Richmond Needs a Corporate-Free City Council
Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the damage that
corporate money is causing in our democracy, and they want leaders who will
fight for them by reducing special interest money in our elections. Here in
Richmond, we see the continued power of Chevron and developers, who try to
buy elections directly, then influence elected officials with lobbying and promises
In 2014 Richmond voters fought back against corporate domination and elected
three progressive city council members who are truly independent from the .01%
billionaire class, rejecting all corporate money for their campaigns.
We deserve to feel confident that our council members put
our people’s needs first. We need to know they aren’t
keeping an ear or a hand out for donations from Chevron,
lobbyists, developers, and the big apartment owners.
Which city council candidates have not refused to accept corporate money for their campaigns?
Bates, Boozé, Rogers, Myrick, Pimplé, Uwahemu, Zepeda
Who are the only candidates who reject all corporate money?
Ben Choi and Melvin Willis
The need to get money out of politics may be the one thing Americans agree on.
Nearly everyone opposes “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court ruling that
allowed corporations to spend unlimited (and unreported) amounts of money to
influence the outcome of elections.
But in Richmond, we’ve learned how to do something about it. We’ve fought
corporate control of our politics through grassroots organizing and principled
council members. Two years ago Chevron poured millions into the city council
election, yet its candidates were defeated by the power of organized, fed-up
citizens who helped elect three Richmond Progressive Alliance members. Since
then these corporate-free progressives have worked hard to get the city to deal
with the problems its residents face.
What would a corporate-free council majority mean for Richmond?
Concern: They would vote as a bloc and control the council.
Fact: All elected officials must abide by the Brown Act, which prohibits a majority
of council members from communicating about agenda items outside the council
meeting. This law assures that all points of view are heard in an open process.
Fact: RPA endorsed council members don’t agree on every single issue, but
Richmond residents are guaranteed that each decision they make as
independent thinkers is free from corporate influence.
A corporate-free council majority would share progressive values. What does this
mean? It means they will respond to Richmond residents’ concerns, not
those of outside corporate interests. They will apply progressive solutions to
Corporate-free progressives on the council have supported these issues:
Addressing the budget crisis by temporarily reducing salaries of top
administrators so city services are maintained
Increased civilian oversight of the police to improve community policing
Passed rent control and just cause for eviction, and when the apartment
owners succeeded in overturning the ordinance, supported putting it on
this November’s ballot
Introduced and implemented a higher minimum wage and “Ban the Box”
legislation to end employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated
Promoted development while insisting that it benefit Richmond residents
with an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement
Insisted on an open community process to determine the development of
Insisting that Chevron contribute funds to keep Doctors Hospital open
Pressed Chevron to reduce pollution and danger to the community
A corporate-free majority on the city council could also:
Expand job training programs
Repair our infrastructure
Press the county, state, and universities for a new hospital in West County
Improve and strengthen our neighborhood public schools
Can Richmond move forward with progressive solutions, or will it be blocked by
corporate influence? Will our city council have the strength to stand up to the
enormous economic and social power of developers and corporations?
Richmond won national acclaim in 2014 when we defeated Chevron’s control
over our politics. We have shown that there are progressive, compassionate
alternatives to the politics of hate. The two corporate-free, principled city council
candidates, Ben Choi and Melvin Willis, are young, prepared, and experienced.
They will work hard to create the better Richmond we all deserve.
This November, let’s elect a city council that represents all Richmond
communities, a council that reflects the diversity of our city. Let’s have each
council member bring his or her own best and independent thinking to city
government, with one characteristic in common: let’s have none of them be
influenced by corporate money.
Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering Committee