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People of Richmond

People of Richmond: With the RPA now in charge, what’s in store for the city?

on December 15, 2022

People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.

Q: With the Richmond Progressive Alliance gaining a super-majority on City Council, what do you think the future holds for Richmond?

People of Richmond
Vanessa Calloway

“Although it is a RPA majority, they are still individuals. I don’t want to do to them what a lot of people have done to the African American and Latino community, box us all into one category. From history, it hasn’t been a benefit for Richmond. I am hoping for a better Richmond. I am hoping for a less politicized Richmond and a more humanized Richmond. I believe that that couldn’t be done just with the City Council, it has to be the natives of Richmond and those that are living here. I believe that the community of Richmond is stronger than just our City Council. My hope for the City Council, the mayor, moving forward for the city of Richmond is that we can see some true leadership. Leadership that we would want our young people to follow. I am a firm believer that we must lead by example. I want us as a community to get back to what we are built on, pride and purpose.” (Vanessa Calloway, Castro Encampment resolution project manager)

People of Richmond
Ellen Seskin

“I don’t think a super majority is going to make that much of a difference in what they do — fortunately and unfortunately, it depends on how you feel about it. I used to be a huge fan of the RPA and as time went on, I got to know more about them; I really cooled on it. What I realize now is that they have an agenda. Whether you believe in the agenda they have or not, when they become a city councilperson they are supposed to vote on that agenda by their steering committee. They vote on the issues and then they say, this is how they’re going to vote on them. Theoretically we are voting for someone from our neighborhood to represent us.” (Ellen Seskin)

People of Richmond
Don Gosney

“We have already seen, even though they don’t yet have a super-majority, that they have decided to go Mitch McConnell on us. ‘We are in charge, you can’t do anything unless you get our approval for it. You want to appoint people, even though you have a legal right to do that, we are not going to listen.’ They are already demonstrating that. They already talk about the exit they are going to do, kicking people off of committees that disagree with them. They want only people who think like them. That’s not a good way to run the city, that’s not a good way to build community. It bothers me when you get people from the RPA that from over the years have said the people have spoken. How can you say that you’ve spoken for the people when you’ve never spoken with the people?” (Don Gosney, retired union president)

People of Richmond
Alphonso Thompson

“To start, I didn’t know about the progressive alliance, but my hope is whoever the new board or council will be looking out for the people’s interests, so we can have a voice. Because if you pay attention, in the Anglo-Saxon community, they go to the community meetings and say their problems — with my child’s school, my street, my community — and make their voice heard. But not us. And our community is the one that needs the most help.” (Alphonso Thompson, entrepreneur)

People of Richmond
Luisa Madrigal

“Even though I don’t know too much about them, if they’re progressive it’s a good sign towards what they stand for. I think with the things they’ve already done, it just shows they are for making the community better, and I support that, especially raising the minimum wage.” (Luisa Madrigal, director of photography)

People of Richmond: What do you love about your city?


  1. RS on December 15, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    It’s widely known that Ellen and Don hate RPA with the heat of a thousand suns. They have no reasons for it other than, well, they are old and white and prefer the Butt way of doing things — dishonestly and not in their backyards.

    The others you interviewed seem to have little to no knowledge of what RPA even is. Perhaps as journalists you could inform the public? Ellen and Don make their positions quite clear on a regular basis on social media, so not sure why they were interviewed here. It’s like asking Trump his thoughts on the election he lost; we all know what he’ll say, so why bother asking?

  2. Don Gosney on December 17, 2022 at 5:17 am

    When this story was reposted on social media, one of our neighbors (a very loose description) wrote “Old, white, and bitter is no way to go through life.”

    So, the ethnicity of a person or their age should be a disqualified from having an opinion?

  3. Jacob on December 24, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Absolutely nothing will progress with RPA in power. They are anti business, anti enforcement and anti anything that will bring Richmond back to prosperity.

  4. Phillip Mehas on December 28, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    The RPA is an organization made up of Richmond residents and Richmond voters. Membership wise perhaps similar to the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce or the 23rd Street Merchants or one of the many churches in Richmond. They all have a voice they all have a vote. The FACT that the citizens of Richmond continue to elect Richmond residents who are also members of the RPA must say something about the direction the voters want to go in.
    They have voted to leave behind the Butt era of illegitimacy and egotistical personal politics and move Richmond forward with progressive people-oriented ideas,
    decisions and policies.
    Although Ellen and Don may have regressive ideas about the direction they might take Richmond I still respect their involvement in the discussions. And, I am old, white and progressive.

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