Richmond gala honors Nat Bates for 45 years of community service

Richmond gala honors Nat Bates for 45 years of community service
All photos from the gala by MIke Kinney.

By Mike Kinney

More than 200 community members gathered Wednesday night to honor former Richmond mayor and longtime Councilmember Nat Bates for more than four decades of community service.They did so at the West County Salesian Youth Club, formerly the Salesian Boys & Girls Club. Fittingly, the event to honor the man who advocated for funding for local youth, also raised money for local youth.

John Ziensenhenne, former Richmond Councilmember and owner of M. A. Hays Insurance Company, noted that “Nat has given 45 years of community service to Richmond and Contra Costa County.”

“Nat never forgot about the kids of Richmond,” added Steve Alameda, CEO of the WCSYC. 

State of California Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond served as the event’s keynote speaker. Thurmond, who previously served as a Richmond councilmember, WCCUSD school board trustee and State Assemblymember, said, “It was an honor to learn from you. I have no doubt that Nat Bates truly loves Richmond.

Current Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez was in attendance and presented Bates with a certificate of recognition. County Supervisor Ken Carlson and former County Supervisor Tom Powers presented Bates with a proclamation from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

“Nat Bates has helped to spread the equity in Richmond and Contra Costa County,” he said.

Jimmy Russey, former president of the Richmond Firefighters Local 188, retired Richmond police captain Joey Schlemmer, who served the city for 27 years, and community advocate Don Gosney were among the attendees noting Bates’ significance in the community.

Alameda presented a plaque to Bates acknowledging his service.

Bates said he was “blessed with so many friends and my family.”

“Appreciate all of the people in your life,” he said. “Many people have asked me what the secret to my longevity is. I tell them don’t stress out. In politics, you will win some and lose some, but one must learn to respect one another and not to stress out. ”  

The gala banquet was sponsored by Chevron, Levin Richmond Terminal Group, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 302, Prologis, Plumbers and Steamfitters 342, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 159, Republic Service, Sims Metal and Ed and Jan Menosse.