Richmond Chamber launches PAC to address business-unfriendly Council

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Richmond Chamber launches PAC to address business-unfriendly Council
James Lee, president and CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, speaks at an event at CoBiz RIchmond in June 2019.

A Richmond City Council that is increasingly unfriendly to local businesses has prompted the Richmond Chamber of Commerce to launch the Richmond Business Political Action Committee (RichPAC), according to Chamber President and CEO James Lee.

RichPAC will seek to elect pro-business leaders to the City Council. The Chamber says the current City Council is “making key decisions that negatively affect the City’s ability to attract and retain businesses, which supply jobs and goods to our residents and community.”

“As an example, our City Council approved putting Measure U on the ballot, which passed in November 2020,” said Lee. “Measure U will substantially increase the tax businesses will have to pay, and in some cases, the increase is as high as 1,700 percent. Not only does the City risk losing businesses over this increase, but it also will have a difficult time convincing other businesses to relocate to Richmond.”

The Richmond City Council, which governs the city of over 100,000 residents, has been dominated in recent years by decisions made by a relatively small group called the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA). Four of the seven elected members currently serving on Council are also members of the RPA, including Eduardo Martinez, Gayle McLaughlin, Claudia Jimenez and Melvin Willis. The RPA typically votes as a bloc, meaning their votes can control most Council decisions.

Business leaders say they have felt ignored by the current City Council. Lee says the 2022 elections “give us the opportunity to elect those who understand the fundamental role businesses play in the health of our communities and are willing to listen to our concerns and advocate on our behalf.”

“While we have made significant progress, there is much work to be done, and we need your help,” said Lee. “Supporting the RichPAC is one way you can be sure that you will have a meaningful voice in the 2022 City Council elections. With your support, we will be able to send a powerful message to candidates about issues that are important to you and the business community.”

RichPAC is a state general-purpose committee that operates independently of the Chamber and is governed by its own board of directors. For more information, go here.