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About RPA | 2014 Richmond City Elections

Beyond Chron on Chevron Smears

Chevron Sounds Alarm Against East Bay “Anarchism”

by Steve Early

One of the great things about living near Chevron’s big East Bay refinery—yes, the one that caught fire and exploded two years ago—is its system of early warnings about new disasters about to befall Richmond.

In our post-Citizens United era, the nation’s second largest oil producer is now free to spend $1.6 million (or more, if necessary) on direct mail and phone alerts, designed to keep 30,000 likely voters fully informed about threats to their city.

During the last week, glossy mailers from a Chevron-funded group called “Moving Forward” have been flowing our way, at the rate of one or two per day—almost seven weeks before Election Day.

And, then, just to make sure that Chevron’s urgent message is getting through, we’ve also been called by pollsters. They claim to be surveying opinion about Richmond politics, but actually just recite the contents of these same Moving Forward mailers over the phone.

My favorite manifestation of this negative campaigning involves a Latino candidate for Richmond City council. His name is Eduardo Martinez and remembering the Eduardo part is important. By some strange coincidence, Moving Forward—the Chevron-backed “Coalition of Labor Unions, Small Businesses, Public Safety and Firefighters Associations”—is backing another Martinez for city council whose first name is Al and who is apparently not a public safety threat.

Continue to the full Beyond Chron article.

From KPFA’s Up Front, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014

Richmond Today and Tomorrow

In this wide-ranging, half-hour discussion (at 33:35 in KPFA's archive), guest-host Marie Choi asks Mike Parker and Andrés Soto about why Mike withdrew from the mayoral race, Chevron's candidates, the role of social movements, the status and future of Chevron's refinery, progressive strategy, our opposition, the main issue in the 2014 race, and beyond.

Marie Choi: As November elections approach, we're turning our attention to Richmond, California, where the Richmond Progressive Alliance is battling oil-giant Chevron for control of the City Council. For many of us outside of Richmond, the RPA has been an example of what's possible when an independent grassroots organization gains council seats and pushes through a progressive agenda. Through a combination of grassroots-mobilization and holding key council positions, the RPA and its allies have won major concessions from Chevron, defended homeowners from bank foreclosures, and changed the city's approach to policing. We're talking this morning with Mike Parker and Andrés Soto, they are members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Mike was until recently a mayoral candidate for Richmond, California.

Continue to the full transcript.

An Interview with Mayor Gayle

Political Decisions from the Heart

by Robert "Han" Bishop

How did Richmond go from being a Chevron company town to the most progressive city in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Why is it so difficult for politicians to make decisions from the heart, even ones who are well-meaning?

Why is the upcoming election critical in preventing Chevron manipulation of the democratic process, and returning Richmond to the past where Chevron always gets what they want, regardless of public safety concerns and increased environmental pollution?

What does it mean to raise human consciousness as a public official?

These and other important issues are addressed in my (16 min) interview with Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, California.

More Video Showing How Wrong Bates is for Richmond

Nat Bates Promotes Drivers License Check Points that Target Latinos

Richmond used to be noted for its murder. Now it is noted for how it has reduced violence. Mayoral candidate Nat Bates's main program for safety is to return the city to the policies that build distrust between the largest ethnic group in the city (40% Latino) and the police. Bates is the Chevron candidate for Mayor, who has enabled hate-speech at Council meetings.

"That Wily Corporation"

What Could Chevron be Up To?

by Patsy Byers

The SF Weekly recently published a profile of one of the chief "spin doctors" for Chevron, Sam Singer, which gives insights into his methods of damage-control and opinion-shaping. With the August 6, 2012 explosion and fire at the Chevron Richmond refinery, he was probably busy before the first patient had been seen at Doctors Medical Center.

In contrast to Singer, Albany resident John Irminger displayed this understanding of Chevron's operations, published as a letter to the editor on Wednesday in the El Cerrito Journal (emphasis added):

"In addition to financing the campaigns of local politicians, Chevron does million-dollar sweet things all over the East Bay. So people love Chevron.

