and 10 more are in the final stages of hiring." He added that code enforcement officials help ensure neighborhoods are cleaned up and nuisances abated because blight leads to more serious crimes.

Garcha: "My concern is primarily to focus on outreach programs that will provide some sort of job training and educational resources, thus redirecting attention toward positive attributes rather than senseless acts of crime. By emphasizing the importance of an education and giving the citizens of Richmond the opportunity to better themselves and their surroundings, I believe (it) engages people to strive for the better."

Marquez: "If re-elected, I will continue to increase the number of police officers and to support the Office of Neighborhood Safety."

Ritterman: "Greatly expand our jobs training program, especially RichmondBUILD, to create hundreds of new well paying jobs. Expand afterschool programs for art and athletics. Introduce Transformational Life Skills training into Richmond's schools, afterschool programs, parks and recreational programs and into juvenile hall. TLS training has been highly successful in the last two years in Alameda County Juvenile Hall."

Sandhu: "Reducing crime takes the coordinated effort of every part of a community: citizens, city, county, state and federal authorities. ... I want to reduce crime by increasing the number of police on the street. I will continue the work I've done so far by funding 22 extra police officers and I will work toward a goal of two officers per 100,000 residents from the current rate of 1.7 officers. I will propose strategies for crime intervention such as stricter handgun laws in the city."

Tallerico: "I'll let the police chief run the police department. All too often, the council steps in and puts pressure on the police to lighten up on one group and crack down on another; that has to stop. ... I would hold both the district attorney and the Parole Department accountable. ... Third is forcing the judges to actually hand down some real sentences."

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@ bayareanewsgroup.com.

Richmond City Council: The Candidates
Nat
Bates
Age: 77
Education: Bachelor's degree, San Francisco State; California teaching credential
Occupation: Richmond City Councilman; retired Alameda County probation officer
Background: Thirty years on the Richmond City Council, including two years as mayor
Jovanka
Beckles
Age: 45
Education: Bachelor's degree, Florida A&M University; MBA, University of Phoenix
Occupation: Educator; small-business owner
Background: Richmond Economic Development Commission member; General Plan Advisory Committee member; Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's Environmental Health and Environmental Justice Task Force member; vice president of Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council; Black Women Organized for Political Action member; and other organizations
Courtland "Corky"
Booze
Age: 64
Education: High school diploma; UC Berkeley Extension
Occupation: self-employed businessman; teacher
Background: Co-founder, Tent City Peace Movement; chairman of the Richmond Knox Freeway Cutting Boulevard Committee; past mayor's beautification committee member; member of Friends of the Richmond Library; Private Industry Council
Rock
Brown
Age: 41
Education: High school diploma
Occupation: Wholesale supervisor
Background: Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission member; president of Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council
Tom
Butt
Age: 64
Education: Bachelor's degrees, University of Arkansas; master's degree, UCLA; U.S. Army Engineer Officer Basic Course, Ft. Belvoir, Va.
Occupation: Richmond councilman; architect; urban planner
Background: Twelve years on the Richmond City Council; founded the nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust; founded the nonprofit East Brother Light Station; West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee member; chairman of the Local Government Commission, which provides support and networking to local elected officials and other community leaders; and other organizations
navdeep
garcha
Age: 27
Education: Bachelor's degree, UC Santa Cruz; MBA, JFK University in Pleasant Hill
Occupation: Residential developer
Background: Not applicable
John
Marquez
Age: 69
Education: Associate degree, Contra Costa College; bachelor's degree, San Francisco State; attended UC Hastings College of Law for two years; community college teaching credential in Spanish, psychology, ethnic studies
Occupation: Richmond councilman, adjunct professor; retired peace officer
Background: Eighteen years on the Richmond City Council; U.S. Army veteran; past chairman of the Richmond Police Commission; past member of the Richmond Recreation and Parks Commission
Jeff
Ritterman
Age: 60
Education: Medical degree, Temple University; Internal Medicine Residency training, Medical College of Pennsylvania; fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Washington
Occupation: Kaiser Richmond chief of cardiology
Background: Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's Task Force on Environmental Justice and Environmental Health member; Country Costa County Public and Environmental Health Advisory Board member; Center for Health in North Richmond Advisory Board member; vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility
Harpreet
sandhu
Age: 49
Education: Attended Contra Costa College and San Francisco State
Occupation: Richmond councilman; U.S. Postal Service associate
Background: Richmond councilman since 2007; past member of Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission; past president, secretary and treasurer of the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in El Sobrante
chris
Tallerico
Age: 38
Education: Junior college; trade schools
Occupation: Marketing and divisional manager
Background: Richmond Police Commission member; past chairman of the Richmond Sea Scouts

