Richmond Mayor Candidate Statements: Gayle McLaughlin

By Gayle McLaughlin
Friday November 03, 2006

Richmond can be a great place … It is possible! In 2004 the City of Richmond was hit by a 35 million dollar tidal wave of a deficit that swept away over 200 city jobs and the few public services that Richmond residents could count on . In the throes of this disaster, I ran for the Richmond City Council offering a new vision and a new direction. I was elected with an overwhelming approval of the voters, and without taking a single dollar from corporate America. The people of Richmond were tired of decades of corruption, collusion, mismanagement and carelessness. 

I worked very hard on the Council these years and have had some very important accomplishments. 

First, I have made it clear to the people of Richmond that a true grassroots working representative can be both kind and firm in demanding from peers and staff the best for the families of Richmond. It is possible to have a clean, honest and independent representative who is not for sale. 

Second, I have helped to shift the thinking in my colleagues. Little by little, voting often in the minority, but presenting well the arguments for my positions and maintaining the connections with the grassroots movement, I was able to see significant shifts in the policy making of the Richmond City Council; what was inconceivable five years ago has become possible today and big industry is being called upon to be a better, more responsible neighbor and taxpayer.  

Here are some areas in which I initiated or helped to advance a Better Richmond:  

I have defended the community’s health. My March 2005 resolution demanded that one of the most toxic sites in California, the Zeneca-UC Field Station, come under the clean-up supervision of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (Cal EPA). I brought together the entire Richmond City Council for a unanimous vote. 

I protected consumers from higher taxation I was the only councilmember opposing a new sales tax hike (“Measure Q”). Voters agreed and soundly rejected this on the November 2005 ballot. Rather than leaning on consumers and hurting small businesses with regressive sales taxes, I am committed to ending special perks for big industry. I have also helped to secure a rebate for all low-income families hit hard by hikes in sewer fees. 

I helped end Chevron’s self-inspection process. I co-sponsored a directive, unanimously approved by the Richmond City Council, to repeal the 12-year-old practice of allowing Chevron to self-permit, self-inspect and self-certify its own work. 

I promoted clean, sustainable energy. I co-founded “Solar Richmond,” a not-for-profit grassroots initiative to educate and encourage more solar energy on residential, business and public properties, which will bring Richmond energy cost savings, environmental preservation and solar jobs and training for youth. I also introduced a resolution authorizing the City and the Port of Richmond to examine the use of biodiesel and biodiesel blends. It was passed unanimously. 

I worked for a new park along Richmond’s north shoreline. I championed on the City Council the East Bay Regional Park District’s plan to purchase and create a regional park on the Breuner Marsh property, next to Parchester Village. 

Today I am running for Mayor of Richmond. What this City needs most is good leadership. I can provide it. I can set a new tone for our city. 

Richmond continues to face enormous challenges. The economic implosion of our state and the outsourcing of jobs has added another layer of despair to the surplus of frustrated, unemployed young men we have in Richmond, who have given up hope and turn to crime and violence. When young men in the drug trade are confronted, countless times they tell us: “You want my gun? Give me a job!”  

That is what we need to do. As I write these lines the parents and grandparents of these young folks are mobilizing and organizing against homicides (the highest rate in the state) and Richmond’s “tent cities “ constitute both a call for an end to the fratricidal homicides and an indictment on our city for not having done enough. Richmond’s tent cities are therefore also protest statements against all those who have not responded to the deep roots of violence and have allowed it to go on for decades.  

So I will focus on giving the people of Richmond what they need and want: Priority for residents, priority on jobs, priority for the abandoned old neighborhoods, priority for our youth. I plan a Richmond Youth Corps which will employ thousands of youngsters and have educational components.  

I have been a supporter of Richmond measure T which we placed in the ballot for the voters to consider. It is passes it will generate an additional 8 million dollars in revenue from the refining of oil in Richmond. 

Measure T tells the local refining company in Richmond: Be responsible to the local communities in which you operate. Show reciprocity to the people who put up with the consequences of your operations: the flares, the toxins, the risks and shelters-in-place, the lower property values, and the kids in asthma clubs. Measure T asks for Richmond the equivalent of a few dollars for each million Chevron makes in profits. I expect and will demand that significant parts of this revenue are used to address the unemployment of youth and to prevent crime and violence.  

I’m ready for the job. I have what it takes and I think the people of Richmond are also ready. My colleague Councilmember Tom Butt says “A victory by McLaughlin in the mayor’s race would send a very loud signal that Richmond voters are truly ready for change, not just a different name on the door of an office … McLaughlin would be a good choice for mayor.” I’m running for Mayor and for a Better City: Run with me and tell every one of your friends in Richmond to vote on Nov. 7th. We are facing a time and an opportunity that we cannot waste. A Better Richmond is Possible … and in the making!