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Contra Costa Times

Posted November 3, 2010

Richmond Mayor wins, two incumbents ousted

By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin won a second term early Wednesday morning in a heated three-way race for the city's top post. McLaughlin captured 6,282 votes, or 40 percent, to beat out one of her most vocal critics, City Councilman Nat Bates. Bates received 5,675 votes, or 36.5 percent.

Former councilman John Ziesenhenne trailed both with 3,551 votes or 22.8 percent, a gap that was simply too large to bridge. Bates and Ziesenhenne have criticized the mayor, saying she has failed to embrace the kind of business and industry the city needs to generate jobs for locals. McLaughlin disputes those claims and said she wants a more diverse economy that reduces the city's financial dependence on the Chevron refinery and welcomes the growing green technology sector.

Meanwhile in the race for three open council seats, veteran candidate Corky Booze, incumbent Jim Rogers and challenger Jovanka Beckles claimed the top votes to win. Booze garnered 5,885 votes or 14.8 percent; Rogers 5,665 votes or 14.3 percent; and Beckles 5,245 votes or 13.2 percent. The trio pushed out incumbents Myrna Lopez and Maria Viramontes. Lopez received 4,594 votes or 11.6 percent, and Viramontes received 4,340 votes or 10.9 percent. The other candidates -- Virginia Finlay, Rhonda Harris, Eduardo Martinez and Harry Singh -- trailed by larger margins and lost their first bids for elected office. Candidate Gary Bell withdrew from the race in August, but garnered enough votes to come in eighth. With four of seven council seats up, Tuesday's critical election will affect how the council votes on major issues on the horizon including the contentious casino-hotel resort proposed at the old Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot.

The new additions to the council means a majority now oppose the casino plan. Measure U, the advisory ballot measure on whether to build a casino at Point Molate, was defeated with 9,041 no votes or 57.5 percent. Measure V, the 5 percent marijuana tax, passed handily with 11,657 yes votes or 77 percent.

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