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The 2014 mayoral candidates: Where they stand

on October 27, 2014

With only a week before the election begins, Richmond is heating up with election fever. With ads, flyers and canvassers out in full force, though, it can be hard to figure out where exactly the three mayoral candidates stand. So we interrogated Nat Bates, Uche Uwahemu and Tom Butt on number of issues, including the budget deficit, the Citizens United decision, Doctors Medical Center, and the future of Richmond.

Uwahemu, Bates and Butt will square off in the upcoming Nov. 4 election.  The candidates’ answer order is alphabetic.

What, if any, changes would you support in how city council meetings are run? Please be specific.

Nat Bates:

I would start our meetings promptly and request our Council Members dress professionally. We must remember that we are representing the community and should conduct our meetings in a civil and respectful manner allowing all sides of an issue to be heard whether we agree or disagree with the content. My goal is to restore order at City Hall which includes the way our Mayor and Councilmembers run City Council Meetings. We must do better.

Tom Butt:

The most important change we need is to remove Corky Booze. He is a source of constant disruption and has no respect for parliamentary procedure. He is the source of most of the problems. We could also find a way to reduce the time for proclamations and presentations; they are popular but extremely time-consuming during the critical early part of the meeting. Reducing audience demonstrativeness would be helpful; this was requested during the two forums held in the Council Chamber, and people cooperated, creating an effective and respectful atmosphere.

Uche Uwahemu:

Change in leadership, electing a candidate with less temperament and can manage different personalities. Clearly defined rule of engagement, and respect for the rule of order.

Nat Bates (File Photo)

To address the budget deficit, what specific cuts and what specific revenue increases would you support?

Nat Bates:

Eliminating programs and cutting staff is not an easy task. Our budget must be looked at in relationship to its revenues and expenditures. As Mayor I would sit down with our City Manager and work collaboratively with the City Council and develop a list of priorities to match the revenue income we receive. Once a list of priorities is agreed upon and vetted with the community we must then review the budget, line item by line item, to determine what must be cut and what we must keep. The Budget will be challenging which is why we must implement processes that make doing business in Richmond easier, continue retaining and recruiting better jobs and implement approved projects that can bring Richmond revenue NOW! As Mayor, I will utilize my experience to pass a budget that we can live with, it will be challenging but without struggle there is no progress!

Tom Butt:

We need to wait and see what happens in the next few months. Measure U will be decided in November, and property tax revenue projections will be available in January. There may be a small amount of revenue for the General Fund from the Chevron Community Benefits Agreement. Any budget cuts will result in reduction of services that are popular and critical.

Uche Uwahemu:

I will commence a comprehensive (outside) audit to have a clear insight and determine the effectiveness of every department, reduce waste, and allocate/reallocate resources. Any reasonable prudent leader coming into our current situation in Richmond must regain public and business community trust and not continue business as usual. Our community is brainwashed by career politicians and ideologue in believing that they are doing what is right for them. The lack of growth in many sectors of the economy speaks for itself.

Tom Butt (Photo Courtesy of Fan Fei)


What is your financial vision for The Doctors Medical Center (DMC) for the next 3 years? 

Nat Bates:

DMC is an asset to our community and without it, would leave a huge hole in our County’s Health Care service delivery system. To that extent, realizing that it is not the City of Richmond who is responsible for providing health care to the uninsured, I firmly believe that we must play a role. A collaboration consisting of cities, the county and businesses must come to a financial agreement to ensure that DMC stays open.

Tom Butt:

A miracle. This is a critical challenge for West County, but it is a state and federal government problem that stems from inadequate reimbursement for Medi-Cal services. This should not be Richmond’s responsibility.

Uche Uwahemu:

I would hope that DMC stays open as a full service hospital. The responsible thing moving forward is to move in the direction of partnering with another health care facility that can provide a mutually beneficial partnership. Most health care providers are moving in this direction in order to remain viable and competitive. We also need changes in leadership and transparency to regain public trust.

Check out Gabriel Sanchez’s coverage of the Doctors Medical Center

Uche Uwahemu (Photo Courtesy of Fan Fei)

Do you agree with the Citizens United decision? What is the impact of the ruling on Richmond’s politics?

Nat Bates:

The Supreme Court has ruled very clearly that corporations have the same rights as individuals, labor unions and others in the political arena.  Incidentally, no one cried wolf when the past two elections saw big gaming dollars support of the Mayor and her progressive slate of candidates.

Tom Butt:

No. Citizens United did not really affect Richmond directly because the PAC money coming into the Richmond election was legal before Citizens United. It does, however, affect the power of the oil and railroad lobby in Congress, which does affect Richmond.

