McLaughlin survives

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With all precincts reporting, incumbent mayor Gayle McLaughlin won a narrow victory over councilmember Nat Bates and John Ziesenhenne. However, Bates did not concede defeat before the night was over.

McLaughlin won with only 40.4 percent of the vote, edging out Bates by 607 votes. The mayor finished with 6,282 votes, Bates with 5,675 and Ziesenhenne at 3,551.

The vote tally was not finalized until after 1 a.m., and as of midnight neither Bates nor Ziesenhenne had officially thrown in the towel.

McLaughlin sounded exuberant at the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s headquarters, surrounded by a crowd of about 100 supporters.

“Thank you so much. I cannot say it enough,” McLaughlin said through tears around 11:30 p.m. “This is a grassroots campaign and it is a model to grassroots campaigns everywhere.”

The mood at Bates’ campaign was more subdued. The crowd hovered at around 25 people throughout the evening, and when Bates finally sent supporters home around midnight, he sounded resigned about his chances.

“We knew it was going be a tough one,” Bates said, wearing a white t-shirt featuring a photoshopped image of himself and the president in front of the White House. “John Z. and I were, to a large extent, getting votes from the same people — people who didn’t care for the mayor.”

Bates noted that the mayor did not win a majority of votes and said that if Ziesenhenne had dropped out, the results would have been different.

“If you look at the numbers you could very easily see that John [Ziesenhenne] and my numbers collectively would have very easily been a landslide,” Bates said, addressing supporters. “But that’s politics…you have to play the hand that’s dealt you.”

Ziesenhenne, who was stationed throughout the night at the Contra Costa Labor Center on San Pablo along with a few other candidates, said the mayor’s election was not good for Richmond.

“I’m certainly disappointed with not being elected,” Ziesenhenne said. “It looks like people who were elected have a different agenda for Richmond than the direction it has been going.”

Ziesenhenne said the progressives’ victory signaled that Richmond would not prosper in the near future.

“It’s certainly not mainstream. It’s going to continue on anti-business, increases in taxes… not having a type of plan to improve the city longterm,” he said. “I’m worried for business in Richmond. The future doesn’t look good for business. It’s not good for crime, either.”

Back at the RPA headquarters, McLaughlin said that her campaign had won despite hardball tactics from her corporate-backed opponents.

“They spent a lot of money, but they didn’t have the heart that our volunteers have,” McLaughlin said. “Our money came from people like you. We didn’t accept one penny of corporate money.”

Anne Brice contributed to this report.


  1. Congratulations to Mayor Gayle, and to the people of Richmond for electing a fine public servant who ran an upbeat, positive campaign all along.

    As for all the rhetoric about McLaughlin being somehow “anti-business”, give me a break. Despite the rough economy, Richmond has a balanced budget and has had few cuts in services or staff, unlike many Bay Area cities.

    What could be more attractive to businesses looking for a place to locate than a well-run, fiscally sound government?

    • Susan

      The Mayor raided the reserve fund to turn red ink black. It is a legal requirement to have a so-called “balanced budget,” not a testament to her fiscal responsibility.

  2. Newbie Richmond

    I’m new to Richmond and this election was a crash course in ugliness. I’m not talking about the so-called “pro” business folks that only see get-rich development schemes as a means to better the city and all others as “anti” business (“you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”). I’m talking about the Fire and Police Unions and the immature and schoolyard bullying techniques they used to attempt to discredit a person they didn’t want to see elected (McLauglin). I knew very little about Mayor McLauglin but as soon as I saw the Fire & Police Union mailers and ads I knew I that if she was the opposite of them then she was for me. Not the best way to vote but if this City is to turn itself around, I believe it is going to have to do so by taking the high road and NOT by employing these childish antics that only attack people personally and offer no sound critique or analysis to why your position is better. These Unions deserve to be punished.

    • answer me

      @Newbie Richmond. Yeah… I agree for sure. The smear campaign she was a victim of, only sealed the deal for me. I realized the other candidates were possibly involved and voted for her anyway. If I were not going to vote for her, I would have just to spite those involved. I really back fired on them. Good Luck Gayle! By the way, I voted ONLY for council members that were helpful and friendly for you too. Good Luck!

  3. Tim W

    I just had to laugh at Nate’s comment about John Z and the split vote. Hey, Nate! Why didn’t **you** drop out and give John Z your votes?

    • Tim W

      Oops, sorry, I meant “Nat”! 🙂

      • Susan

        Yeah, that was a good one about Nat. Especially since John filed his papers to run for Mayor before Nat did. Oh well.

        And I hope you were not inferring that I am conservative? I was registered Peace & Freedom Party for many decades, and then Green Party. But, I like to think that I am an independent progressive — registered as a Democrat now.

        To me, the labeling is a pretty dysfunctional
        shorthand. What I stand for is not that far from what Green would say they support, just probably a slightly differnet order of priorities. And, I do like to vote for people that I trust will work to support: working families; a woman’s right to choose; equality for all regardless of gender, orientation, race or religion; peace and economic and environmental justice.

        Thanks for your comments. We’re all in this together.

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