Residents got a glimpse at what this year’s City Council candidates would look like on the dais in the City Council Chambers at a candidate forum Monday night.
Ten of the 11 candidates attended the forum, moderated by the League of Women Voters and the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council. Anthony Green was absent.
“It amazes me that there’s so many candidates for three seats,” resident Karen Leong Fenton said.
Fenton said watching the forum helped since she normally depends on newspaper coverage to understand City Council dynamics.
“And I haven’t made up my mind,” Fenton said. “So [the forum] was eye-opening.”
The audience turnout wasn’t as robust as most city council meetings, with rows of chairs empty in the chamber, but the taken seats were filled with several familiar faces.
Usual-goers Wesley Ellis, Don Gosney, Andres Soto, and Jackie Thompson—who recently resigned as a volunteer for Councilmember Corky Booze—were in attendance.
Current Councilmembers Jeff Ritterman, Booze, and Jovanka Beckles sat on the other side of the dais during the forum, unseen and unheard until the mediators opened up for questions.
Jovanka Beckles asked candidate Marilyn Langlois to address a campaign mailer sent this week that accused Langlois of failing to pay her federal taxes during the years of 2007 and 2008.
The mailer was sent by Moving Forward, a coalition of businesses, labor unions, and other associations, which also created a website opposing Langlois’ election.
Langlois confirmed during the meeting and in a released statement on Monday that she did refuse to pay her federal taxes in a “war tax resistance as a symbolic gesture to protest the use of federal tax dollars for the illegal and destructive Iraq war.”
As with previous forums in the Richmond Senior Center and Point Richmond, Chevron’s future with the city was discussed and was used by residents and council members as a way to distinguish candidates from one another.
Along with Beckles, Ritterman posed a question to Langlois, asking if she thought there’s a danger to having city councilmembers who are beholden to Chevron, naming Nat Bates, Gary Bell, and Bea Roberson as those who the company is paying to become elected.
Langlois said it’s important candidates remain separate from corporations and hold Chevron accountable.
Bell clarified that he hasn’t received funding from Chevron after a resident asked him if he would recuse himself from voting on items related to the company.
Monday’s discussion included the newest development with refinery, which is the decision to appeal a ruling on its tax assessments. In April, the County Assessor’s Appeals Board denied Chevron’s tax assessment appeal for the years 2007-2009, when the company says it was over-taxed by up to $73 million.
“You would think that what happened August 6,and the bypassed pipe, and pure PR would tell [Chevron], ‘OK, we’re going to wait before we try to do this, and insult them again by trying to take money,’” candidate Jael Myrick said.
The next candidate forum will be held this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at St. Peter C.M.E. Church in El Cerrito.