Jim Rogers’ candidacy for Richmond City Council is filled with contradictions.
Elected in 2002, the 55-year-old Ohio native is running for his third term. Rogers markets himself as an advocate for the community. “I’m somebody who’s out in the neighborhoods,” he said at a candidate forum last month. “I’m listening. I’m accessible. People can email me, they can call me.”
Despite Rogers’ self-professed accessibility, he is the only Richmond City Council candidate who refused an in-person interview for his profile, saying he was too busy with campaign donors and that these were private conversations.
Rogers said he has filled potholes, saved a dog park, reduced the number of liquor stores in Richmond, and filed an initiative to keep schools open—all for the “neighborhood folks.”
His most recent campaign finance statements, however, show only one contribution from an individual Richmond resident—a $100 donation. Rogers had raised $34,450 in contributions as of October 16th, more than two-thirds of it from businesses and unions. About one-quarter of his funding comes from individuals outside of Richmond.
Though Rogers falls short on donations from community members, he tallied the most votes of any city council candidate in 2006, according to Contra Costa County Elections results.
Just one month before the 2006 election, Rogers had resigned from the California State Bar with “unspecified disciplinary charges pending,” according to bar documents obtained through the Public Records Act. His turbulent career as a personal injury attorney was documented in a 2003 article by East Bay Express.
As a councilman, Rogers has always painted himself as an environmentalist—one who supports using solar power and other green innovations in Richmond.
“There is a possibility to become a hub of green tech companies,” he said. “Like Silicon Valley, only Green Valley.”
In 2008, Rogers voted to allow the Chevron Corp. refinery upgrade, which drew criticism from Richmond’s environmental groups. Dr. Henry Clark, executive director of the West County Toxics Coalition, questions Rogers’ commitment to the environment. “He compromises on environmental issues,” said Clark, “to stay on the good side of industry.”
On the development of a casino at Point Molate, Rogers hasn’t stated his position. In a Contra Costa Times candidate Q & A, Rogers said that while a casino would broaden the tax base and local jobs, it would also increase the problem of addictive gambling.
Councilman Tom Butt endorsed Rogers’ 2010 candidacy, although he and Rogers differ on some critical issues. “He drives me crazy,” Butt said “but at the end of the day, I can work with him.”