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Four Running For Richmond Mayor
August 12, 2001
The candidates are all current council members, including two whose terms end in November

By Peter Felsenfeld

RICHMOND -- Four experienced City Council members with disparate backgrounds and approaches will make up the ticket in this year's mayoral election.

Vice Mayor Nat Bates, who served as mayor twice in the 1970s, and council members John Marquez, Tom Butt and Irma Anderson all filed their candidacy papers before the Friday afternoon deadline.

Bates and Butt would retain their council seats should they lose, while Marquez and Anderson's terms end in November.

First elected to the City Council in 1967, Bates enters the election season with a brimming bank account and a broad base of support.

"I stand up on issues, I speak out on issues, I lead on issues," Bates said. "Contributors contribute to me because they know what I represent: fairness and honesty."

Bates retired as an administrative supervisor with the Alameda County Probation Department in 1989. He has served on numerous local and regional boards.

Bates said Richmond is on the brink of dramatic change that calls for his strong leadership and his ability to reach out to a multi-ethnic community. While in office, Bates said he fought against a ballot measure authorizing the city manager to spend up to $50,000 without City Council approval.

If elected, Bates said a top priority will be to control spending and demand employee performance and accountability.

"A strong, prosperous, multi-cultural community can be Richmond's destiny," Bates said. "I can make it happen."

A retired public health nurse, Anderson became Richmond's first African American City Councilwoman in 1993. She was re-elected four years later.

After paying her political consultant, The Lew Edwards Group, Anderson had just $13,378 left in her campaign account as of June 30. But Anderson said she enjoys broad support and raising money has never been a problem in the past.

"If you look at my past, I've always been the highest vote-getter, but I haven't always had the most money," Anderson said.

Anderson said her position as chair of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority has put her in a unique position to ensure the city received sufficient money to complete Richmond Parkway, the Transit Center at Hilltop and the downtown transit village.

Anderson also serves as the West County representative to the Contra Costa Mayor's Smart Growth Committee and sits on the City Council's Public Safety/Public Services Committee.

As a council member, Anderson said she is particularly proud of her efforts to secure adequate emergency care at Kaiser and Doctor's Hospital, and her contributions to establishing an educational component to community policing.

If elected, Anderson said she would work to cut levels of blight, increase street sweeping and make sure the city's potholes are repaired. But Anderson's primary interests lie with the oldest and youngest members of Richmond's community.

Anderson, who has been endorsed by the entire West County Unified School District board, said she would work to establish a Kids First! Richmond children's fund, similar to successful programs in Oakland and San Francisco, where programs are tracked over time.

"I have a deep interest in the education of our young people," she said. "An educated community means a healthy community."

As a former health care professional, Anderson said she is uniquely qualified to help establish local programs for elder care.

Tom Butt, owner of the engineering firm Interactive Resources, has served on the City Council since 1995. Endorsed by the Sierra Club and often viewed as a council outsider, Butt said he wants to establish credibility in city government.

Though he has only raised $3,549, Butt said he can lend himself money until he is able to solicit more contributions.

"Richmond for many years has been controlled by a handful of powerful political interests," Butt said. "They have been allied with some of the major industries and sources of money. One of my goals has been to broaden that source of political power."

Butt is on the City Council's Public Safety/Public Services Committee and serves as chair of the City Council's Business Opportunity ad hoc committee.

Though often known for being at odds with the council, Butt said he introduced more legislation that has passed unanimously than any of his colleagues. His successes include the city's Lobbyist Ordinance, the Weed Abatement Ordinance, amendments to the Affirmative Action Ordinance and the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

With a masters degree in architecture from UCLA, Butt said he is strongly in favor of responsible growth that will help make Richmond a "destination city."

If elected Butt said he would mount a campaign to help neighborhoods overcome nuisances like burned out houses, weeds and abandoned vehicles.

"There's plenty of evidence to show that if you run a nuisance abatement program effectively, you can reduce crime," Butt said. "And if you don't, the message is you don't care about the neighborhood."

Marquez, who worked to enforce labor laws with the state Department of Industrial Relations before retiring in 1993, served on the City Council from 1985 to 1991, and then again from 1995 to the present.

Like Butt, Marquez said he wants to add much-needed respectability and accountability to Richmond's political system.

For starters, Marquez has called for an independent audit into the bidding process surrounding Richmond's Waste Water Facility.

If elected, Marquez said he would work closely with the police department to explore ways of reducing crime.

"When people tell me they're afraid to sit on their porches in the evenings like they used to, I get really concerned," Marquez said. "We shouldn't have to live that way."

Marquez said he also wants to get the city moving on large projects like the Transit Village near the downtown BART station, and smaller projects like road improvements along Valley Avenue and Macdonald Avenue.

Marquez said he wants to attract businesses to Richmond that are committed to hiring, training and providing living wages to local residents, and he wants to set up a partnership with the West Contra Costa School District to set up after-school programs.

The election for both mayor and City Council will be Nov. 6.