Feb 11, 2015

Richmond City Council remained split down the middle Tuesday night on who should fill the seventh council seat.

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

All but one of those candidates made their case Tuesday for why they should fill the empty seat, but none received a majority vote on council. While councilmembers praised the group as viable candidates, they remained divided and will make another attempt at gaining a majority vote at next week’s council meeting.

The three Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) members on council — Eduardo Martinez, Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles — want Marilyn Langlois, a fellow RPA member, to fill the seat. That would potentially give the RPA, which is known to vote as a bloc, the power to pass pretty much any agenda item it wants.

The other three non-RPA members on council — Jael Myrick, Mayor Tom Butt, and Nat Bates — are opposed to giving any one group in Richmond that much power on council, arguing that it would stifle democracy and have many of the city’s pressing decisions made in RPA headquarters rather than City Council Chambers.

“I’m not comfortable with voting to appoint frankly a fourth RPA member to this council,” Myrick said, adding that while Langlois is a great candidate she is not the only candidate qualified for the seat.

When it came time to vote, council could not reach majority approval for appointing Langlois, Sheryl Lane, Raquel Donoso, Claudia Jimenez, Kathryn Sibley, Rosemary Corbin, Ben Choi and Dameion King.

If council fails to appoint a candidate by March 13, the decision will be placed in the hand of voters via a special election, which is estimated to cost the city $200,000.


  1. This whole election cycle has been and continues to be a mockery of democracy. Does this process live up to “of the people, by the people, for the people?” Without district elections Richmond government is a huge joke. The resident’s price of admission to this three ring event is staggering unless of course you live west of I580 in which case you have box seats, wine and cheese. Richmond makes national headlines for beating up Chevron while Richmond’s City Government corruption is ignored. Fighting a corporation makes for big stories in various liberal publications but fighting against Richmond’s City Hall corruption, bulling, neglect of residents living in squalor, failing schools and high rates of unemployment in the African American and Latino communities is disregarded. Nothing changes if nothing changes; the resident must be empowered through district elections.

    Charles Smith | Feb 11th, 2015
  2. A vocal member of the Richmond small business association filed with the city clerk a Initiative Measure as a Richmond voter .So there will be a special election , once the signatures are gathered for the below Initiative Measure .

    February 9, 2015

    Diane Holmes
    City Clerk
    City of Richmond
    450 Civic Center Plaza
    Richmond, CA 94804

    Re: Initiative Measure to be Submitted to Voters

    Dear Ms. Holmes:

    Please find enclosed with this letter a copy of a proposed initiative measure and Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition for the City of Richmond, along with the $200 filing fee. Please transmit the initiative measure to the City Attorney for a Title and Summary pursuant to California Elections Code Section 9203.

    I am the proponent of this measure and am registered voter within the City of Richmond. Attached, please find a signed proponent affidavit as required by Section 9608 of the California Elections Code.

    Should you have any questions or require additional information, please contact my attorney,

    Thomas W. Hiltachk, at:
    Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP
    455 Capitol Mall, Suite 600
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Bus: (916) 442-7757
    Fax: (714) 442-7759

    Very Truly Yours,

    Fritz Kunze


    I, Fritz Kunze, acknowledge that it is a misdemeanor under state law (Section 18650 of the Election Code) to knowingly or willfully allow the signatures on an initiative petition to be used for any purpose other than qualification of the proposed measure for the ballot. I certify that I will not knowingly or willfully allow the signatures for this initiative to be used for any other purpose other than qualification of the measure for the ballot.

    Dated this 9th day of February, 2015

    Fritz Kunze

    Notice is hereby given by the persons whose names appear hereon of their intention to circulate a petition within the City of Richmond for the purpose of amending the Richmond Municipal Code in order to establish a mechanism by which the City Council shall set the compensation levels for City officials and employees.
    A statement of the reasons for the proposed action as contemplated in the petition is as follows:
    • Based on recent figures, City officials and employees earned a median salary of approximately $100,000 in 2013, almost double the median household income of Richmond residents.
    • The City Manager receives roughly seven times more than the median household income of Richmond residents in the form of salary and benefits.
    • The City Manager receives approximately three times the salary and benefits of the Governor of the State of California.
    • The City Manager is paid even more than city managers in surrounding cities with larger populations, including Antioch, Concord, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, Stockton, and Sacramento.
    • Based on public data, City officials and employees received raises as City agencies ran up debt.
    The initiative measure will expose the compensation paid to high-level City officials and impose a sensible limit on the compensation paid to the City Manager.

    Signed: ________________________
    Fritz Kunze  

    The people of the city of Richmond do ordain as follow:
    Chapter 2.66 is added to Article II of the Municipal Code to read as follows:
    2.66.010 – Compensation of City Officials
    (a) The City Manager shall continuously publicize the compensation paid to all City exempt service officials and employees of the City, as designated by section 3(a) of article XIII of the City Charter (e.g., all officers elected by the people; all members of the several boards; the City Manager; the Clerk; the City Attorney and his legal assistants; and persons employed to render professional, scientific, technical or expert service of an occasional and exceptional character), on the City’s website as follows:
    (1) The total amount of compensation, including pension, health, or any other financial benefit, paid by the City to, or for the benefit of, each designated official and employee in the immediately preceding calendar year:
    (2) The total amount of compensation, including pension, health, or any other financial benefit, expected to be paid by the City to, or for the benefit of, each designated official and employee in the current calendar year.
    (b) The City Council shall set the annual compensation, including pension, health, or any other financial benefit, paid to, or for the benefit of, all City exempt service officials and employees of the City, as designated by section 3(c) of Article XIII of the City Charter, by resolution, as the council shall from time to time determine.
    (c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the City Council shall not set or agree to pay annual compensation, including pension, health, or other financial benefit to, or for the benefit of, the City Manager that would exceed the following limit:
    (1) Five times the most currently reported median household income provided by the U.S. Census Bureau (based on data derived from Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, County Business Patterns, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits, Census of Governments) for the City.
    (d) The following shall apply to this section, adopted by initiative:
    (1) Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9217 or any successor statute, the City Council may only amend or repeal this ordinance upon a vote of the people.
    (2) If any provision of this measure, or part thereof, is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable. This section is not intended to and shall not be interpreted to invalidate or interfere with an employment contract executed prior to the adoption of this measure, however, no such contract may be extended or new contract executed that would exceed the limitation provided in this section.
    (3) This measure is intended to be comprehensive. It is the intent of the People that in the event this measure or measures relating to the same subject shall appear on the same statewide election ballot, the provisions of the other measure or measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this measure. In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and all provisions of the other measure or measures shall be null and void.

    Richard Poe | Feb 11th, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.