Skip to content

McLaughlin survives

on November 3, 2010

With all precincts reporting, incumbent mayor Gayle McLaughlin won a narrow victory over councilmember Nat Bates and John Ziesenhenne. However, Bates did not concede defeat before the night was over.

McLaughlin won with only 40.4 percent of the vote, edging out Bates by 607 votes. The mayor finished with 6,282 votes, Bates with 5,675 and Ziesenhenne at 3,551.

The vote tally was not finalized until after 1 a.m., and as of midnight neither Bates nor Ziesenhenne had officially thrown in the towel.

McLaughlin sounded exuberant at the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s headquarters, surrounded by a crowd of about 100 supporters.

“Thank you so much. I cannot say it enough,” McLaughlin said through tears around 11:30 p.m. “This is a grassroots campaign and it is a model to grassroots campaigns everywhere.”

The mood at Bates’ campaign was more subdued. The crowd hovered at around 25 people throughout the evening, and when Bates finally sent supporters home around midnight, he sounded resigned about his chances.

“We knew it was going be a tough one,” Bates said, wearing a white t-shirt featuring a photoshopped image of himself and the president in front of the White House. “John Z. and I were, to a large extent, getting votes from the same people — people who didn’t care for the mayor.”

Bates noted that the mayor did not win a majority of votes and said that if Ziesenhenne had dropped out, the results would have been different.

“If you look at the numbers you could very easily see that John [Ziesenhenne] and my numbers collectively would have very easily been a landslide,” Bates said, addressing supporters. “But that’s politics…you have to play the hand that’s dealt you.”

Ziesenhenne, who was stationed throughout the night at the Contra Costa Labor Center on San Pablo along with a few other candidates, said the mayor’s election was not good for Richmond.

“I’m certainly disappointed with not being elected,” Ziesenhenne said. “It looks like people who were elected have a different agenda for Richmond than the direction it has been going.”

Ziesenhenne said the progressives’ victory signaled that Richmond would not prosper in the near future.

“It’s certainly not mainstream. It’s going to continue on anti-business, increases in taxes… not having a type of plan to improve the city longterm,” he said. “I’m worried for business in Richmond. The future doesn’t look good for business. It’s not good for crime, either.”

Back at the RPA headquarters, McLaughlin said that her campaign had won despite hardball tactics from her corporate-backed opponents.

“They spent a lot of money, but they didn’t have the heart that our volunteers have,” McLaughlin said. “Our money came from people like you. We didn’t accept one penny of corporate money.”

Anne Brice contributed to this report.


  1. Matthew Heberger on November 3, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Congratulations to Mayor Gayle, and to the people of Richmond for electing a fine public servant who ran an upbeat, positive campaign all along.

    As for all the rhetoric about McLaughlin being somehow “anti-business”, give me a break. Despite the rough economy, Richmond has a balanced budget and has had few cuts in services or staff, unlike many Bay Area cities.

    What could be more attractive to businesses looking for a place to locate than a well-run, fiscally sound government?

    • Susan on November 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

      The Mayor raided the reserve fund to turn red ink black. It is a legal requirement to have a so-called “balanced budget,” not a testament to her fiscal responsibility.

  2. Newbie Richmond on November 3, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I’m new to Richmond and this election was a crash course in ugliness. I’m not talking about the so-called “pro” business folks that only see get-rich development schemes as a means to better the city and all others as “anti” business (“you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”). I’m talking about the Fire and Police Unions and the immature and schoolyard bullying techniques they used to attempt to discredit a person they didn’t want to see elected (McLauglin). I knew very little about Mayor McLauglin but as soon as I saw the Fire & Police Union mailers and ads I knew I that if she was the opposite of them then she was for me. Not the best way to vote but if this City is to turn itself around, I believe it is going to have to do so by taking the high road and NOT by employing these childish antics that only attack people personally and offer no sound critique or analysis to why your position is better. These Unions deserve to be punished.

    • answer me on November 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm

      @Newbie Richmond. Yeah… I agree for sure. The smear campaign she was a victim of, only sealed the deal for me. I realized the other candidates were possibly involved and voted for her anyway. If I were not going to vote for her, I would have just to spite those involved. I really back fired on them. Good Luck Gayle! By the way, I voted ONLY for council members that were helpful and friendly for you too. Good Luck!

      • answer me on November 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm

        “I really back fired on them” oops, I meant “it”.

  3. Susan on November 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Richmond Loses the Election

    Imagine what $2 million in campaign mudslinging money could have done: Hired more teachers, rehabilitated the Solano Children’s Playlot, and trained a handful of new police safety officers. We could have fixed some potholes, extended library hours, and even had enough left over to attract new green businesses to locate here.

    But, instead, we have a divided city council and a mayor who represents significantly less than half of the voters. This is not a mandate, it is a referendum on the past four years of a closed-door regime that has had great vision and rhetoric, but no plan.

    Indeed, the mighty ship of industry has been turned around and is now facing the promising horizon of the new green economy. But, we need all hands on board to make the transition. And Richmond’s first time office holder hasn’t learned to work with anyone outside her Green circle.

    Richmond cannot waste time squabbling over divisive labels like who is or isn’t “progressive,” alienating those with business acumen and connections to stimulus investments from Washington. Richmond’s unemployment rate is at 19%. The People need jobs.

