As we move into the last month
of 2008, there is so much to reflect on. This
year has been an intense and incredible year
here in Richmond. Our local elections brought
forward so many positive results. Two out of
the three Richmond City Council candidates that
I endorsed were successful. Councilmember Tom
Butt was reelected and Councilmember-elect Jeff
Ritterman will soon become the newest Richmond
Although the third candidate I endorsed, Jovanka
Beckles, did not succeed (having very narrowly
missed winning the third available seat), Jovanka
continues to serve in many official and non-official
capacities throughout our community as a progressive
leader and visionary.
The Richmond City Council
will also shrink down to 7 members from 9 members
in January. New dynamics, new opportunities,
and new frontiers will result for us all as a
result of a changed City Council. The swearing-in
ceremony for the new council will take place
in the Council Chambers on January 13, 2009.
In addition to the election
of new council, we experienced another electoral
victory this season. We are in the midst of experiencing
a momentous occasion here in Richmond having
won the passage of Measure T (otherwise known
as A Fair Share For Richmond). Thank you to the
voters of Richmond for your wisdom and foresight
in passing this key initiative that will bring
new revenue into the city to serve unmet needs.
Please read the Contra Costa Times guest editorial
below written by Jeff Ritterman, Jovanka Beckles
and me titled: A Fair Share for Richmond Comes
Lastly, I want to extend an invitation to all
to come to a potluck event celebrating the work
and commitment of my Environmental Justice Environmental
Health Task Force. Please join us on Wednesday,
Dec. 3, 6:30 pm at Atchison Village Community
Center. For more details, please contact Nicole
Valentino at Nicole@officeofthemayor.net or
Thank you to the entire community of Richmond,
and all our friends, for helping us advance the
priorities of a peaceful, healthy, and sustainable
future for our city!
Sincerely, Gayle McLaughlin Mayor of Richmond
November 29, 2008, Contra Costa Times
A Fair Share for Richmond Comes True
McLaughlin, Jeff Ritterman, and Jovanka Beckles
The Nov. 4 local election brought a welcome
influx of funds to the people of Richmond with
the passage of Measure T.
So many people made this victory possible. For
18 months, volunteers worked tirelessly on this
grassroots campaign. More than 5300 signatures
were gathered to place Measure T on the ballot.
Volunteers worked evenings and weekends, creating
literature and newsletters, distributing signs,
making phone calls, and going door to door in
every neighborhood of the city. The Yes on T
Campaign was outspent 20 to 1, yet our efforts
prevailed thanks to the hard work of so many.
While much gratitude is in order, a special thank
you goes to the nearly 15,000 Richmond citizens
who supported Measure T with their vote.
While we are overjoyed with the passage of Measure
T, we are aware that some businesses have expressed
concern about how Measure T will affect them.
We want to reassure small businesses that Measure
T will not raise their fees. We invite any business
that has concerns about this measure to sit down
with us and look at the numbers. For those large
manufacturers whose fees will be increased, we
believe that the investment Measure T will allow
in city services will more than offset any burden.
Measure T was designed to bring in much needed
city revenue from those who can most afford it
and to invest the funds to benefit those most
in need. The daunting economic challenges we
face as a result of the current crisis shows
clearly why Measure T funds are so desperately
With Measure T funds, we can expand job training
opportunities, reducing unemployment and the
social ills which accompany it. We can invest
more in infrastructure repair, fixing our streets
and beautifying our city. We can invest in improving
our educational and after school opportunities
for our children. The list of needs is long.
We will be initiating a public process to determine
the best use of the funds from year to year,
addressing needs and quality of life for all.
Richmond has been on the brink of transformation
in recent years. There are decades of poverty,
neglect, and social and environmental injustice
to overcome. The city also suffers from political
and ideological divisions. Now is the time for
all of Richmond to join together. This revenue
will be key to allowing our transformation to
materialize fully. The voters have spoken. Measure
T has passed. We ask that all of Richmond come
together to embrace this measure so that we can
invest these funds as soon as possible. There
is no time to lose. By all of us coming together
and investing wisely in our city, Richmond can
serve as a national model of economic recovery
during these challenging times.
We invite all of Richmond to join with us in
our efforts to make Richmond a healthier and
a safer place for all.
McLaughlin is mayor of Richmond, Ritterman is
Richmond councilmember-elect, and Beckles is
a Richmond economic development commissioner.