 

 

Richmond City Council candidates split on whether a casino should rise at the former naval depot Point Molate

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 10/02/2008 07:07:49 PM PDT

 

On a stretch of Richmond's shoreline, off-limits to the public, lies a sprawling chunk of mostly undeveloped property that many believe holds the promise of an economic boon.

City officials and a private developer are trying to secure the last 41 acres of land at Point Molate, an old naval fuel facility. They hope to transform the waterfront property into a mix of open space and a casino resort with 1,100 hotel rooms, a plan embraced by some and feared by others.

The candidates running for three open City Council seats in November are split on what kind of development they want at Point Molate and whether those plans should include a casino.

Incumbents Nat Bates and John Marquez and challenger Chris Tallerico say an entertainment complex with a casino would bring much-needed jobs and revenue.

"It's very difficult to pass up the 17,000 jobs that the project's estimated to create," Tallerico said. "And if it's planned properly, I think it can be done right."

But candidates Jovanka Beckles, Navdeep Garcha and Jeff Ritterman say a casino is not the kind of business that Richmond needs as it wrestles with reducing unemployment and crime.

"Public health literature shows that urban casinos always bring with them an increase in problem gamblers in the local population," Ritterman said. "These problem gamblers always end up stealing to support their addiction and some will turn to substance abuse and domestic violence."

Beckles said she wants to put it to a public vote, and Garcha added that she would set aside her personal views and back a casino if the public wants it.

The other candidates had different perspectives. Corky Booze said he supports hotels, restaurants and retail for Point Molate, but would hold community meetings to gauge public backing for a casino. Incumbent Harpreet Sandhu said he wants a "quality development" regardless of whether it has a casino.

Incumbent Tom Butt called the casino his "principal hesitation" in the city's negotiations with developer Upstream Point Molate. He said concerns about traffic, crime and gambling must be balanced by the potential benefits. The public will have input as the environmental impact report moves forward.

"It is not inconceivable that there may have to be substantial changes in the plan or that it simply won't pass muster," Butt said. "It is premature to assume that it will be 'tacky.' In fact, the current plan is for the entire casino component to be housed in the existing barrel cellar" of a historic building that is be restored.

Candidate Rock Brown said he didn't have enough information to form an opinion.

The 422-acre Point Molate 1 miles north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was where a Navy fuel storage and transfer facility was headquartered from 1942 until 1995. Historic buildings include 29 worker cottages and a Gothic red-brick building.

In 2003, city leaders secured the deed to 85 percent of the property from the Navy for $1. Officials selected Upstream as the developer, and sold the land to the company for $50 million. Upstream plans to transfer ownership to the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to build the casino.

Under one proposal, about two-thirds of the land would be dedicated to open space and parks; the rest would house a new entertainment complex. That complex would carry a 48,000-square-foot entertainment center including a 2,500-seat performance theater; 122,000-square-foot conference center; 1,100 hotel rooms; a retail village; and offices, a roundhouse and nearly 400 units of housing for the Guidiville tribe.

Some components would be housed in the cluster of buildings that make up the Winehaven Historic District after renovation.

Hurdles need to be cleared before anything is built. For one, officials need to secure the deed for the rest of the land and complete an environmental report.

The developer must clean up groundwater and soil contamination. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Gov. Schwarzenegger must sign off on the land transfer and gaming agreement. The federal Department of the Interior must declare Point Molate "restored Indian lands."

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND

  Nat Bates: "With a casino as the catalyst, more than 5,000 jobs on site and another 10,000 jobs off site will be created with a commitment of 40 percent to Richmond residents and millions of dollars in revenue to the city."

  Corky Booze: "I would have community meetings so that every citizen could have input."

  Jovanka Beckles: "An urban casino in Point Molate will siphon money out of Richmond rather than bring money to Richmond."

  Rock Brown: "I don't have all the facts. I want to hear both sides first."

