Lopez’s well-funded re-election bid focused on jobs, education
on October 26, 2010
Ludmyrna “Myrna” Lopez sat at Catahoula Café in San Pablo, holding her six-month-old baby, Fidel. She bounced him in her arms as he fussed about and tossed his hat to the ground.
A first-term City Councilwoman and mother of two, Lopez said concern for her children’s future is part of what drives her public service.
“I remember the streets being safer,” she said, “where you could leave your kids to play outside ‘til it was dark, the parks are maintained, and a vibrant downtown.”
Raised by immigrant parents from Guanajuato, Mexico, Lopez is proud to have grown up in Richmond. Her father worked a union job, the type of job she says she wants to bring to Richmond. She advocates using the port to bring in cars from auto companies in addition to Honda.
Lopez also cites her effort on behalf of education. For example the YouthWORKS summer employment program expanded to year-round, providing jobs plus mentoring, tutoring and training for at-risk youth.
“For me,” she said, “education was key in terms of seeing the world and having more economic opportunities open up.”
Andres Soto, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, said every candidate running for office is claiming to be a job creator. He characterized Lopez’s role on city council and the planning commission before that as a rubberstamp for business and developers, specifically Chevron and the casino at Point Molate.
Lopez views her relationship with business differently.
“My background is in public policy and I’ve been trained in looking at costs and benefits to every policy, to come to solutions when there’s disaccord,” she said, “That’s the way that I do business and that’s the way that I will continue to do business.”
Lopez did support Chevron’s bid to expand its refining capabilities in 2008, but said that rather than rubberstamping, she fought for tougher air quality and emissions regulations than required by the state at that time. The expansion has since been struck down in court.
On Point Molate, Lopez has supported the casino development, but said she would take into account the results of Measure U. She said she would only vote for a casino if it comes with a guarantee of jobs for Richmond residents. She also said she wants the developers to pay for a hospitality management program at Contra Costa Community College, to train people for hotel positions.
Chevron has funded an independent expenditure committee, called Jobs Now, to support a handful of candidates, and has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on Lopez alone.
Major donations have also come from building trades unions, heavy industry, developers, and police and firefighters unions. So far, Lopez has raised over $57,000 in her bid for a second term, more than any other City Council candidate.
County Supervisor John Gioia said it’s her experience that won his endorsement.
“Myrna brings a really thoughtful, rational style to governing,” he said, “She listens well, she always wants to hear all the facts before making a decision. For me, that’s an important quality.”
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