Mayoral profile: Mike Parker
on June 3, 2014
Mike Parker’s campaign bio paints a portrait of the candidate operating as a behind-the-scenes guy for the Richmond Progressive Alliance since 2008, helping run campaigns and editing the alliance newsletter. This year, he hopes to take on a more visible role and become the mayor of Richmond.
If elected, the 73-year-old Parker said he will focus on education, affordable housing and job training.
“I believe the school system has failed both the teachers and the parents in Richmond,” said Parker. “People don’t have confidence in it.”
People are leaving the school district, he asserted, adding that one thing the city can do is help make schools a center for the community, offering services and resources for the parents and grandparents of students.
The rising costs of housing in San Francisco and Oakland will put pressure on Richmond as people start to look for more affordable places to live, Parker said. As a teacher of industrial electricity/electronics at Los Medanos Community College, he said he thinks that training residents for skilled jobs will help keep them from getting pushed out.
Parker, who holds degrees in political science from the University of Chicago and U.C. Berkeley, has received a vote of confidence from Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who after completing her second term plans to run for City Council in November.
However, before Parker can have any success at the polls, he needs to get on the radar of more residents.
“My name is not well-known to voters,” he said, noting that people who follow City Council meetings and politics may be a bit more familiar. “I’ve pretty much been a person who’s helped organized and helped push other leaders forward,” he said.
To boost his name-recognition, Parker has been canvasing the City of Richmond. He goes door-to-door with volunteers. They ask residents what they are looking for in their next mayor and share Parker’s vision with anyone who is willing to listen.
The grassroots approach is indicative of two things: the first is that the campaign has very little money. The Richmond Progressive Alliance prides itself on not taking any outside donations from large companies, especially Chevron.
“Chevron is a profit-making business. The basic decisions that Chevron makes are going to be for their bottom line and are going to be for profits,” Parker said. “The city’s role in this arrangement is to be the defender of the interests of the people in Richmond.”
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