McLaughlin Announces Run for Richmond Mayor By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday March 07, 2006

Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin announced Sunday that she will run for mayor in the November elections. 

A member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and the third-place finisher of 15 council candidates in November 2004, McLaughlin told supporters she won’t take any corporate contributions. 

McLaughlin’s opponent is likely to be current Mayor Irma Anderson, who is one of four councilmembers whose seats are up for grabs in the coming election. 

While Anderson—who was elected in 2000—hasn’t formally announced, she “has not made any bones about the fact that she’s running again,” said a source close to the mayor who would comment only on background. 

“She will probably hold off on announcing until after the June primary,” the source added. 

McLaughlin’s announcement included a call to end the utility tax exemption granted the city’s ChevronTexaco refinery 20 years ago in order to create a Richmond Community Youth Corps to provide “1,000 part-time year-round jobs that employ youth from the areas of our city hardest hit by street crime.” 

Her call for increased taxation on the refinery comes just as the oil giant is trying to get its property tax assessment reduced. The refinery is Richmond’s largest employer. 

She also called for the creation of community-based after-school programs designed to cut the high school drop out rate in half by 2010. 

Other planks of McLaughlin’s candidacy include: 

• Opposition to any increases in sales and utility taxes. 

• Reopening the closed West Side and Bayview branches of the Richmond Public Library. 

• Stronger city support for solar and other alternative power generation proposals, including support for the goals of Solar Richmond, a citizen group that calls for the generation of five megawatts of solar power in the city by 2010. 

• Enacting just-cause eviction and fair rent laws, as well as city support for land trust and cooperative efforts that would allow more Richmond residents to own their residences in a city with more than 50 percent of its citizens in rental units. 

• Creation of new housing for the city’s homeless population. 

• Support for infill housing and commercial development in the city center. 

McLaughlin’s announcement also included a reference to an issue that occupied her initial months on the council, her ultimately successful effort to call for new regulatory oversight at Campus Bay, a contaminated site in southern Richmond where a housing complex had been proposed. 

After initial resistance from Anderson and others on the council, McLaughlin was able to hammer out a compromise measure that called on the state to hand control of the site over to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. 

“I’m not running just to oppose the old ‘Richmond Way’ that allows irresponsible development on toxic properties, rubber-stamping plans with no consideration for the health and well-being of families, children, the vulnerable and the elderly,” McLaughlin said. 

She said that before the city rushes “to allow the elimination of our open shorelines for a quick return,” the city should concentrate on improving existing neighborhoods. 

In 2003, McLaughlin out-polled two sitting councilmembers, Mindell Penn and Nathaniel Bates. Andres Soto, another Richmond Progressive Alliance member, placed sixth. 

McLaughlin told supporters that her eventual goal is to see a solidly progressive slate in control of the City Council in the years to come.