With billboards from the Nov. 6 election still standing around the city and councilmembers-elect yet to begin their newest terms, community organizers and elected officials met Thursday night at the Richmond Progressive Alliance to start planning for campaigns in 2014 and beyond.
While some community group representatives at the town hall meeting called the election results a “disappointment,” with Measure N failing and the two RPA-sponsored city council candidates narrowly edged out of the three available seats, the atmosphere of the speakers and those in attendance was optimistic.
RPA member Zach Wear said the all-volunteer group missed opportunities to campaign earlier and make an impact before Election Day.
“We lacked the capacity to do that work ahead of time,” Wear said. “What it really boils down to do is that we were really too late to make the difference in mail-in ballots.”
RPA City Council candidate Eduardo Martinez received the third-most votes on Election Day, but trailed sufficiently in mail-in and absentee ballots to drop him into fourth overall.
Community organizer Claudia Jimenez said the passage of California’s Proposition 30 was a major victory for those she worked with at the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, which advocates for immigration, housing and safety issues in the county. Though she called Prop 30 her group’s “main issue,” she said the failure of Measure N signaled the need for greater collaboration with groups like the RPA in the future.
Vivian Huang, a campaign and organizing director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, said she was encouraged by the role that minorities played in the election. “I think the story of this election that was really exciting for us is that people of color really made a difference,” Huang said.
John Geluardi, who writes regularly about Richmond for the East Bay Express, said money played the biggest role in the election. But he said the RPA’s strong support kept the election from swinging further away from it.
“Given the amount of money they spent, they really should have won by larger margins,” Geluardi said. “I think it’s a direct measure of how cohesive you guys are becoming, of how effective you guys are becoming.”
About 50 people attended, and nearly every chair in the small office was filled while the edges were scattered with observers. Members who spoke were optimistic the RPA could be more successful with its candidates in the 2014 City Council election. At least one of those candidates has already declared his intentions to be on the ballot again.
“That’s why I ran,” Martinez said of the encouragement he receives from members of the community. “And that’s why I will run again.”