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Ahmad Anderson, a city council candidate for Richmond district 5.

Richmond’s native son strives to continue legacy

on September 30, 2020

Civic duty and civil rights are old companions for Ahmad Anderson, a Richmond native, is the son of two former mayors. His father, Booker T. Anderson sat on the city council and served as mayor from 1973 to 1974. His mother, Irma Anderson, took her turn as mayor of Richmond from 2001 to 2006.

This is Anderson’s third attempt in the political arena. In 1985, at just 25, Anderson made a run for the Richmond City Council and lost by 400 votes. Then, he ran for the District 7 Bart Board in 1992 and lost that race by 129 votes. Far from being devastated, Anderson says he still served the community by talking about the issues they cared about.

“To run is courageous,” Anderson said. “So you have to get right with yourself, there is no second place there is no third place – the winner wins. The process of running allows you to give a voice for the people.”

District 5 encompasses an area that includes Laurel Park, which is where the candidate makes his home. Anderson says his focus is on educating constituents who are not knowledgeable about the newly formed district. 

“Richmond is a black sheep city,” Anderson said. “It is looked upon as urban blight, but it has one of the most beautiful parks and shorelines in the bay area.”

Michael Bush, a CEO and owner of an Oakland consulting firm called Great Place to Work, has been friends with Anderson for 45 years.

“He has always lived in Richmond because he loves it,” Bush said. “His family has always worked to make it better. He will do the same. Ahmad Anderson is Richmond and has been since the day he was born.”   

Anderson understood at a young age why Black lives matter. He recalls that Dr. Martin Luther King stayed at his family’s home on 55th Street, a month before he was assassinated.

“I think I grew up a little bit more mature than most of my peers because of my father’s relationship with Martin Luther King,” Anderson said. “My insider education to the world of civil unrest was really at my doorstep and in almost every conversation we had around the dinner table.”

Cal Alumni, Ahmad Anderson chats with a Richmond resident. Anderson is running for a seat in the District 5 City Council.
Cal Alumni, Ahmad Anderson chats with former Richmond City Council member Maria Viramontes. Anderson is running for a seat in the District 5 City Council.

Andy Bark, another longtime friend, has known Anderson since their undergraduate days at the University of California, Berkeley where they met at a fraternity event. He says he noticed early on that Anderson had the unique ability to fit into any social situation.

“He is so inclusive,” Bark said. “I’ve been exposed to all types of settings – social and business – with a lot of different people … He can lead, he can relate to everyone in the room.”

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