Eduardo Martinez: ‘I Have a Vision’

Interview, Malcolm Marshall

Eduardo Martinez, 69, is a current member of the Richmond City Council who is running for re-election. He was elected in 2014. Originally from Dumas, Texas Martinez moved to the Bay Area in the 1970s. He is a retired elementary school teacher.

Martinez sat down with Richmond Pulse to discuss development, problems with the Kids First initiative, and his dreams for the city.

Richmond Pulse: Why are you running for City Council?

Eduardo Martinez: Being on the City Council, I learned how the city is run. It has a lot of problems that need to be fixed. I also have a vision of what Richmond can become and developers are the ones who will make my vision come true, developers and business people.

I’m working with Alameda County, Oakland, Berkeley, and now San Francisco to set up a regional bank that would solve a lot of problems for the cannabis industry. By setting up a regional bank, they could bank electronically and the interest would stay in the community.

I’m an educator and have a lot of ideas to make our workforce viable, like talking with the nurses’ union to start a nursing curriculum. People in high school can start training to become nurses, so by the time they graduate, they can take jobs in the nursing field.

RP: What two issues do you feel need immediate attention in Richmond and how would you address them?

EM: Homelessness is an increasing problem. With the mayor, we worked to push Measure T, which is a property fee for vacant lots and buildings. People who own them will be charged more because vacant lots downgrade the value of the property around them and create blight. Today, I went to several sites and used my Richmond app to take photographs of them and put them to the abatement department. This tax would help pay for abatement costs and incentivize people to improve the quality of our city.

Another problem is our budget. The people of Richmond passed the Kids First initiative. I wasn’t for it because it didn’t have a funding source. I told John Gioia that the way it was written, the City of Richmond could go bankrupt. It’s possibly a lose-lose situation, not just for kids, but for everyone in Richmond. We have the transfer tax, which should cover that, but that could have gone into the general fund.

The annexation of North Richmond seems to be coming from Tom Butt and other staff people, not from the community. We’re trying to balance the budget and annexing a part of the city for a million dollars structural deficit? That doesn’t make any sense.

RP: What is your vision for development at Point Molate?

EM: We have 670 units that are supposed to go there. We don’t have the money for the infrastructure and it is going to cost so much that developers are going to look for someone else to pay for it.

I haven’t had those conversations. I would like to see Winehaven preserved and built up as a commercial museum, cultural center. I also see a sports center.

One of the issues is traffic. I’ve asked for a traffic evaluation from day one and haven’t gotten it. We’re going to end up building a road that costs a lot because it needs to be widened. We also have to get the right-of-way from Chevron to go over their pipelines.

RP: How will you address health disparities and the shortage of medical care services in the city?

EM: We need a hospital in Richmond. I wish we could find some way to have Kaiser step up to provide the medical services we need. Lifelong Medical services is wonderful, but it’s a Band-Aid. It doesn’t provide what we need.

Before Doctors Hospital was sold, I was hoping the county could incorporate it into to the county system. Their rate of returns from Medicare and Medicaid could subsidize a lot of the deficit that they were facing. And then charge a utility user tax for the refineries outside of city limits because there’s a nexus between health and refineries.

[If] they close Alta Bates, we’re basically killing our community.

RP: How do you imagine Richmond in 10 years?

EM: Protecting residents from gentrification through the repeal of Costa Hawkins. I’d also like to see a move from minimum wage to a livable wage. Businesses need to make allowances for rent increases, for the price of materials, increases in taxes.

In my dreams, I see a hotel next to the Craneway. I see a water taxi servicing the shoreline communities and a public transit bridge which goes to the ferry and to BART. I would raise Hilltop Mall which, means to rip it down to the ground and rebuild it with architecture that that draws your eye and is high enough to be seen from the freeway.

I see the Zeneca site cleaned up properly. And I still have a Chancellor Dirks’ vision of a global campus, international university. I also want to see a city that starts looking at preventing the catastrophe that will come with sea level rise. We need smart businesses that don’t add to the problems.

This article is one of a series of interviews with this year’s city council candidates. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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