  Tom Butt: "The city simply does not have the money to sit by and do nothing for an indeterminate period of time."

  Navdeep Garcha: "Gambling creates a social problem of domestic violence where funds are being used inappropriately due to temptations and the possibility of increases in criminal activity."

  John Marquez: "I support the development of a casino. That project will generate thousands of jobs during construction, and thousands of permanent service jobs."

  Jeff Ritterman: "Casinos encourage those who can least afford it, to believe erroneously that they can find a way out of poverty by winning big at gambling."

  Harpreet Sandhu: "I believe in quality development which is sensitive to the environment, whether or not that development plan includes a casino."

  Chris Tallerico: "I am interested in having a world-class resort, hotel and conference center with a casino in it."

CAMPAIGN 2008
This is the third in a series of articles on where the Richmond City Council candidates stand on local issues. The series continues tomorrow.

Council candidates share views on cleaning up neighborhood blight

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 10/03/2008 04:30:20 PM PDT

The deep pothole. The dark or dim street without enough lights. The graffiti-covered park bench.

Aside from crime, the most common concerns among Richmond residents are road repairs, street lights, abandoned cars in a neighbor's yard and other issues that affect the quality of life in neighborhoods.

Here's what the Richmond City Council candidates seeking the public's vote Nov. 4 have to say about what they would do to reduce blight and improve neighborhoods:

  Incumbent Nat Bates: "We have enough ordinances on the books. What is needed is a commitment by the council and city manager's office to make it a top priority of enforcement."

  Jovanka Beckles: "I propose that we give the neighborhoods more say in the general maintenance and solutions of the neighborhood problems. I think we must transfer proportionately to each neighborhood, some of the centralized power (finances). We must let the neighborhoods decide, for instance, which streets will be fixed first and what projects have priority. Part of the city's yearly budget must be for projects that each neighborhood has democratically chosen."

  Corky Booze: "Work close with the Richmond police department, code enforcement and the community. Tour/survey the city to identify and follow-up on problems that need correcting. I will report them to the proper department heads and follow up on them and monitor the progress. I will direct the city attorney to go after banks and lending institutions that don't maintain their foreclosed properties. I would raise the reward for those citizens who turn in illegal dumpers."

  Rock Brown: "Park upkeep and graffiti."

Incumbent Tom Butt points to a 2007 city survey that found that residents ranked "improving streets" as a top priority and added neighborhood councils want better code enforcement to control blight. "Despite a tendency during the campaign to get caught up in high profile and emotional public policy issues like immigration, casinos and pollution, most people's priorities are on fundamental public services. To win an election, we cannot neglect these, and we have to be able to show how we are going to pay for them."

  Navdeep Garcha: "Obviously, funding plays a huge part in the quality of street repairs and blight and being that we are in an economic downturn, the need for financing is more apparent then ever before. The redevelopment aspect is critically important to Richmond and its long-term success of deterring crime as well as sustaining a quality of life for its citizens."

Incumbent John Marquez: "I will continue to work with neighborhood councils and neighborhoods to encourage participation in cleanups. Neighborhood pride can be instilled by leading by example. Not all parts of Richmond suffer from blight and that is due to neighbors working together."

Jeff Ritterman: "Most of these problems are not being addressed because of lack of city funds. I am working hard to help pass ballot Measure T (manufacturers fee). With Measure T funds we will be able to address these problems seriously. Imagine having the funding available to train and employ our currently unemployed in infrastructure repair, tree planting and neighborhood beautification."

Incumbent Harpreet Sandhu said he supports the city spending $12 million on road repairs this year. He added: "There needs to be a concerted effort by citizens, the mayor, City Council, business and industry to make this a priority. I participated in the block-by-block cleanup of the Iron Triangle. I will continue the city's initiative of One Block At (A) Time, in which the city staff, volunteers and homeowners clean up and take back their streets. We will work to board up abandoned and foreclosed homes."

Chris Tallerico: "Further bolstering the code enforcement unit and increasing fines related to blight and illegal dumping would be a good start. Illegal dumpers don't take us seriously since the fines are so low, compared to what they're making hauling trash and debris away, especially when it's hazardous waste or debris from construction sites."

CAMPAIGN 2008
This is the fourth in a series on the Richmond City Council race detailing where the 10 candidates stand on local issues. The series continues Monday.