Will Nat Bates be Richmond’s next mayor?
on October 13, 2022
Richmond Confidential posed the same questions to mayoral candidates Nathaniel Bates, Shawn Dunning, Eduardo Martinez and Mark Wassberg. Their answers are being presented verbatim, in the order they were received, with light editing, where necessary, for brevity.
Today’s Q&A is with Nat Bates.
Where are you from, and how many years have you lived in Richmond?
My mother and I are from Texas, and at the age of 11, we moved to Richmond after the invasion of Pearl Harbor. Like many families from the South, California was chosen because of the golden opportunities of employment and it being less racially segregated. I attended public schools in Richmond and later received an [associate] degree from Contra Costa College, a [bachelor’s] degree from San Francisco State University and a Teachers Credential from Cal State University Hayward. My total years in Richmond represents some 80 years.
In no more than 200 words, why are you running for mayor?
Having been on the Council four decades and having been a part of the significant progress and positive growth over the years, it is painful to witness the deterioration of our values and our ability to continue to grow and prosper. The self-proclaimed Socialist and radical majority of Council members called RPA has created havoc. … They try to pit landlords against tenants and attack both large and small businesses. They have defunded our police department to an ineffective level of staffing while making this city vulnerable. All of this can be attributed to the RPA’s defunding of the police department from 195 staff to some 97 staff members within the past two years. As a retired Alameda County Probation Officer, … no candidate for mayor understands nor recognize the importance of a well trained and adequate number of police personnel to make and keep this city safe. The mere presence of the police beat officers … frequently becomes protection in and of itself. Therefore, I am a candidate for Mayor because with my experience, knowledge, dedication and proven ability to get things done at City Hall. This has led to my seeking to be Mayoral again, to right the ship in the City I call home and very much love.
What qualifies you for this job?
My qualifications consist of some four decades as a council member, having served twice as mayor and with experiences in working with county, regional, state as well as federal elected officials and staff. As mayor of Richmond, one should recognize that we are not an island, and it is important and beneficial to collaborate with elected officials and staff if Richmond is to become successful. By working with all phases within the governmental structure and having established positive personal relationships with elected officials from the White House, Congress, Sacramento and local elected officials.
What are your top three priorities if you become mayor, and what would you do to accomplish them?
As your Councilman, I have consistently fought against the attempts to defund the police. Violent crime and crimes against our most vulnerable have gone up as the Richmond Progressive Alliance has taken over the Council majority. Hate crimes, racial crimes, and sideshows have terrorized our community and neighborhoods. I will advocate that our firefighters and police be properly staffed, equipped and trained. Richmond had 199 officers and was recognized for its nationally proclaimed community policing program. Community policing works because it makes the police more visible and active and part of our community. This establishes strong relationships, then trust between our community members and law enforcement. The neighbors and the police are then more able to identify the problem areas and access what services are needed to address issues that they are more familiar with. We are now down to 97 active police officers, with much reduced units including Investigations and Homicide. The Gang and Narcotics Units were completely eliminated. We have a staffing and morale crisis which is unsafe and unsustainable. We need to promote a culture that recruits and retains the best.
My second priority is to develop a team to address the affordable housing issue. We need to build more units for all income levels. This additional supply and having different housing types will help provide available housing for our children and seniors so they can remain part of our Richmond community. As your mayor, I will pull together a team of experts and neighbors to develop a plan to acquire the many vacant lots throughout Richmond for construction of affordable housing. These vacant lots have often become an eyesore and dumping ground. With a quality developer the city can construct affordable homes, while eliminating the trash and debris on vacant lots. I would seek state and federal grants to keep the price of these homes more affordable. In addition, the same team could inventory the many boarded up homes and work with the owners to either renovate the homes or sell them to the city, where we would then renovate and place back on the market for sale.
My third priority is supporting economic development. Bringing more businesses into Richmond while retaining those we have. This includes cutting the red tape and fees that make it more expensive for all of us. The Mayor must respect small and larger businesses and appreciate the significant contributions each of them make to our city. The RPA has created an anti-business climate in which businesses are seriously considering leaving the city. Our city needs to retain our current businesses and attract new businesses which will create more good paying jobs.
What is the first big issue you would tackle?
Again, the top priority is public safety. Throughout this nation and perhaps the world, people want to feel safe in their communities. Of all of the services provided by our government, the number one demand is and will always be public safety. Whenever we are threatened by law violators, the public demands the police. No one calls for a librarian, recreation leader or public works employee, they call for assistance from the police department. The same goes for the Fire Department. Whenever there is a need due to a fire, fall, heart attack or other life saving medical need, they need the fire department immediately.
What do you want people to know about you and your campaign?
I am proud of our campaign in that we have and will not use fear tactics, nor will we attack our opponents with untrue statements, meaning we will run a campaign that presents factual information and not deal with personalities. I respect each of the candidates and have gotten to know them on a personal level. I have worked with Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez for eight years and have found him to be a very kind and pleasant individual of which we share the same love for the City of Richmond. Although we see things philosophically different, he is committed to how he feels the directions of Richmond should be moving. Mr. Shawn Dunning sort of reminds me of myself when I was younger. He is educated, full of energy, enthusiastic and communicates well with the community. Mr. Mark Wassberg has for years been involved in the political area in Richmond and shows compassion for the city. To each of them, I wish them good tidings.
Finally, as the electorate exercise their choice for mayor on Nov. 8, 2022, obviously I trust they will select me. However, in the event I am not elected as the city’s next mayor, I bear no ill feeling and will congratulate whomever the electorate select, and always pull for the best for Richmond. As an athlete and recent inductee into the Saskatchewan Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I learned early in the game that there will always be winners and losers and that no one wins every game they play regardless of how good they may be. I have been blessed beyond my wildest expectations by God with longevity, excellent health, a loving family and tons of friends plus financial security more so than most. Whatever occurs on Nov. 8, win or lose, I will never, ever look back but will appreciate the love and support I have received over the years from the people and City of Richmond, the only home I know and love.
Coming Tuesday, a Q&A with Mark Wassberg.
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