"But, that wily corporation then finagles hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and property devaluations that primarily affect the ability of local governments to fulfill the needs of their constituents.

"Chevron's strategy ensures it always has some friendly politicians, and that prominent and influential people, especially in charities and education, are dependent on Chevron for their programs. Thus, they (understandably) sing the praises of their benefactor.

"These are the tentacles of power -- pulling us the wrong way.

"Let's not forget that Chevron's primary motivation is to make money by refining increasingly toxic oil sources, and is spending billions to do this. This is not planet—or life—friendly energy investment..."

A recent Buzzflash for Truthout article nicely fleshes out the premise of its title: "Chevron: Global Bandit, Local Bully," but its concluding paragraphs show a stunning lack of awareness by the local media people it cites:

"As KQED's Tara Siler and Molly Samuel recently observed: 'What, exactly, is coming up on Chevron's agenda in Richmond is an open question.'

"The Contra Costa Times' Robert Rogers told KQED that 'The modernization plan was a major hurdle, and Chevron passed it. What they foresee as being an issue in which their interests could perhaps be decided by the council is relatively unknown.'"

Have they forgotten the lawsuit the City of Richmond has brought against Chevron for damages, including the August 6th disaster? I bet Chevron and Sam Singer remember it. Isn't it likely that City Council will be making decisions about that in the next 4 years? Wouldn't it be a whole lot more profitable for Chevron to have a council that's comfortable with Richmond once again being a company town? With councilmembers who are themselves in the role of dependents, colluding to undermine legitimate public power?

Let's elect a city council that is willing to challenge the power plays of Chevron! Let's get a council that will implement the life-friendly suggestion with which John Irminger concluded his letter: "If cloudy, high-latitude Germany makes solar its priority, the sunny United States surely can also."

SF Chronicle on "the Chevron Candidates"

Chevron Pouring Money into Richmond Election

by Chip Johnson

Chevron, the city's main employer and taxpayer, is also the biggest spender on political campaigns - it set aside $1.6 million in a political action committee called Moving Forward that supports the oil giant's favorite City Council and mayoral candidates.

Let me repeat: $1.6 million. For local elections in a city of a little over 106,000 residents...

Despite all the money thrown around by this corporate giant, it's clear not all of Richmond's residents are so easily swayed by swag. But that's not stopping Chevron from trying to influence the outcome of a city election.

Change is coming to Richmond, slow but steady. Crime is way down, development is on the way up, and the city needs to shed its historical reputation as a "company" town.

Continue to the full SF Chronicle article.

Surpassing Our Goal: Over 1,000 Homes

Richmond Rising a Rousing Success

Get your own nifty Team Richmond t-shirt, exclusively available to our canvassers.
Richmond is Rising! Team Richmond smashed through its goal of knocking on over 1,000 doors. In a single day, we knocked on over 1,130! With over 50 volunteers, including 25 canvassing with us for the first time, we met many supporters and convinced new ones along the way. And it's fun! Together, we show that an organized community has the power to make its voice heard.

Thanks to all of our volunteers for their amazing efforts in support of a progressive Richmond, many of whom joined in from the Sunflower Alliance or the Our Power national convening. Reports say the after-party was good food, good jazz (featuring Andrés Soto on saxophone), and a good time!

The next all-day mass-mobilization canvassing event will be on Saturday, Sept. 6, 9:30am, at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave, near Harbour.

Or sign up here for our regular Canvasser Workshop, Saturdays at 3pm, also at the BBPC.

Volunteers Needed to Help Coordinate Canvassing

Maintain the Momentum of Richmond Rising

by Janet Johnson

Right now we need volunteers for two projects:

  1. Data entry
    We held a successful and inspiring canvassing event last Saturday, and we need to get the information into our software database to follow up with our supporters. We'll train you, help you get started, and be on tap to answer your questions.
  2. Phoning
    We need to call Team Richmond supporters to recruit them for the next big event in early September. Our campaign's secret ingredient is its volunteer canvassers, folks going door-to-door to talk with voters about the issues. We need to keep working to enlarge this amazing team of dedicated volunteers.

