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Heavyweight politicos gather in Richmond

on May 14, 2010

Some of Richmond’s biggest movers and shakers gathered on May 6 to bolster what they hope is a continued era of political strength.

The candidates for county office turned out to give short remarks, shake hands and mingle with members of several influential political organizations at the a meet-and-greet hosted in the lobby of the Richmond Sanitary Service union near Hilltop Mall.

Candidates on hand were: District 1 County Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa County Sheriff candidate David Livingston, Contra Costa County Assessor candidate Bob Brooks and Contra Costa County District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley.

The event, which was hosted by longtime Richmond City Councilman and powerful political figure Nat Bates, brought together many of the leaders of some of the most influential political action committees in West County.

The committees that formally endorsed the candidates were: Black Men and Women (BMW), Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC), Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), the Richmond Police Officers Association (RPOA), the Richmond Fire Local 188, the National Brotherhood Alliance (NBA), African American for a Better Richmond (AAFBR), Richmond Baptist Ministers Union and several neighborhood council presidents and members.

Three of the four candidates are challengers, and plenty of assertions flew about how West Contra Costa County has been given short shrift in the past.

Livingston, who is vying to replace retiring Sheriff Warren Rupf – whose endorsement he touts – isn’t campaigning against an incumbent. But he stressed that he would improve public safety in Richmond, especially unincorporated North Richmond, which is patrolled by the sheriff.

“The biggest issue for the next sheriff is fighting for an adequate budget for deputies to be on patrol, particularly in the unincorporated areas, which includes, for example, North Richmond or El Sobrante,” Livingston said.

O’Malley, whose father, Bill O’Malley, was a popular Contra Costa County district attorney, judge and public defender, played up his roots in the East Bay while also noting that Richmond continues to suffer from high crime rates.

O’Malley is locked in a race against Mark Peterson and Elle Falahat to head an office that has been marred by scandal and is among the most understaffed in the state.

“I can guarantee if I win this election I will be sitting in the Richmond District Attorney’s Office at least a couple of days a week if not three days a week making sure I am part of this community,” O’Malley said. “You can’t neglect Richmond.”

While the event was hosted by the most powerful African-American political organizations in Richmond, three of the four candidates supported at the event are white, including Gioia, a longtime incumbent who is being challenged by local attorney Mister Phillips, who is black.

Jim McMillan, a former member of the Richmond City Council, a founder of BMW and a current member of BAPAC, said the endorsements were based on interviews conducted in recent months.

“We interviewed all of them and they were the candidates who gave the best answers,” McMillan said.

20100513_danomalley.mp3|Click here|Click to hear interview of District Attorney candidate O’Malley.|20100513_davidlivingston.mp3|Click here|Click to hear interview of Sheriff candidate David Livingston.|20100513_jimmcmillan.mp3|Click here|Click to hear interview of Jim McMillan.

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