As we noted in our story last week about this year’s Richmond City Council campaign, Chevron is spending millions of dollars in an effort to retake control of city government. And so we strongly urge Richmond voters to reject this power grab, and to elect councilmembers who will stand up to the oil giant and work to protect our environment. We also think that since Chevron lost control over the council several years ago, the city’s progressive leadership has been instrumental in turning city government around: Richmond is no longer beset by public corruption, crime is down substantially, and the city’s once-troubled police department is now a national model of reform.
As a result, for the three four-year council seats in this year’s election, we wholeheartedly endorse the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) slate of candidates: Gayle McLaughlin, who is being termed out of the mayor’s office this year and is seeking a spot on the council; Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, who is running for another four-year term; and Eduardo Martinez, a longtime educator who barely missed out on winning a council seat two years ago. We think McLaughlin, Beckles, and Eduardo Martinez will help Richmond continue its renaissance and will support Police Chief Chris Magnus’ reform efforts.
However, if the RPA is a bit too liberal for you (and you’re not pro-Chevron), then we urge you to vote for moderate incumbent Jim Rogers. He’s a much better choice than the oil company’s candidates, Charles Ramsey and Donna Powers. Last week, Chevron backed away from its support of a third candidate, Al Martinez, after the Express published a report on his indictment on corruption charges when he was a Richmond cop.
In the race for the two-year council seat, we strongly endorse incumbent Jael Myrick, who has turned out to be a terrific addition to the council since the council majority appointed him to the post two years ago. By contrast, we think his competitor, Councilmember Corky Boozé, is unfit for office. Boozé is a scofflaw who has operated a blight-infested junkyard in the city and regularly turns council meetings into circus-like affairs with race-baiting rhetoric and repeated attacks on his colleagues. Boozé also is closely associated with a group of bigots who hurl homophobic slurs at Beckles, the council’s first openly gay councilmember. In short, Boozé is an embarrassment to the city of Richmond.
We feel nearly as much contempt for incumbent AC Transit At-Large board director Joel Young. As we noted in 2012, Young was ensnared in a domestic violence case involving his then-girlfriend, in which a judge openly doubted Young’s version of what happened. Then, Young’s board colleagues censured him after he accessed AC Transit’s private legal documents in order to further a separate legal case that he was working for his own personal law practice. As such, we’re amazed that the Alameda Labor Council nearly endorsed Young this year for reelection and effectively dissuaded two qualified candidates from running against Young. And we applaud the leadership of SEIU for blocking that endorsement. We also think that longtime AC Transit bus driver Dollene Jones is a much better choice than Young, and we endorse her because she will bring a much-needed perspective to the board.
By contrast, the Oakland city auditor’s race presents a tougher choice for us. As we said previously, we wish current city auditor, Courtney Ruby, were seeking reelection, instead of running for mayor — an office that she simply can’t win (she’s running in seventh or eighth place, depending on the poll). And the two candidates vying to replace her have much less experience. But we’re giving the slight nod to Brenda Roberts, mostly because we think her competitor, Len Raphael, has been too combative and too political over the years, especially considering the fact that he helped run the ridiculous 2012 recall campaign against Mayor Jean Quan.
In San Leandro, we’re endorsing Councilmember Pauline Russo Cutter for mayor. Her main competitor, Councilmember Diana Souza, is too conservative for us, and we strongly disagree with Souza’s opposition to allowing medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. In the District One council race, we’re strongly endorsing progressive school board member Mike Katz-Lacabe. And in the District Five council contest, we’re encouraging voters to elect school board member Corina Lopez.
In Emeryville, we strongly endorse Measures U and V, which would turn Emeryville into a charter city for the purposes of establishing a real estate transfer tax to pay for police, fire, libraries, parks, and other essential services. Oakland, Berkeley, and other East Bay cities already have similar tax measures in place.
In terms of statewide ballot measures, we’re urging “no” votes on Propositions 1 and 2, because both of them contain poison pill provisions. Prop 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, includes $2.7 billion in funds for “surface” and underground water storage projects. “Surface” is a code word for building dams and reservoirs, and we think that such environmentally destructive projects are outdated and unnecessary. They’re also going to be constructed for the benefit of large agricultural interests that grow water-intensive crops in the arid San Joaquin Valley — a practice that we think should end. Moreover, dams and reservoirs are not going to help alleviate the drought, as Governor Jerry Brown claims.
We oppose Prop 2, the state’s rainy day fund measure, because it would force most local school districts, including Oakland’s, to dramatically shrink their rainy day reserves, thereby putting them in financial peril during economic downturns. We have yet to hear a good argument from the governor or other Prop 2 supporters about why they inserted this onerous provision into an otherwise worthy ballot measure.
And we’re endorsing Proposition 45, because we think it’s a smart idea for the state to regulate health insurance prices like it does auto and homeowners’ insurance policies. Healthcare premiums have skyrocketed by more than 180 percent since 2002, and health insurance company revenues have soared right along with them. It’s long past time for Californians to enact this smart reform.