Won't you help us win our campaign for a better Richmond? Many hands make light work, and the work we do now will send ripples far beyond our town. Please join us! Email us and let us know when you're available.

Chevron Candidates Revealed

Chevron Starts with $1.6 Million to Buy City Council

by Mike Parker

Chevron has already given $1.6 Million to its campaign organization to elect Chevron's favored candidates: Nat Bates as mayor and Charles Ramsey, Donna Powers, and Al Martinez to the Richmond City Council.

Here is the official filing. Chevron has already laid out $63,000 for the first phase of a billboard blitz.

These candidates will all doubtless thank Chevron while insisting that they are independent and have offered Chevron nothing in exchange. Sure.

SF Chronicle on "Anybody but Bates"

United Front Against Bates

by Chip Johnson

Try "Anybody but Bates" - as in Richmond councilman Nat Bates, who is running for mayor.

Bates, 82, is a longtime political presence in Richmond, a walking, talking anachronism who has held office, not continuously, since 1967, including two stints as mayor in the late 1970s.

In the opinion of his rivals, a Bates victory represents a step back in time - and in the wrong direction.

So on Friday, Richmond Progressive Alliance candidate Mike Parker withdrew his candidacy and veteran City Council member Tom Butt announced his mayoral campaign. Uche Uwahemu, a local business owner, is also running for the seat.

The concern among the city's political leaders is that if Parker and Butt split the city's liberal vote, it could provide an opportunity for Bates to win - and both Butt and Parker believe that is something that must be prevented.

Continue to the full SF Chronicle article.

Concentrating our Energies toward Progressive Governance

Mike Parker Withdraws from Mayoral Race

After five months of vigorous campaigning for the office of Richmond Mayor, I am withdrawing from the race. A few days before the final filing deadline, I learned that Tom Butt had decided to enter the race.

My supporters and I determined that in this race the progressive vote would likely be split. We decided my time is better spent campaigning for our team of progressive candidates for the Richmond City Council, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Gayle McLaughlin.

Taken together Gayle, Eduardo, and Jovanka, and the many campaign supporters behind them, represent a different kind of politics, based on organized people-power—not on corporate power.

I am still an active part of “Team Richmond.” I will work very hard to continue the progress we have made in Richmond and to elect members of the Council who support the fight for Doctors Hospital, a cleaner and safer refinery, jobs for Richmond, and rebuilding our system of public education through community involvement. We need to challenge the Chevron candidates and those unwilling to stand up against Chevron when representing the community.

In the course of this campaign, I have met and been inspired by many wonderful Richmond residents. I thank all those volunteers, unions, and community organizations who have endorsed me and especially those volunteers who worked so hard to make my campaign an exciting grass roots effort. I know we can continue the same spirit and energy to make Team Richmond a success.

In gratitude and solidarity
Mike Parker

Jovanka Beckles Profiled in the SF Chronicle

Councilwoman Perseveres through Taunts, Rants and Homophobic Slurs

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

by Carolyn Jones

Mark Wassberg took to the podium, wagged his finger at the Richmond City Council and said:

"I'm going to keep coming up here and tell you how gays have no morality... You're filth. You're dirt. Because I have the constitutional right to say it."

The comments during a July meeting of the council were directed at Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, the city's first openly lesbian councilwoman. She sighed and listened impassively. After all, she'd heard it all before. For four years.

Continue to the full article.

Mike Parker Comments

While we need to protect free speech, we need to also make it clear that there is no support for the enablers and apologists for this kind of hate speech. My opponent for Mayor, Councilmember Nat Bates, regularly gives support to Wassberg and others and attacks Mayor McLaughlin when she tries to establish order.

A Richmonder Speaks Truth to Power at SFGate

Slick Chevron Campaign to Control Richmond

by David Helvarg

If the Supreme Court is right that corporations are people and money is free speech, then Chevron is the biggest loudmouth in Richmond, where I live.

