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Mayoral profile: Charles Ramsey

on June 2, 2014

West Contra Costa School Board President and mayoral candidate Charles Ramsey, age 52, believes that Richmond can be a vibrant community, a bustling hub where young people choose to settle down after their youthful stints in San Francisco – as Ramsey did himself.

After growing up in Richmond – while his father was worked in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office in the sixties – Ramsey went to U.C. Hastings School of Law. He then moved back to Point Richmond to open up a law practice. Later, he moved to El Cerrito with his then-wife and raised their two daughters there. He has since divorced and is now living in Central Richmond.

So what will draw people to want to raise a family in Richmond?

“You’ve got to make it a place where they know it’s safe and they have good schools,” Ramsey said. But Richmond isn’t Moraga or San Ramon, he added. Unlike these other cities, Richmond has had a huge problem with property value decline. Looking forward, “it’s all about growth.” Revitalizing the inner city will be high on his agenda. “Those places look the same as when I was a kid,” said Ramsey of the vacant storefronts in downtown. “We’re talking 40 years ago, they haven’t changed.”

Ramsey’s campaign platform is also dedicated to improving the city’s school program, working with Chevron to insure sustained safety at the refinery, and working to garner genuine investment in the city’s troubled public housing system.

These may seem like lofty goals, but Ramsey said, “I don’t think they’re lofty when you look at the school district.” His more than 20-year legacy on the school board shows he can turn things around, he said. During his service on the school board, Ramsey oversaw the board’s full repaying of state debt. And to him, that’s the biggest accomplishment, “having the ability to be solvent now, and be fiscally capable of managing without the need of oversight.”

Second, he said, the board has made schools safer. “The kids seem to be excited and engaged in staying on campus,” he said. “That has been a really good feeling for me.” Third, Ramsey noted, he has overseen the development of dilapidated facilities at schools, including the new De Anza High School and the current Richmond Swim Center project at Kennedy High School. “That’s happening because of collaboration between the school district and the city.”

Ramsey’s biggest campaign donors are mostly labor unions, including local Building Trades councils. “I have the broad support of working men and women,” he said. Ramsey also receives donations from architects and construction lobby groups that are linked to school district development projects. One major donor is the lobby group Construction Employers’ Association, which represents Arntz Builders–the contractor that is building the $7.6 million swim center. Ramsey is glad to have the support from all of these groups. “I’m just pleased that people are excited about my campaign,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough race.”

Despite the Richmond City Council’s reputation for tumult and contention, Ramsey says he gets along with everybody on the council. “You have to just allow people to be themselves and not get them on the defensive,” he said. “Most people don’t realize that 90 percent of what happens, everybody agrees on. If you allow people to get through the ten percent, most of the stuff will happen pretty routinely.”


  1. Giorgio Cosentino on June 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    The current Superintendent has the support of the board (including Mr. Ramsey), even after his ineffective management of the district resulted in one of the most heinous crimes to ever have occurred on any k-12 school campus, that being the brutal attack on a young girl at Richmond High School. Add the OCR harassment findings, to which the district responded by extending the same Superintendent’s contract. Finally, add the confusion regarding the bond program. What exactly is the state of the district’s facilities after 6 bond measures?

    • Don Gosney on July 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Let me get this straight–if the crime had been committed just fifty feet to the west (off campus and on public property)–would this then be the fault of Mayor McLaughlin? Could this crime actually have been the fault of the people who actually committed the crimes?

      If a crime takes place in a Federal Building, is it because of President Obama’s “mismanagement”?

      We can take preventive actions until we’re blue in the face but it doesn’t preclude someone breaking the law if they find the opportunity.

      Errors were made and corrected.

      If you want to get unconfused by the state of the Bond Program, I know that all you have to do is ask. I’ve done so many times over the years and have received volumes of information.

  2. Michael47 on June 23, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Yeah,well, I’m not so excited……He’s got a lot of big donors he’s dealt with before, big track record in school district management, so what? When he wanted to live a better, safer, upscale life—where did he go? El Cerrito! Why not run for Mayor in El Cerrito? What is a nice guy with a school district management background
    gonna do except accomodate, accomodate, and be agreeable.

    • Don Gosney on July 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Let’s see–he moved to El Cerrito when he bought his house there more than 20 years ago. His family situation changed a couple years ago and he moved BACK to Richmond.

      Since he lives in Richmond, he’s not eligible to run for Mayor in that city. But I’m guessing that you already knew that–just as you know that the people of El Cerrito do not elect their mayor.

      You were trying to make a point that, in your mind, he has no business running for a leadership position in the city he lives in.

      And if you believe that Mr. Ramsey “accommodated” people while on the School Board, you weren’t paying attention.

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