At least five candidates plan to enter council race
on January 15, 2010
The election isn’t until November, but at least five people have said they plan to run for City Council.
Ludmyrna Lopez, Maria Viramontes, and Jim Rogers are all up for re-election. None of them have indicated they plan to abandon their post, but there is still time for them to announce they plan to step down or seek higher office.
In fact, the filing period to run for the Nov. 2 election won’t open until July, but one anticipated candidate, Rhonda Harris, has already raised more than $1,000, state filings show.
Jovanka Beckles, who came within 500 votes of a council seat when she ran in 2008, has continued her campaign and is now vying for a seat this year. That campaign was her attempt at running for public office, and she is the first candidate with a Web site focused on the Nov. 2 election.
Beckles campaigned on a platform focused on systemic reform, green development and reducing street violence. During the campaign she garnered endorsements from numerous organizations including local newspapers, environmental groups and unions. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and council members Tom Butt and Jim Rogers also endorsed her 2008 bid.
Two former council members, Gary Bell and John Marquez, said they also plan to run again.
Marquez was first elected to the council in 1985. He has spent 18 years on the council, but his 2008 re-election campaign faltered, leaving him nearly 1,500 votes shy of retaining his seat.
He told Richmond Confidential his primary focus is generating jobs in the city. He says he supports clean growth and a green environment, but he is concerned that some council members are sacrificing both by opposing developments like the Point Molate casino project.
“I would encourage businesses to come to town because they’re the ones that create jobs,” he said. “Open space does not create jobs.”
Marquez sniped council member Tom Butt for labeling Marquez and the other four council members who supported an expansion of the fuel refinery as the “Chevron 5” several years ago.
“I hope that the people won’t pay too much attention to the labels that get thrown out. … Until that time happens you’re always going to have these divisions,” he said. “I truly believe that the City of Richmond and its residents — all of its residents — will pitch in and turn the city around.”
Bell is another former council member planning a return to City Hall. Bell served on the City Council from 1999 to 2004. He ran for mayor in 2006, but lost to McLaughlin.
“I see myself as being more an independent candidate,” said Bell. “Sometimes it comes down to political philosophies prevailing and that’s when cities like Richmond lose.”
Corky Booze has run for council unsuccessfully for almost 20 years. While speaking against the Point Molate casino project, he announced at Monday’s council meeting that he plans to run again this year. Booze finished sixth in 2008; he was more than 4,000 votes from securing a seat on the council.
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