When people think of unlimited campaign spending, they tend to think of national elections, but the most insidious impacts may be taking place at the state and municipal levels. I know Chevron contributes to our local economy because it disbursed more than $2 million in city election campaign money since 2010, or roughly $50 each on me and every other registered voter in our small city of 106,000. The company provides jobs not only at its sprawling Richmond oil refinery but also for public relations, printers and a private detective who was hired a few years ago to smear the mayor.

Chevron wants to get rid of our Green Party mayor and progressive City Council majority because they've challenged the company on property taxes and pollution. That's why in 2012 Chevron spent $422,000 backing a single candidate for one of the seven council seats that pays $16,830 a year. The company wants to return to the days when the council majority was known as the "Chevron 5."

Continue to the full SFGate article.

Add Your Own Endorsement Today

Recent Endorsements for Team Richmond

Recently Team Richmond has received endorsements from these fine folks:

The one from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club is notable since it's the first time they've supported a slate that is not affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Read about ILWU support for the Maritime Union of Australia in their battle against Chevron's attacks on labor, including their recent meeting with Gayle McLaughlin and Mike Parker.

If you have not already done so, please add your name to the list of endorsers for Team Richmond candidates: Mike Parker for Mayor, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Gayle McLaughlin for City Council. Send us a brief e-mail with "Endorse Team Richmond" in the subject line. Include your full name, city of residence, and any affiliation or title you would like to include (for identification purposes only). It's free and easy. Your taking this step to support Team Richmond will really be appreciated. Thank you!

Team Richmond Needs More Canvassers

Encouragement from an Active Canvasser

by Jeanne Kortz

The Progressives have changed Richmond for the better. I cannot imagine what will happen to Richmond if Nat Bates, Chevron’s candidate for mayor, or Charles Ramsey, the corporate special interests’ candidate, wins. Richmond will fall back to the dark ages of corporate cronyism. Nat Bates consistently supports Chevron and other corporate interests over community interests, and he will have the advantage of Chevron’s billboards, TV ads and mailers. Charles Ramsey wants Richmond to be another Silicon Valley, a poster child for income and housing inequality with the cost of living skyrocketing. His campaign has the deep pockets of the building trades (Chevron’s “Modernization” Project with pollution increases intact) and other special interest groups.

The Richmond Progressive Alliance and the Team Richmond candidates don’t have those kinds of deep pockets. What we have is people power which we need to utilize by getting supporters out to canvass their neighborhoods. I’ve had the pleasure of canvassing with Mike Parker, our progressive candidate for Mayor, a number of times over the past two months. The canvassing has been a wonderful, positive experience. People are very receptive to our cause, especially if you tell them that the Team Richmond candidates take no corporate donations, and are beholden only to the citizens of Richmond.

I realize that some of you might feel somewhat intimidated by canvassing. I felt that way myself, but once I experienced the openness and friendliness of most people who answer their doors, I was no longer intimated, but enthusiastic and hopeful.

I want to encourage everyone who cares about the Richmond election in November to get out and canvass for our progressive candidates. Richmond is better now, and we must continue with the positive changes that have been made possible by our progressive majority on the city council.

Please consider canvassing your neighborhood, or coming to canvass with a Richmond resident if you are from a neighboring town. Team Richmond holds canvasser trainings to get people started at 11am every 2nd Saturday and every 4th Sunday of the month at the RPA office on Macdonald. You can sign up through the Team Richmond canvassing page. Your contribution as a canvasser will really make a difference in this important election and ensure that Richmond continues to improve.

Thank you!

—Jeanne Kortz, Richmond Resident and RPA Member

If you are interested in canvassing or have questions about it, please contact Alex Early by phone: 617-816-4260 or by email:

Trained or experienced canvassers who would like to walk with Team Richmond candidates Mike Parker (for Mayor) or Eduardo Martinez (for City Council) may choose a convenient day, usually from 4-6pm, by signing up here.

