18 candidates vying to fill Richmond council seat include familiar names

RPD's summer crime prevention fair Saturday offers food, fun and signatures for fix-it tickets

Eighteen candidates are vying to fill the Richmond City Council seat left vacant after Tom Butt was elected as the city’s mayor in November.

Among them are longtime former Councilmember Jim Rogers, whose stunning loss in the November election came after a torrent of attacks from the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), who targeted Rogers even though he did not seek nor receive support from Chevron.

Other familiar names vying for council include Rosemary Corbin, former Richmond mayor (1993-2001), and Uche Uwahemu, a newcomer who built a positive reputation during his losing bid for mayor in November.

Council is set to hear presentations from the candidates on Feb. 10 and may vote to make an appointment at that time, Mayor Tom Butt said in his e-forum post. If someone isn’t chosen within 60 days, a special election could be held in November. Butt and councilmembers believe a special election won’t be needed.

To read the full candidate statements, visit here. Below we’ve listed the candidates alphabetically and did our best to summarize their statements.

Ben Choi

An account manager at Marin Clean Energy and son of immigrants has spent five years on the Planning Commission and two years representing his neighborhood council. Pledges to balance the city’s goals of clean air and jobs, public safety and civil liberties, and to combat blight and crime without inviting gentrification or displacement.

Otheree Christian

A Howard University graduate with a BA in Criminal Justice and Minor in Political Science and a product of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Wants to bring teamwork and leadership to the council and is currently serving as President of the Iron Triangle neighborhood Council.

Rosemary Corbin

The former Richmond mayor and councilmember was elected four times and has also a number of local commissions. Wants to serve the next two years to further policies that have recently been adopted, but says she would not seek re-election.

Anthony Creer

Terminal operator in Richmond and Kennedy High graduate. Wants to capitalize on his intimate knowledge of the community and as a former business owner and entrepreneur wants to fight for the plight of local small businesses.

Raquel Donoso

Director of the nonprofit Mission Promise Neighborhood and mother of two sons. Says her professional background led to an understanding of the importance of spending within the city’s means, increasing economic development, and increasing access to schools, parks, libraries.

Oscar Garcia

The Iron Triangle-raised environmental engineer is employed at Chevron Richmond. Graduated valedictorian at Kennedy High and obtained chemical engineering degree from UC Berkeley. Has managed multimillion dollar projects, can help council address technical issues and seeks initiatives empowering youth and low-income residents.

Rhonda Harris

Longtime resident, mother and CEO of R.F. & Associates, Inc. (RFA), a development and consulting firm. Established Contractor’s Alliance to address inequality affecting small contractors. Worked with program to provide jobs to at-risk youth and founded Veterans Resource Program to assist veterans with housing, benefits and education. Calls herself team player who wants to ensure community is informed.

Claudia Jimenez

An architect, environmental planner and community organizer, the Richmond mom hopes to build stronger alliances and civic participation in the community, wants to continue to address deep inequality and exclusion in a city she says his marred by racial and class segregation and big money in politics.

Dameion Demon King

Lifelong Richmond resident and case manager for Rubicon Programs and current president of The Redemption Center. Served on the Richmond Housing Authority’s Advisory Committee and as chair of Marin Clean Energy’s community advisory group. Hopes to promote tolerance, social entrepreneurship, affordable housing, business development and culturally competent public safety policies.

Sheryl E. Lane

The director public policy at the nonprofit EARN (Earned Assets Resource Network) graduated from De Anza High and earned a Masters degree in Management and Urban Policy. Has served for more than five years on the Richmond Planning Commission and is its current chair. Wants to promote economic development to grow tax base, reduces poverty, fulfill housing needs, revitalize core neighborhoods and nurture local entrepreneurs and youth programs.

Marilyn Langlois

The retired community advocate and mediator ran for City Council in 2012. Has worked on Mayor McLaughlin’s staff for more than four years and serves on the Richmond Planning Commission. Has “contextual knowledge and practical skills needed” for policy-making on council. Her energy will be focused on alleviating “sources of pain” and “expanding our collective joy.”

Jeff Lee

The retired senior account manager served on Richmond Planning Commission for six years, assisting in the development of the city’s General Plan. Serves as oversight board member to Successor Agency of Richmond Redevelopment and active participant in Sante Fe neighborhood council. Pledges full-time attention to council post.

Vinay Pimple′

Attorney with a law degree from UC Berkeley, formerly software engineer for Verizon and English teacher at Rutgers. An involved community volunteer with Richmond Trees and the literacy programs Writer Coach Connection and LEAP. Also active in at-risk youth program Richmond Police Activities League. Will strive to boost the school district, create jobs with better outreach to businesses and achieve fiscal responsibility and government transparency.

Samuel L. Pooler

Attorney with degrees from California Western School of Law and San Diego State University; served in U.S. Marine Corps. Hopes to foster a more cooperative relationship between the business community and council and renew focus on balancing environmental concerns with growth to make Richmond a world-class city.

Jim Rogers

Respected former member of City Council suffered slim loss in November election. Known to place policy over politics. Led the fight to pass Measure U, to hire more and better police, improve pothole repair and save local schools from closure, including Kennedy High. “It’s all about issues, not political friends and enemies,” he said.

David Schoenthal

Entrepreneur with three degrees in speech communication. Active in community as president of Point Richmond Business Association, Commission of the Richmond Economic Development Commission and President of Washington Elementary Dad’s Club. Worked to keep the local farmer’s market and chaired and organized Annual Picnic in the Point. Wants to help city continue to evolve by tapping its incredible people and unique resources.

Kathryn Sibley

The executive assistant with the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission represented the county on the 2003 Macdonald Avenue Revitalization Program, served two terms on the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission,  and serves on the Public Art Advisory Committee. Was appointed to San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan Advisory Committee in 2007. Professionally, has managed community based nonprofits such as  symphony orchestras, museums and Telluride Film Festival. Aims to continue building and improving upon Richmond’s diverse community.

Uche J. Uwahemu

Newcomer to Richmond politics but received a positive reception during his losing bid for mayor in November. Has more than 20 years of business experience in nonprofit and private sectors. Hopes to build a robust, smart economy in Richmond, with focuses on attracting new business, building skills for youth and adults looking to return to the workforce and creating sustainable environment.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated former Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin was the city’s first woman mayor. A kind and knowledgeable reader corrected us: Mattie Chandler was mayor in 1926.