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Richmond Hopefuls Make Case
September 7, 2001
City Council, mayoral candidates seek business leaders' endorsement 

By Peter Felsenfeld

RICHMOND -- Most of the city's mayoral and City Council candidates made their pitch to business leaders Thursday afternoon at a forum sponsored by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Only Councilman Richard Griffin and Lynn Wade, a candidate for a two-year council seat, didn't attend the event.

The candidates also were invited to attend a forum Thursday evening sponsored by Richmond's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The chamber of commerce recently formed a political action committee, which could decide whether to endorse a candidate at a board meeting Monday, said chamber president Judith Morgan.

"For the business community, there are a lot of things at stake coming up in the future," Morgan said. "We're looking for a business-oriented candidate, but we don't know if there are any."

Before the meeting at the Richmond Country Club, Morgan said chamber members wanted to hear the candidates' views on project labor agreements and the city's plans to adopt a living wage ordinance and an inclusionary housing ordinance.

Morgan also said the chamber wanted assurances that construction money raised by the city would be spent effectively.

Aside from Councilman Charles Belcher, who said he favors a fair living wage ordinance, candidates failed to address the key issues Morgan spelled out.

In five-minute prepared statements, Councilman Tom Butt, who is running for mayor, and council hopefuls Jim Rogers and Courtland "Corky" Booze emphasized their practical experience as small-business owners.

Council members Irma Anderson and Nat Bates, both running for mayor, stressed their government experience and ability to build coalitions.

Councilman John Marquez, a mayoral candidate; Belcher; and council candidate Rachel McGee spoke of creating a positive business environment through neighborhood improvements and supporting an educated work force.

Council candidate Maria Viramontes highlighted her many positions in state and local government, and council hopeful Adrienne Harris concentrated on quality of life issues such as open space and smart growth.

Earlier in the day, Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin announced she was endorsing Anderson and Butt for mayor and Belcher and Viramontes for the council.

Corbin is precluded by term limits from running again.

"I've agonized over this for some time, and I'm comfortable with both of them," Corbin said of her mayoral choices. "I think they're both fair and independent minded."

Peter Felsenfeld covers Richmond. Reach him at 510-262-2725 or pfelsenfeld@cctimes.com.