Don’t Miss this Article in The Nation

RPA Making History

Journalist, author, and Richmonder Steve Early raises our struggle to national attention.

Can Big Oil Retake Richmond?

In 2006, California progressives won control of City Hall. Now Chevron and its allies are spending plenty to get it back.

What We Lack in Capital We’ll Make Up in Creativity

If I Had a Billboard

If I Had a Billboard

And we do have a classic billboard at 23rd & Garvin. Check it out!

Help Wanted: Team Richmond is Looking for

Photographers, Calendar & Housing Coordinators

Join our team of photographers. We could publish a list of events we know candidates will attend from which team photographers could choose according to their own schedules. That way we could capture the candidates in action for publication in print and social media.

Point and shoot, camera phone, high tech expensive camera? No matter. They all take fine photographs for our purposes. Then, all you would do is email the photos in. Photo credits given, if you like.

If interested, please contact

Calendar coordinator: We need someone who will keep track of events where our candidates and campaign volunteers need to speak or hand out literature. The work can be done from home, largely through email.

Housing coordinator: Help place out-of-area campaign volunteers with volunteer hosts.

If you’re interested in either coordinator job, please call Mike Parker at 510-334-3001, or email him at

Quick, Easy and Free!

Endorse Team Richmond Now

As you know, 2014 is going to be a super important election here in Richmond, if we want to keep the progressive momentum going and keep building on the good things happening in recent years. You’ve probably noticed how Chevron is already spending tons of money on PR…

Here’s a free and easy way to show support for Team Richmond. Your endorsement is valuable and will make a difference! Please let us know if you endorse the Team Richmond candidates: Mike Parker for Mayor and Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez and Gayle McLaughlin for City Council.

Simply send a brief email to, with “endorse Team Richmond” in the subject line. Include your full name, city of residence, and any affiliation or title you would like to include (affiliation is for identification purposes only).

Thank you. It only takes a moment and will be greatly appreciated!

Misinformation from Chevron Canvassers

by Daniel Goodwin

Open Letter to Chevron


I'm a longtime homeowner, here in Richmond. On Monday afternoon, a canvasser wearing a Richmond Proud t-shirt and distributing cards bearing your email address introduced himself by saying he's working for FieldWorks "under a joint contract from the City of Richmond and Chevron" to educate voters about the refinery modernization project.

It seems unlikely that the City would be co-sponsoring a Chevron canvasser, so I immediately pressed him on this joint-contract claim: "You mean the City of Richmond is financially supporting this?"

"That's what they told us," the canvasser replied. This wasn't an offhand claim: it was the first thing he said, and he clarified that he was told to say it.

On Monday evening, I emailed inquiries about this to you, and to Lina Velasco, Senior Planner with the City of Richmond Planning Division. I've heard nothing back from you, but Velasco's response was quite prompt and informative: "The City of Richmond is not sponsoring Richmond Proud. I have followed up with Chevron and have asked them to investigate this issue so that misinformation is not being given."

The Richmond Proud website says "Almost everyone we’ve talked to has underscored the importance of sharing all the refinery modernization facts... All questions and comments are welcome." But the City is concerned about Chevron spreading "misinformation," not facts, and you ignore my questions.

Mike Parker, the mayoral candidate on the Team Richmond slate, has asked me to post an account of this incident online. So this is an open letter, and you have another chance to either answer or ignore my questions. Surely the canvassing firm Chevron hired knows with whom they signed a contract. Why would they deliberately mislead voters about this, on Chevron's behalf?


Appeal to Richmond Residents

Have you experienced similar encounters with Chevron's Richmond Proud or 4Richmond neighborhood or telephone canvassers? Please don't get frustrated with the canvassers; they're bright young folks just trying to make a living, and someday they'll be on our side. You can help by sharing your story with your neighbors. Call us at 510-412-2260 or write to to tell us about it.