    People, like myself, who support sensible, small business development and job creation are often accused of being pro-Casino, pro-Chevron or pro-Chamber of Commerce. This divide is a false dichotomy and gets us nowhere.

    Mayor McLaughlin: Remember, you promised and you were hired to create them. What’s the plan?

    • overhere on November 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      I am a supporter of Mayor McLauglin, or more, an opponent of those who ran against her, and some of their nasty, childish tactics. But your points are wise, Susan, and I do think it’s time for the Mayor and Council to reach out across “progressive” lines, and strive to work with all kinds of residents to build the local economy. I actually think they want, and can, do this. But the baton is now in their hands.

    • Travis on November 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      Your complaint is quite literally incoherent. Who misspent that $2 million? Not Mayor Gayle and the RPA, that’s for sure.

      • Susan on November 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

        HUH???? Do you have any idea how much the card rooms spent on mailers supporting McLaughlin and her slate? And what about the phony robo calls impersonating the chief of police? Never once did the RPA candidates repudiate the tons of campaign expenditures on their behalf by a casino and several card rooms. Nobody’s hands were clean. Except maybe John Z who did not enter the fray.

        In any case. The cards have been played and the voters have spoken. It is up to everyone who cares about the city to get engaged and get beyond the nice sounding promises and do some hard work finding busineses willing to re-locate, obtaining matching funds from Washington and start-up grants from Sacramento.

        This BS about not taking corporate contributions slays me. Certainly there is corporate greed, but do you think that there is a green genie that hands out jobs? No, services need to be provided, things need to be built or invented and manufactured. We need to facilitate this by having relationships with those who have money – democrats in state and federal government, for instance. Does Ms. McLaughlin have any relationships with Democrats in the state or federal government?

        Businesses incorporate – that’s the formation of the tax structure that most people understand. Cooperatives and other alternative business forms are good, but people need to start them. Where is the pilot funding? What is the plan?

        Let’s put a little thought behind the rhetoric and get some real plans and partnerships on the table. (And please do not tout SunPower which takes advantage of local tax advantages, hires no one from Richmond and pays no taxes to the City coffers).

    • Tim W on November 4, 2010 at 11:53 am

      @Susan — What you say seems to make sense, but I worry it might be conservative cant.

      What I think conservatives fail to understand about Green party progressives is that they seek to include issues such as environmental consequences and social justice in the balance sheet of any project. I’ve heard this referred to as the “Triple Bottom Line”. Traditional businesses — and mostly this refers to larger businesses that generate large amounts of waste and/or consume vast resources — often defer this cost to the public. These “externalized costs” end up getting paid for by the only agent who has the scope, authority and resources to deal with it — the government — unless a successful lawsuit can lay the costs back at the feet of those responsible. The result is generally higher taxes. So what would you rather have? The costs included upfront and born by responsible businesses (and their customers), or deferred to the backs of taxpayers later on?

      I would hope that all community leaders — whether they are politically “progressive” or “conservative” would take the responsibility to view a project in its entirety so that the community doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of greed and poor planning later.

      If this takes a little longer, as was the case with Honda, then so be it.

  4. […] progressives’ electoral victories last night will likely have a lasting effect on Richmond, further straining the city’s […]

  5. Tim W on November 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I just had to laugh at Nate’s comment about John Z and the split vote. Hey, Nate! Why didn’t **you** drop out and give John Z your votes?

    • Tim W on November 4, 2010 at 11:31 am

      Oops, sorry, I meant “Nat”! 🙂

      • Susan on November 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm

        Yeah, that was a good one about Nat. Especially since John filed his papers to run for Mayor before Nat did. Oh well.

        And I hope you were not inferring that I am conservative? I was registered Peace & Freedom Party for many decades, and then Green Party. But, I like to think that I am an independent progressive — registered as a Democrat now.

        To me, the labeling is a pretty dysfunctional
        shorthand. What I stand for is not that far from what Green would say they support, just probably a slightly differnet order of priorities. And, I do like to vote for people that I trust will work to support: working families; a woman’s right to choose; equality for all regardless of gender, orientation, race or religion; peace and economic and environmental justice.

        Thanks for your comments. We’re all in this together.

  6. Victoria Mason on November 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I was raised in Richmond from the early 60’s, and lived in the Bay Area until I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 80’s. I have been reading Richmond Confidential the last few months with great interest, and have been following the city’s election issues and mayoral campaigns. When I clicked on this article to find out the results of the mayoral election, I had to do a double-take when I saw the number of votes cast. Am I reading this right? In a city of more than 100,000, did only a little more than 15,000 people vote in the election?

    If that is the case, it is more distressing than any election outcome that the citizens of Richmond are not claiming their right to help determine the future of their city. There are almost 44,000 registered voters in Richmond (why not more?), but only a third of them turned out for the vote!

    Especially when one looks at the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the candidates, their supporters, and the PACs, not to mention the countless hours of campaigning, debates, letter-writing, etc., — it is disheartening to see that all this effort garnered such a tepid response. I am saddened that so many of my hometown neighbors could not muster a greater interest in the democratic process.

    Richmond, I wish you nothing but the best, and hope that your elected leaders will guide you in a direction that will benefit your people.

    Victoria Mason
    Richmond High Class of 1975

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top