[Marxism] Green Party likely to win in Richmond (Calif) mayor's race

Steven L. Robinson srobin21 at comcast.net
Thu Nov 9 00:11:13 MST 2006

Green Party likely to win in Richmond (Calif) mayor's race

Jason B. Johnson & Peter Fimrite,  Staff Writers
 San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, November 9, 2006

Richmond is set to become the largest city in America with a Green Party
mayor, after the election Tuesday of Gayle McLaughlin, and party leaders say
her victory thrusts a group once defined as middle-class environmentalists
into a new role as a multicultural force in local politics.

In the past decade, Green Party members have served as mayors in nearly two
dozen predominantly white cities in California, from Sebastopol to Santa
Cruz and Davis.

But the strong showing of McLaughlin in the gritty, cash-strapped East Bay
city, where about three-fourths of the 103,000 residents are minorities,
would mark an enormous shift in the political demographic of Green Party

"The defining thing is that this is a direct election in a major urban
center, so it is definitely our biggest win," said Susan King, the Green
Party's California spokeswoman. "The victory signals for us that we are
moving beyond our base, that we can have an impact in minority communities
and actually have some pull with working class people."

With most ballots counted, McLaughlin, a 54-year-old city councilwoman,
leads Mayor Irma Anderson by 192 votes in a three-way race for mayor.
McLaughlin received 37.2 percent of the votes, followed by Anderson with
36.1 and businessman Gary Bell with 26.1. The rest of the tallied votes were
for write-in candidates.

Anderson refused to concede defeat Wednesday, saying she would wait until
all the provisional and late absentee ballots are counted, which will take
at least a week. But few people believe she can make up the deficit.

McLaughlin who was elected to the council four years ago, said being an
environmentalist allowed her to understand the troubles in Richmond's
neighborhoods, including high rates of childhood asthma in areas near
refineries and heavy industry.

"I stand for a sustainable environment," said McLaughlin, who helped found a
local group called Solar Richmond. "We have too much pollution in Richmond.
We need to clean many toxic sites left by many years of manufacturing."

McLaughlin, a former school teacher, said her campaign was all about
promoting the "people's interests over corporate interests." To combat the
city's high crime, she said she will launch a job corps for local youth so
young people can help with street repair and park maintenance.

"I want to put 1,000 kids to work throughout my term," McLaughlin said. "We
should be dealing with our existing neighborhoods and our existing quality
of life. That will bring in businesses."

Jack Citrin, a political science professor at UC Berkeley, attributed the
election results more to dissatisfaction with Richmond's current mayor than
any ideological shift in the city toward Green Party politics.

Such dissatisfaction motivated Terrell Temple, whose parents, grandparents
and an aunt live near John F. Kennedy Park in central Richmond, where a man
was shot to death recently while sitting in a car parked across the street
from one of the "Tent Cities" erected in a stand against violence.

"I have an aunt that lives on the other side of the park and she got held up
at gunpoint going from her car to her house (late last year)," said Temple,
41, who grew up in Richmond and now lives in Fairfield. "I'm for any change
that will help out in this city, anything that will help stop the violence
is a plus."

Bruce Cain, another UC Berkeley political science professor, said the key
question is whether McLaughlin can solve the nuts-and-bolts issues of
municipal leadership.

"In the end, whether you are progressive or conservative you have to provide
the everyday services that people expect out of city government -- the
lights, the water, the police, the fire, the emergency services," Cain said.
"What the new mayor does in Richmond will help develop an image people have
about what the Green Party is and whether it can govern."

Larry Robinson, a green mayor in Sebastopol in 2001 and 2005, said the Green
Party focuses on creating sustainable communities.

"The issues that we are concerned about in our white, middle-class
communities are the things that working class and minority communities are
concerned about -- economic and environmental justice, affordable housing, a
living wage, good schools for our kids and health care," Robinson said.

McLaughlin is set to become California's first elected Green Party mayor.
All 22 previous green mayors in the state, including mayors in Fairfax,
Sonoma, Sebastopol, Davis, Arcata and Santa Cruz, were appointed as part of
a mayoral rotation.

In all, 31 U.S. cities have had green mayors, beginning in 1991 with Kelly
Weaverling's election in Cordova, Alaska, amid widespread anger over the
Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Larry Barnett, a two-time Green Party mayor in Sonoma, said McLaughlin's
victory in Richmond shows that communities are more interested in solutions
than they are in partisan politics.

"I think people are simply looking for authentic candidates and
officeholders who have values that the voters can identify with," Barnett
said. "As a Green Party candidate, you are not tied down to an affiliation
with either political party."


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