Mike Parker enters the race for Mayor; Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, and Planning Commissioner Eduardo Martinez to run for City Council seats

Team of Candidates for Richmond 2014 City Council will continue decade of progress under Mayor McLaughlin

February 13, 2014 – Richmond, CA

Richmond is Better Now; Let’s Build on a Decade of Progress” is the theme promoted by a progressive team of candidates for Richmond City Council, announced today.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin (limited by City Charter to two consecutive terms as Mayor) will run for a City Council seat, along with Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, and Planning Commissioner Eduardo MartinezMike Parker will seek the office of Mayor.

Team RichmondNicknamed, “Team Richmond,” the four candidates are united in their commitment to continue and expand Richmond’s remarkable transformation during a decade of progressive policies spearheaded by McLaughlin.  The team is also dedicated to standing strong for Richmond residents in the City’s dealings with the Chevron Corporation, demanding safety, transparency and accountability from the oil giant as plans are negotiated for major repairs and a renewal project for the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

The four candidates support a modernization of the refinery so that the devastating explosion of August 6, 2012, never happens again.  The team calls for:  repairs and renovations that will take place soon to ensure community safety; a project that will provide jobs for Richmond residents; and a significant and measurable annual reduction of the pollution emitted from the refinery.

Mayor McLaughlin
Long characterized by poverty, homicide, and industrial pollution, Richmond began a grassroots renaissance with McLaughlin’s election to the City Council in 2004.  Since then, policies and initiatives focused on sustainable growth, community health, income equity, and clean energy have gained Richmond national attention as a city willing to adopt bold and innovative solutions to chronic problems.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, now completing her second term as Richmond Mayor, will ask voters to elect her to the City Council.  During her tenure as Mayor, homicide rates have been cut by 66 percent; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab chose Richmond for its second campus; Chevron was pressured into agreeing to a $114 million tax settlement; and the City’s community survey shows residents are experiencing increased quality of life and City services.

Mike Parker Mike Parker, an educator and former industrial electrician in the automotive industry, is running for the office of Mayor.  A lead organizer of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Parker has a long history as an advocate for organized labor, civil rights, and other social justice issues. He is actively involved in efforts to stop foreclosures and reduce blight, and to set a livable minimum wage in Richmond.  Parker, an instructor in an electrical technologies program, serves on the Richmond Workforce Investment Board and has sought ways to provide Richmond residents with training for higher-skilled jobs.


Jovanka BecklesVice Mayor Jovanka Beckles will seek a second term on the City Council.  She has led the City’s initiative to fight crime and violence by productively integrating residents released from incarceration.  Beckles’ “Ban the Box” ordinance prevents the City from disregarding applications for City employment because of previous incarceration.  Beckles also introduced the Richmond Municipal Identification Program, strongly supported by Police Chief Magnus as a tool to improve police-community interaction.  She fought discrimination and harassment of LGBT residents in the City Council chambers and elsewhere.  


Eduardo MartinezRichmond Planning Commissioner Eduardo Martinez is running for City Council with a campaign sub-theme, “A City for Our Children.” A retired local elementary school teacher, Martinez is a long-time advocate for education and was a lead organizer for the March for Education in 2004.   He serves on the board of the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, an interdenominational organization helping immigrants navigate the immigration process.  Martinez ran for City Council in 2012 and fell short of election by only 516 votes.

The four candidates have worked closely together for several years to build “One Richmond, A Better and Healthier Richmond,” a unified community of diverse populations, working together on the problems of economic inequality, crime, racism, and pollution.  They seek to organize community members to define their city’s destiny, countering the outsized influence of corporations, developers, and other entrenched special interests on the democratic process.

To underscore the importance of clean elections that are free of corporate influence, Parker, McLaughlin, Beckles, and Martinez have pledged not to accept any campaign contributions from corporations.  All four candidates will utilize a volunteer campaign team.  Individuals who are interested in volunteering may call:   (510) 709-4433.

An official “kick-off” event for Team Richmond will be scheduled during the summer of 2014 in Richmond.

Twitter:  @ TeamRichmondCA