Every city in California is struggling to maintain financial health after years of state takeaways. I’m most proud to have saved Richmond from the brink of financial disaster by firing management, bringing in the State Auditor, and making unpopular decisions to dramatically reduce our operating expenses to save our City from bankruptcy. Today, our City is in the black with a balanced budget and new leadership that I helped recruit, including our City Manager, our Finance Director and our Police Chief.
The single most important issue facing Richmond today is the need to reduce crime and violence. As a former Registered Nurse, I know we must keep our young people from gangs and drugs. My Safe Streets Now! Plan increases our police force to 215 police officers and puts more officers on patrol, especially in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. To address the root causes of homicide and violence, my plan funds violence prevention programs for youth and ex-offenders.
I’m proud to have increased opportunities for Richmond’s kids by establishing the successful “Kids First” program, where I secured outside grant and other funding for after-school programs, sending over $5 million to our neediest schools. I have revived the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which has employed over 500 Richmond youth in the last two years. And just this year, I raised $20,000 to help fund the pre-apprenticeship program at Kennedy High School, which provides job training for youth. I will expand these initiatives so that we have after-school programs at every Richmond school and double the youth we are placing in summer jobs.
Potholes are a key concern that I hear from residents, and I agree, we need to do more to fix our streets and eliminate blight. For the first time in over a decade, we have allocated $8 million towards street and pothole repairs, and I am committed to keeping our streets in good condition. I secured that funding by working with our regional transportation agencies and I will continue to work to increase that commitment to our City’s infrastructure.
We need to continue to revitalize our downtown, and I am excited by the upgrades that are being made to Macdonald Avenue. I have recruited new retail shops for the area, including a new Target, developed the State’s first intermodal transit station that brings BART, AMTRAK and AC Transit together to meet our public transportation needs, created the neighboring Transit Village where more than half the homes are affordable to working families and laid the groundwork to develop 12th and Macdonald as a mixed use development that will bring together small retail businesses, services and housing within the next year. It is my goal to leverage the investments made in this key area so that we may make the same kind of investment along 23rd Avenue and down Cutting Boulevard. I will continue to work to attract new employers and businesses that will hire our Richmond residents.
It is because of these accomplishments and priorities I have the endorsement of the Democratic Party, the Central Labor Council, Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressional Representatives George Miller, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, State Senators Don Perata and Tom Torlakson, Assemblymember Loni Hancock and Assembly candidate Sandre Swanson, County Supervisor John Gioia, County Sherriff Warren Rupf, School board members Charles Ramsey, Glenn Price, Karen Leong-Pfeiffer and Karen Leong Fenton, and local Crime Prevention and Open Space leaders.
I respectfully ask for your support and your vote this coming Tuesday so that we can continue to move Richmond forward.