03 Sep Q&A: Ahmad Anderson Is a ‘Native Son’ of Richmond Politics
Interview, Michael J. Fitzgerald
Name: Ahmad Anderson
Age: 60 years old
Job: Owner of Designing Effective Organizations, a firm with a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Public service: Vice president and/or board member for organizations including KPFA Radio, Goodwill Industries, the Contra Costa County Childcare Council, the county Youth Service Bureau and the NAACP.
Highest education: UC Berkeley, BA in Political Science; currently an M.A. candidate at Columbia University Teachers College.
RP: Why are you running for City Council?
AA: I am running for City Council to provide a fresh voice, new ideas, and results-oriented leadership in serving the needs of our diverse District 5 neighborhoods and city. This is a critical election for Richmond.
It is no secret that our city is suffering financially — at the same time as coronavirus is threatening our health, livelihoods, and businesses. Our residents need the essential, life-saving services the city provides, more than ever.
As District 5 council member, I will advocate for healthy, clean and safe neighborhoods without blight, litter and graffiti. With properly maintained streets
I will also advocate for job creation and economic revitalization towards recovery and support of local business.
I will also advocate for addressing homelessness in a compassionate, effective manner to provide support and transition.
RP: What are the two most pressing issues in the city, and what do you propose should be done about them?
AA: Priority one is to design and implement a comprehensive COVID-19 health and welfare plan for West County. The plan will be a collaborative task force which would include: West County elected representation — city, county, state and federal, WCCUSD, Contra Costa College, Contra Costa Health Services and LifeLong Medical [Care] administrators — who provide high-quality health and social services to our West Contra Costa community.
This plan must include: Daily/weekly communications, COVID-19 status updates, increase in testing locations, social services support, free lunch, and free PPE will be distributed to all participants. Similar COVID-19 comprehensive plans have been successful in Oakland and San Francisco — specifically in African American and Latinx communities.
Priority two would be a call to action to stave off business closures and keep them afloat due to the enormous financial hardships of the COVID-19 health pandemic. We can’t remain idle while our business and communities fall by the wayside.
The weakened economy, unclear directives and delayed government assistance has paralyzed us physically and economically. We will take all of us together to move from survivor status towards a thriving community at large.
RP: And what is the most pressing issue in your district and how should it be addressed?
AA: Economic development. Any company that comes in should not come in to just build, they have to address jobs, poverty and support the community in the longer term. We need affordable housing and things like a skilled apprentice program for our youth. A skilled and trained workforce community is beneficial to local business and externally attractive to businesses interested in doing business in and around Richmond.
RP: How can the city help residents and businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic and then recover?
AA: We need to connect from a West County perspective, with more testing locations, more information. We could use rec centers for testing — they aren’t being used much now at all. We need to provide bilingual communication to inform folks. We need to provide personal protection equipment.
We should set forth a $1 million goal seeking support from corporations, charitable organizations, private businesses throughout the greater Bay Area with an economic relief fund. Economic relief grants would be awarded based upon eligibility requirements drafted by a task force.
RP: What changes, if any, to policing would best serve the community?
AA: It requires retraining and reset of mind. Bring in trainers who are not police officers, specifically trained in diversity and inclusion and community work that gives officers here more insight than what they have now. Then do reviews of how that training is impacting your police department and your community. Your police commission needs to be given the additional power through a mandate to be able to address issues accordingly.
RP: Why are you the best person to represent your district?
AA: I am a native son. I have lived in the entire district. I am Richmond.
I was born and raised in this district. I come from a family that has given service to this community from day one.
My father was a civil rights leader, minister, a mayor and a city council person. My mother was a director of public health nursing for Contra Costa County, a city council person and mayor of this city as well. I ran for office in 1985 at the age of 25.
At 25, I was the youngest first vice president of the NAACP. Been a board member of the Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau. I also worked towards getting the BART station we have now.