News Report, Richmond Pulse
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2014 election in Richmond will be remembered for Chevron’s $3 million spending spree on its preferred candidates, Mayor-elect Tom Butt’s victory, outgoing councilman Corky Booze’s loss and more. But even with national news attention and high stakes for the city on the line, less than 17,000 residents voted. In the election’s aftermath, Richmond Pulse asked several community members: What will you remember most about this election?
What I’ll remember most about this election is sitting on the back of my truck for the last two hours of the polls being open waiting for anyone to come and vote. I was supposed to be a greeter handing out Progressive voting guides but no one came by. The poll at St Luke’s was a ghost town. We counted maybe 20 voters, total, between six and eight p.m.
There was so much that happened behind the scenes, so many people who wanted to find a political home in this fight but couldn’t. I’ll remember all those conversations with youth and people of color who are still looking for this political home. And I’ll also remember the long wait for the results, the anxiety in the crowd and then that unbelievable moment when all precincts were in and it was a sweep. I think we were all in shock standing cheering with beers in hand at The Baltic. We actually won.
Proposition 47 saved lives!
We walked the streets, made thousands of phone calls and never gave up. Living in Richmond we see first hand the destruction that drugs bring to our community, families and overall welfare of our city. However, instead of addressing the root of the problem, which in most cases is drug addiction, a lot of our people are simply thrown in jails and prisons and forgotten.Non-violent drug offenders get out after lengthy sentences more hardened then when they first went in.
This proposition is more than saving tax payer dollars, it’s about saving a generation that has been wrongfully lost in the system. A stigma like a drug offense can keep someone from receiving financial aid for school and make it nearly impossible to get employed. Prisons have become a business and prop 47 told prisons, “We had enough.”
-Octavio Govobachi, 27
The November 2014 election was remarkable for the beating “Goliath” took in the Bay Area.
Richmond progressives knocked the giant Chevron for a loop by a progressive clean sweep in the municipal elections. Chevron’s carpet bombing saturation strategy backfired. The corporate giant’s obscene spending and dirty campaigning was counterproductive in the end.
In neighboring Berkeley, a grassroots coalition trounced Big Soda and made history by passing the first soda tax in the United States. I’m honored to be a part of this movement and grateful to the voters of Berkeley for leading the charge.
All in all, it was an impressive showing by the Bay Area.
-Jeff Ritterman, former Richmond City Council member
I didn’t vote this year. Is that a lazy cop-out? Maybe. I didn’t feel like my choices would be informed, and I don’t trust our system of “democracy.” Part of me feels guilty, like I’ve shirked a responsibility, and part of me feels defiant. All of me feels angry that voting has been framed as mandatory. I didn’t choose to be born, or to be inserted into a political society, and yet I’m expected to participate in its organization. That’s a responsibility for which I am not prepared. I would refuse any involvement if I could.
And yet, in spite of all that, I’m really happy that Prop 47 passed. Hopefully, a lot of the people who didn’t deserve to be incarcerated will be restored to the regular world, to their families and friends, and some of the people who would otherwise be unjustly imprisoned in the future will be spared that ordeal.
-Sonya Mann, 21
So many people knew how important this election was and knew that there was so much to lose if we didn’t get the right people in office. This is the first time I really participated in my local election. It has been a tiring, stressful, endurance testing election season and a challenging life experience. Everyday it seemed like the odds were stack against us as we worked so hard and so tirelessly to make sure our city government wasn’t bought off by Chevron. We all wanted people that would truly represent the people of Richmond and to protect all the progress that has been made.
The results of this election showed the true power and strength in coming together as a community, despite the fact that over $3 million was being spent to quite literally buy our elections.
I will remember this election as a time that reminds us all about the power of community coming together and winning against, what seemed like impossible odds.
-Melvin Willis Jr., 24
My main interaction with the elections was in my college writing class. We dedicated an entire class day to discussing the measures, our opinions on them, whether we thought they would pass or not and what effect their passing, or not, passing would have on the state. As a 19-year-old college sophomore, I really hadn’t spent much time learning about the different measures, even though I had intended to vote. However, sitting in my writing class, discussing different measures and politicians running, I realized I had no clue who most of the people running were and what they would do for the state if they were elected.
I’m able to admit to myself now that I had very little clue what or who to vote for. Not only because I didn’t know what they represented, but because I don’t really know what I represent, and who I want to support. In the end, I didn’t end up voting.
I hope in the future I can be knowledgeable enough to participate in reforming my state, but for now, I’ll just watch and learn.
-Adrienne Chaney, 19
Working and living in Richmond allows me to witness even the slightest changes. As I’ve driven and biked around town in the past five months I’ve witnessed a change in the landscape. While the people and buildings have remained the same, glossy billboards of Nat Bates, Donna Powers, Al Martinez, and Charles Ramsey have painted the streets since election season began.
One mailer after the next attempted to convince me to make the “right” choice. One canvasser after the other knocked on my door with eyes full of hope and eager to represent their candidate. It didn’t take too long before lies, shaming, and attacks began to fill the political arena. It seemed like everywhere I turned I was reminded of the political battle.
It was clear that our airwaves and streets were being funded by big money. Richmond began making national and international news when Moving Forward, a Chevron funded political action committee, began hitting the million dollar marks.
This election really made me think about the principles of democracy and the different ways parties were interpreting this concept. I personally do not believe corporations should be allowed to spend millions of dollars on elections. This creates a huge disparity between those who have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on ads and those who don’t.
-Tania Pulido, 25