Uche Uwahemu:

I have maintained that the ruling was a flagrant affront on our democracy, thus I have not taken any money from any corporation to finance my campaign. The impact of the ruling is not only prevalent in Richmond politics but all over the country.

Check out Harriet Rowan’s coverage of campaign financing in Richmond

What is your number one priority in running for city council/mayor? How would you address that issue if elected?

Nat Bates:

Jobs, is the number one priority. We have opportunity to grow and prosper but under the current Mayor we have missed many opportunities and have been slow to act on others. For example, we lost a major opportunity for job growth with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and we have failed to implement our Minimum Wage Ordinance. In addition, we have the potential to revitalize Hilltop Mall, expand our Port operations and responsibly develop our underutilized shoreline. My goal is to utilize my experience and connections that I have made over the years and create good paying jobs in Richmond for our families.

Tom Butt:

My top priority is to continue the trend towards increasing the quality of life for all in Richmond, making it safer, cleaner, greener, healthier and more prosperous equitably. This will attract new business, grow existing businesses, and create jobs and economic opportunity, taking advantage of our central location in the Bay Area, our access to transportation, our 32 miles of shoreline, our mild weather, the future Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay and our unique historical heritage, including Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical park.

Uche Uwahemu:

The issue of sustained economic development is an ongoing challenge to Richmond. We have struggled to attract and sustain good businesses, thus our revenue stream is suffering. I intend to expand the Port of Richmond into a more diverse global port, remove control from city council and establish Richmond Port Commission. I will work with WCCUSD to establish a modern technical high school in Richmond to begin to address the lack of skilled workforce and provide options to youth and adults looking to get trained to compete in 21st global market. Making Richmond a tech hub is important for our growth and reduced dependent on one corporation. I intend to establish a tech corridor with emphasis on startup

incubator and attracting existing businesses to make Richmond their home.


Richmond will head to the polls on Tuesday, November 4th. Please follow Richmond Confidential on Twitter – @riconfidential for up to date election coverage.


  1. Rodrick Satre on October 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I am unclear as to Nat Bates complaint that we “lost jobs” opportunity with Berkeley Lawrence Lab project. As far as has been reported, the City of Richmond did win that job and we beat out other competing cities to achieve that result. As Nat Bates states, “we lost.”

    This interview did not challenge by “fact finding” and instead let candidates express half truths and lies in order to spread the vitriol even futher.

    As to the casino’s backing the Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates the last go-around. I am intimately familiar with the Point Molate Project as I was the contracting Project Manager for the release and restoration of that property from the US Navy. I have a completely different recollection of events and did not tie that downfall of “UpStream Development” from this project.
    This paper should note that UpStream was unable to retain the “tribal nation” stautus of their selected group of Pomona Indians to run the casino. Harrah’s also went through an ownership change and the British based successor withdrew support for its own reasons.
    Mr. Bates has shifted the news to favor his view of what happened, but has failed to provide facts and dates to verify his statements.

    It may be worthwhile to investigate for fair and fact checked reporting.

    As to Doctor’s Medical Center: the City of Richmond as much as the surrounding communities such as El Sobrante, San Pablo, Pinole and El Cerrito would all like a “for profit” medical center. The former “Brookside Hospital” was purchased by investors with plans to run the money out and run out. The seismic failure of that hospital is the “elephant” in the room. Hospitals are required to be able to withstand a major earthquake. That Hospital is not prepared, and is financially obsolete due to the major ($150-250Million) required just to amour the structure. It may be time to establish a few smaller service hospitals as branches of other medical systems.

  2. […] Check out our forum on the mayoral candidates […]

  3. Don Gosney on October 30, 2014 at 12:40 am

    In 2010 when Measure U was on the ballot to approve a casino at Point Molate the card clubs with backing from Reno and Las Vegas spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting McLaughlin, Martinez, Beckles and Boozé. These were Independent Expenditures.

    I have thick binders with those mailers and photos of the billboards to back this up.

    Upstream’s downfall with their project is not what Candidate Bates was referring to. We need to read the words he wrote and not try to interpret anything more or less into them. What he wrote was “Incidentally, no one cried wolf when the past two elections saw big gaming dollars support of the Mayor and her progressive slate of candidates.”

    He did not say the “casinos backed the Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates”. He wrote about “big gaming dollars”–which mostly came from CARD CLUBS and not casinos–and he referred to a “progressive slate of candidates” and not specifically “richmond Progressive Alliance” candidates.

    The mailers these card clubs back up his statements about their support of these candidates and the billboards add to that. Before anyone demands that other claims be backed up with “facts and dates” perhaps the person making the demands should be asked to back up any claims that Candidate Bates actually made the statements being attributed to him. Wouldn’t that be the fair and prudent thing to do?

  4. […] more on the 2014 election, check out our forum with the mayoral candidates, and our forum with the city council […]

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