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Green McLaughlin Enters CA Mayoral Race

The Green Party now has a very credible candidate for mayor of Richmond, California.

In case you were wondering, Richmond is a city of about 100,000 people located near San Francisco. It has a population that is pretty evenly split between whites, African Americans, and Asians.

The story from the Contra Costa Times:

Richmond Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin, the city’s only elected Green Party member, has declared her candidacy for mayor as the coming political season begins to take shape.

McLaughlin made her announcement to about 75 supporters who jammed into the Richmond Memorial Convention Center’s Catalina Room on Sunday.
“Today I am pursuing a new challenge, one that I profoundly believe is needed to finally set the course for Richmond to become the city we want and need,” she said. “I love this city and its people, and I will continue to work very hard to make Richmond better.”

McLaughlin is the second mayoral candidate to formerly announce a bid in the November election. The first was former Councilman Gary Bell, who lost his council seat in 2004. Mayor Irma Anderson has not announced that she will seek re-election, but her staffers say it is no secret that she intends to run. Councilman John Marquez said he also is seriously considering entering the race.

Currently, McLaughlin is one of 26 elected Greens in the Bay Area who have won seats on city councils, school boards and special districts. Statewide, there are 64 elected Greens, though none hold state office.

McLaughlin said her campaign theme is creating a “new Richmond,” in which residents retake City Hall from business interests.

Her campaign platform will focus on issues such as getting Chevron to pay its fair share of the utility users tax so that anti-violence programs can be funded. In her announcement speech, she proposed a part-time, year-round jobs program that would employ 1,000 young people.

She said after-school programs are sorely needed to reduce dropout rates and increase the number of Richmond youths who go to college.

McLaughlin, who has vowed not to take any corporate campaign contributions, said she will also support sustainable growth and work to end the influence of wealthy developers who in the past have sought to develop on contaminated properties with little regard for public health.

“I propose to you the end of the old Richmond, the end of a Richmond filled with corruption, pollution, crime, isolation and hopelessness,” she said. “But also the beginning of a new Richmond filled with healthy families, vibrant neighborhoods, flourishing opportunities and sustainable growth.”

Forrest Hill, the Green candidate running for Secretary of State, attended the meeting to support McLaughlin. He said voters are ready for the Green Party, and that McLaughlin is one of the party’s rising stars.

“She has turned out to be an amazing candidate because she has strong values, and she is not owned by anybody,” he said. “She’s an excellent example of what we need in government.”

The Rev. Andre Shumake, president of the Richmond Improvement Association, a coalition of 80 faith-based organizations, said his association has not endorsed any candidates yet, but he is sure that McLaughlin will elevate the campaign debate.

“She is bringing forward issues that have been skirted in the past, issues such as violence, education and housing,” he said. “These things will bring a broader discussion that will help bring about a positive change in Richmond.”
McLaughlin was new to politics when she ran for City Council in 2004. She stunned longtime politicos when out of a field of 15 candidates, she took the third most votes behind popular council members Tom Butt and John Marquez.

Making her win even more surprising was the fact that she took no corporate contributions and ran a successful grass-roots campaign with a total budget of $11,000, about a fifth of what other council candidates spent.
“That was a strong point in that campaign, and it will be going forward,” she said. “We take no corporate or business contributions. I don’t want my decisions influenced by corporate interests.”

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