Eduardo Martinez wins Richmond mayor’s race
on November 9, 2022
Eduardo Martinez became the first elected Latino mayor of Richmond on Tuesday, inching past runner-up Shawn Dunning by fewer than a thousand votes in the city’s mayoral election.
Martinez, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, has been a City Council member for nearly eight years.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, with the night’s final unofficial results freshly posted, Martinez said he felt great.
“There’s a lot of work to be done over the next few years and I need to assemble a team to get on it,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of great people to choose from who are willing to work with me. And I also think I need to reach out to my opponents and bring them to the table.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Dunning had said that win or lose, he was optimistic about the future. A conflict resolution consultant, he said his campaign had succeeded in building “a lot of momentum towards collaborative leadership” in the city, so he did not feel he was losing either way.
Not far behind Martinez and Dunning in the mayoral race was Nat Bates, who has been involved in city politics since 1967 and served as mayor twice. The loss takes him off the City Council.
“The people have made their decision, and I respect that,” he said Wednesday.
While Martinez received 36.07% of the vote on election night, Dunning secured 30.12% and Bates got 29.56. Candidate Mark Wassberg was a distant fourth.
Martinez will replace Mayor Tom Butt when Butt’s second-term expires in January, ending 28 years in office. As Tom Butt exits politics, his son Andrew will enter it as a new member of thee City Council.
Andrew Butt beat Cesar Zepeda 1,176 votes to 1,027 votes in City Council District 2.
“The effort in terms of campaigning was done days, weeks and months ago,” Andrew Butt said on Tuesday evening, ahead of the results.
In a tight District 3 race, RPA-backed Doria Robinson won with 605 votes, while former council member Courtland ”Corky” Booze got 555 votes and Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council President Oscar Garcia received 506.
Robinson could not be reached for comment.
Booze had been hoping for a return to City Council after eight years. “I truly believe the controlling powers are afraid of me getting back in office because of my independent thinking and working for those who have no voice,” he said earlier on Tuesday.
“When you’re fighting the big boys and the big money, sometimes your message doesn’t get across,” he added.
Meanwhile, Garcia had predicted the results would be neck and neck in District 3. He said turnout is usually low in the district and, therefore, every vote mattered.
In District 4, community activist Soheila Bana won a landslide victory against small business owner and artist Jamin Pursell. She received 2,494 votes while RPA-endorsed Pursell secured 1,166. Both Bana and Pursell had spent Election Day campaigning.
The 2022 election has tipped the Richmond City Council’s balance of power further in favor of the RPA, with the group maintaining four council positions and picking up the mayor’s seat.
Election night results are all unofficial until the vote is certified days after the election. While all precincts had reported by 12:30 a.m., the county had yet to tabulate all the mail-ins, which had to be postmarked by Tuesday.
Update: After all votes were counted, the District 2 council race ended in a tie, which led to an unusual tie-breaker on Dec. 6 in which the winner’s name was picked out of a bag. Zepeda emerged victorious.
Reporter Jule Hermann contributed to this story.
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