Richmond Mayor Candidate Statements: Gary Bell

By Gary Bell
Friday November 03, 2006

I’ve achieved many of the things that I’ve wanted to achieve in life. I’m happily married, have a beautiful family, run a successful business, and have an amazing circle of friends. I want to give back to Richmond, the city that has given me so much. 

I list “banker” as my profession, but when I discusses my aspiration to become Mayor of the City of Richmond, I could be a mentor as well. 

In Richmond, young African-American men are at risk of death, injury, and detention due to violent crime. As a young African-American myself, I’ve had to make some of the same choices they face. What I want for Richmond is for successful African-American business people to stand up and be counted as positive role models for African-American youth, to be examples of the benefits of education and hard work. 

Neither educational or business success is a stranger to me. I earned an MBA in Management from John F. Kennedy University, in Orinda, and an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts from Wichita State University, in Kansas. I own First Bankers Mortgage, using my more than 25 years of experience in financial services to make it the success it is today. Operating my business with five other licensed individuals to focus on mortgage loan production for the Richmond community, I knows a thing or two about leadership and consensus. 

My business and educational background gives me a distinct advantage over the other candidates. Drawing upon the unique skillsets of individuals to accomplish tasks with efficiency means that I must rely on inclusion and delegation. Leadership isn’t about making yourself look good. It’s about motivating a team to be its best and showcasing its talents, giving credit and kudos to everyone for being a part of the effort. Involvement is empowerment, and I see that as vital to the future of Richmond. 

My “Plan to Create a Better Richmond” maps out this vision, focussing on eight key issues. 

On responsiveness to families and neighborhoods: The current City Council is dysfunctional and fragmented. As your new Mayor, I will build a united Council, so we can move forward to better serve the needs and concerns of Richmond residents. By having this focus, I can ensure that our City government will respond to families and neighborhoods in a way that increases the quality of life for all of us. 

On attracting and retaining businesses: Richmond has developed a reputation as a difficult place in which to do business. As your new Mayor, I want to reverse this misconception. Attracting and retaining businesses is central to generating revenue for infrastructure and services, addressing quality of life needs for residents, and fighting crime through gainful employment. 

On preventing violent crime: Violent crime is out of control in Richmond, and as your new Mayor, I want current laws regarding gun free school zones enforced. I will throw my full support behind the Chief of Police and the efforts of the Richmond Police Department. Meanwhile, the City’s Department of Employment & Training and the Education Commission will see to it that high-risk youth and adults are provided positive alternatives in education and employment. 

On educational reform: As your next Mayor, I will propose the formation of a Commission on Education, which will be the official liaison between the City government and the Cabinet of the West Contra Costa Unified School District and the School Board of Trustees. This Commission will help shape policies and ensure that our students are being prepared for college and university entrance, and job readiness standards prior to high school graduation. 

On the environment: As your next Mayor, I will meet the challenge to clean up past pollution, and bring environmentally sound and ‘green’ practices to the City of Richmond. I will apply for State and Federal ‘Superfund’ cleanup funding, and work closely with businesses to help develop practices that will contain and reduce contamination into water, land, and air. At the same time, I will move for the City of Richmond itself to do likewise. My goal is to take the lead for other cities in the region to follow.” 

On neighborhoods for all: Richmond’s working-class families are central to the City’s history. However, over the past 25 years, the City government has neglected the needs of everyday citizens. Now is the time for them to be brought back to the table as equal partners and stakeholders. As your next Mayor, I will initiate a massive outreach to all 39 Neighborhood Councils, the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council, and community advocates, to hear the goals for their respective neighborhoods. 

On the promotion of arts and culture: Richmond is an old city with a long tradition in arts and culture. Many painters, photographers, actors, dancers, writers, musicians, and other creators call it their home. For this tradition to thrive, the City government must place more emphasis on the promotion of arts and culture, now and into the future. As your next Mayor, I will propose increased funding to both the Richmond Art Center and the East Bay Center for Performing Arts, so that they may continue to advance arts and culture in Richmond. 

On affordable housing: “Statistics prove that in areas of Richmond where home ownership is low, crime is high, and vice versa. Thus, home ownership—and the pride and responsibility that goes with it—may be effective in controlling crime. As your next Mayor, I will work to direct resources into communities affected by low income and high crime, to promote home ownership. Other cities that have done so have witnessed decreases in crime and boosts to educational performance, and I believe that it can do the same for Richmond. 

For more information regarding my campaign for Mayor of the City of Richmond, call (510) 612-1835, or visit my website at www.GaryBell.org.