Community organizations look back at elections and forward to future campaigns

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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.”

15 Comments

  1. I suppose that it’s a matter of perspective but to suggest that the two RPA candidates were “narrowly” edged out of the winners box may be something of a misstatement.

    One was 706 votes away (7.5%), the other was more than 2600 votes away (35%). That’s a bunch. Even in Florida they don’t consider it close unless it’s less than a half of one percent difference.

    We keep reading where some people are discussing election day results as if they carry more weight than vote-by-mail votes. The trend has been that more and more people are voting by mail. In this election, it’s almost dead even with 33,381 votes by mail and 33,406 on election day. As the Election Department finishes the vote in the next week or so, the percentage of vote-by-mail votes will increase even higher. That’s a part of the election process these days.

    The comment about how people of color making a difference here in Richmond comes across as if people haven’t been aware that people of color have been making a difference for decades. Perhaps she’s suggesting that it’s people of a DIFFERENT color that’s making the difference.

    Of course, since statistics are not being kept about the color of a voter’s skin when they vote–and since more than half don’t even show up at a polling place–I’m not sure how anyone can accurately make a statement about how a voter’s skin affected the outcome.

    And aren’t we all supposed to be equal? Or is this something that sounds good only when someone wants to use their skin color, their ethnicity or their gender to take advantage of a situation?

    • John Geluardi

      Ho hum.

      • Felix Hunziker

        “Ho hum”? Maybe Gary Bell was right, John really has become a mouthpiece for the RPA. Where’s that kickass, objective reporter I remember from a few years ago?

        • Jeff Ritterman

          John Geluardi gave an insightful and detailed analysis of the election. I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss John as being a mouthpiece for anyone including the RPA. What John pointed out is that the candidates who Chevron supports take positions which do not advance the economic nor the social conditions in Richmond. Examples abound:
          Bates voted against saving three schools when they would have closed without City funding.
          Bates and Booze favored pesticide use over Integrated Pest management in our parks. Bates and Booze oppose joining the Marin Energy Authority which places us in a position to make Richmond and world less dependent on fossil fuels. Bates opposed the General Plan, not exactly a radical document. Bates opposed our Smoking Ordinances which are now models for the state. Booze repeatedly attacks ONS despite the obvious terrific results in decreases in crime and homicides. Booze initially opposed CyberTran despite the amazing upside in job creation possibilities. Bates and Booze both advocate for sole sourcing the next garbage contract to Republic despite every city council in the JPA, which constitutes Recyclemore, coming out in favor of a competitive process which will give our rate payers a better contract. Booze attacked the Red Oak Victory, a proud symbol of Richmond’s rich past. A detailed look at the voting records of those who Chevron supports shows that virtually every area of considerable progress made by the city these last four years have been opposed by Chevron’s candidates. It appears that Chevron has an interest in keeping Richmond backward, not a leader in creating a sustainable and healthy city for all.

          • OMG, get on your wader boots, the crap is gonna get mighty high from the Socialist Greens and the their lacky front group, the so-called RPA! You got political payback and your puishment from this community that you have attempted to maim and destroy!No one in this community wants you here! Get the message hit the road ,Jack

          • Edwin

            This simple amount to a propaganda movement not based on whole truth, check the KRCT archives http://richmond.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 see why they voted as so, Cost and accountability were major factors.

          • Edwin

            Oh well Mr. Ritterman, according to Contra Costa Time reporter Robert Rogers
            “Of the seven members of the City Council, four are still RPA members or generally in line with the RPA agenda, which includes a tough environmental stance on Chevron’s Richmond refinery, public health and nutrition measures, increasing bike lanes and pedestrian amenities, pushing urban gardening and parks, reducing pesticide use, and continuing the city’s holistic approach to public safety.” We can clearly see why you strongly disagree with council members whom don’t vote RPA’s agenda. Keep it real!

      • Blah, Blah, Blah……………equates BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mr. Martin

      While there is no official definition of “narrowly”, I think its at least fair to call Eduardo Martinez a “close” finisher to Gary Bell. Again, as I will be reminding everyone in this forum continuously, Gary Bell’s 706 vote “win” is something he fully owes to Chevron. Without the massive monetary support from Chevron, Bell loses this election, and it wouldn’t have been a “narrow” or even “close” loss.

  2. If Bell doesn’t return, will the “progressives” AKA communists in charge of Richmond pull in one more nut job for the council??

    • Mr. Martin

      Marilynne,

      Making disparaging comments like yours (“communist”, “nut job” etc) does not make for a productive discussion. Let’s talk about something more intelligent and interesting – you obviously do not like the RPA, but I have a few questions for you –

      1. How do you feel about Councilman Bates and Council Member Elect Gary Bell accepting massive campaign contributions from Chevron?

      2. Would you prefer to be represented by a council-member who owes their political life to a corporation with a history of disregard for the health, safety and well-being of the residents of Richmond over an RPA member? If so, please explain your reasoning as I would be interested in better understanding your viewpoint.

      For the record, I do not agree with some of the viewpoints and beliefs of the RPA as I find them naive and unrealistic. However, I cannot fault the RPA for putting their own political interests over the interests of the citizens of Richmond. The same cannot be said about Nat Bates or Gary Bell. Gary Bell is a more dangerous animal in that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. At least we know where Nat Bates stands.

      If Gary Bell is unable to serve his term, I believe that it is an opportunity to avoid allowing Chevron to unduly influence the actions of the Richmond City Council. While on a personal level I wish Gary a speedy and full recovery from whatever ailment he has been fighting, I do not think it is in the best interest of our city to have him as part of the council.

      • Mr. Martin

        PS – let me revise part of what I’ve stated as it reads poorly in its current form – to avoid an improper interpretation of my meaning, I should amend my comment to read “I cannot point out examples of the RPA putting their own political interests over those of the citizens of RIchmond”.

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