|Richmond Mayor's Race Looks Like a Trifecta
July 14, 2010
It looks like another horserace for mayor of Richmond with at least two current and former councilmembers challenging the incumbent mayor. In 2006, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin squeaked to victory by 242 votes (37.73%) in a three-way contest that included Gary Bell and former Mayor Irma Anderson. In 2001, Irma Anderson was elected with 36.5% of the vote in a four-way race that included Nat Bates, John Marquez and me (I was second with 24%).
There will be some clear cut issues in this race. The Point Molate casino will likely be on the November ballot, and Ziesenhenne and Bates will support a casino while McLaughlin will continue to oppose it. Polls have shown that Richmond is split about 50-50 on the casino. Does that mean Bates and Ziesenhenne will split 50% of the voters with 25% each and Gayle will grab the other 50%?
Both Bates and Ziesenhenne are unabashed supporters of anything Chevron wants to do, while Mclaughlin has stood her ground and insisted on Chevron sharing the wealth and operating cleanly and safely. She cites her tough stance as laying the foundation for the $114 million tax settlement she supported that Richmond recently negotiated with Chevron. She is in Sacramento today trying to negotiate with state leaders, Chevron and Plaintiffs a settlement in the Chevron Energy Project litigation so construction workers can go back to work.
The mayor has also been criticized for promoting green business in Richmond , something Ziesenhenne and Bates somehow consider as anti-business. Jobs will be a big issue this campaign season. While there is really not much the Richmond City Council can do in the short run to alleviate Richmond’s soaring unemployment rate, Ziesenhenne and Bates will cite the mayor’s stance on Chevron and Point Molate as a jobs killer. The mayor will counter with statistics that show green jobs are leading the California economy. Richmond just won first place among large California cities for New Solar Installations in watts per capita.
You never really know who is in the race until the filing period closes. Bates will be under a lot of pressure from both Chevron and the Chamber of Commerce to drop out rather than splitting votes with Ziesenhenne because they largely count on support from the same constituency. Bates’ stubbornness, however, will probably prevail.
As for me, I have already endorsed McLaughlin. Richmond is in better shape than either Bates or Ziesenhenne will admit. We are one of the few California cities not hit with massive layoffs, including police, and we have a balanced budget. Our stubborn homicide rate is almost half of last year. If you happened to be at the July 3 symphony and fireworks event at the Craneway, you saw a diverse Richmond at its ebullient best, showing off its waterfront, its history and its optimism to impressed visitors from all over. I’m not sure Richmond is ready to put these successes at risk and change direction with a different mayor.
Former councilman files for Richmond mayor seat
By Katherine Tam