As the City faces the prospect of selecting a replacement for Gary Bell, a little history about past appointments may be interesting.
Since at least 1994, the City Council has never selected the runner-up in a previous election to take a vacant seat. I know this well, because I was the runner-up in the 1993 election, losing by only 104 votes. When Jim Rogers, then a City Council member, was elected to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors in November 1994, the City Council selected a new Richmond resident who had never been a candidate, Alex Evans, to fill the seat. I only got a single vote, from John Marquez.
I ran again for City Council in 1995 and was elected, as was Alex Evans, who ran for a full term. Evans was reelected for a second full term in 1999 but resigned in 2000.
Rev. Charles Belcher, who had never been a candidate, was appointed by the City Council to fill Alex Evans’ seat. After serving for two years, he did not seek reelection.
In 2005, Tony Thurmond, who had run ninth in a field of 15 City Council candidates in November 2004, was selected over runner-up Andres Soto to fill the seat of Mindell Penn, who resigned in July 2005.
When Gayle McLaughlin was elected mayor in 2006, that left her City Council seat open. Corky Booze had been the runner-up in the 2006 election and campaigned hard for the seat based on his runner-up status. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin publicly supported him.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Richmond Mayor-Elect Will Support Corky Booze
Politics Will Harper — Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 3:24 PM
Richmond Mayor-elect Gayle McLaughlin says she believes community activist and gadfly Corky Booze should be appointed to her old city council seat. Booze just missed getting elected to the city council on November 7 - candidate Myrna Lopez edged him out by less than five hundred votes for the third and final slot. "I truly believe that Richmond's popular vote should determine who gets my seat when I become mayor," McLaughlin said in an e-mail to the Express. "The people of Richmond have just voted and the logical and democratic way to proceed is to give the seat to the people's choice. Mr. Booze will likely be the next highest vote-getter (after the City Council winners are certified). My City Council seat should go to him."
Whether other councilmembers feel the same way remains to be seen. Booze will need the backing of McLaughlin plus at least four council members to get the necessary majority for the appointment. "I don't think he'd have a majority, frankly," says Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, whose district includes Richmond.
A regular speaker at council meetings, Booze is often critical of council members and he doesn't mince words.
During a candidate forum in October, for instance, Booze accused Councilman Jim Rogers of lying to the public by suggesting the city could use redevelopment money to fix potholes in his campaign literature. Booze had a point - there are restrictions on how and where redevelopment money is spent. But it's the way he said it that shows why he might have a hard time getting enough votes to win appointment to the vacant two-year seat: "Jim's going to jail if he uses redevelopment money for potholes," Booze told the audience at the forum.
Rogers was the highest vote-getter on November 7 in the race for the four-year city council seat.
Other names circulating as contenders for the open seat include Andres Soto, a Latino community activist, and Linda Jackson, president of the Santa Fe Neighborhood Council and wife of Vern Whitmore, publisher of the Richmond Globe.
When the vote was taken on January 16, 2007, Booze got only three votes – Bates, Butt and McLaughlin. Harpreet Sandhu, who had never been a candidate, was selected instead. Sandhu was defeated in his reelection bid in 2008.
January 16, 2007. NOMINATIONS AND APPOINTMENT TO FILL COUNCIL VACANCY
Mayor McLaughlin stated the following: Public speakers will address the Council first, and then Councilmembers can motion to appoint a candidate. If seconded, the Council will vote on the motion. The first candidate to receive five votes becomes the new City Councilmember. If no candidate receives five votes, as per the Charter, two options remain. The first option is that a motion may be made to call for a special election, which can be coordinated with the next election within 365 days, or the issue may remain unresolved and if the vacancy is not filled by March 9, 2007, which is 60 days after the seat was vacated, then the Council is required by Charter to call immediately for a special election, which can be coordinated with the next election, within 365 days. The following individuals gave comments on nominating and appointing one of the following person: Corky Booze, Harpreet Sandhu, and Whitney Dotson: Novelene Harris, Pastor Dana Mitchell, Jaideep Singh, Leroy Moore, Michael Bradford, Earl Palmer, Simms Thompson, Jr., Antwon Cloird, Corky Booze, Juanita Taylor, Garland Harper, Renee Parker, Stephan Cowans, Ethel Dotson, Sukman Dotson, Fred Davis Jackson, Freddie Jackson, Rev. Andre Shumake, Garland Harper, Lisa Wolf, Marilyn Langlois, Jackie Thompson, Rev. Charles Newsome, Richard Stollings, Otheree Christian, Wilma Miller, Patsy Green, Andres Soto, James Cash, Torm Nompraseurt, Tarnel Abbot, Richard Lompa, Rev. Otis Glourd, Rev. James Harris, JoAnn Tillman, Rev. George Brown, Jeet Bajwa, Darnell Turner, and Pastor Don Jones. A motion was made by Councilmember Rogers, seconded by Vice Mayor Viramontes, to appoint Harpreet Sandhu to the City Council. Discussion ensued, during which a substitute motion was made by Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Butt, to appoint Corky Booze to the City Council. The substitute motion to appoint Corky Booze failed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Butt, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: None. Abstentions: Councilmembers Lopez, Marquez, Rogers, Thurmond and Viramontes. Absent: None. The original motion to appoint Harpreet Sandhu passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Lopez, Marquez, Rogers, Thurmond and Viramontes. Noes: None. Abstentions: Councilmembers Butt, Bates, and Mayor McLaughlin. Absent: None.
On January 17, 2007, I wrote:
After dozens of speakers made impassioned pleas for the City Council to select November 2006 election runner-up Corky Booze, the City Council acted with dispatch to appoint Harpreet Sandhu to fill the position vacated when Gayle McLaughlin was elected mayor. Sandhu was nominated by Councilmember Jim Rogers, and Councilmember Nat Bates then made a substitute motion to appoint Corry Booze. Booze’s campaign ended on a vote of three ayes and five abstentions, with Butt, Bates and McLaughlin supporting Booze.
The vote for Sandhu was exactly the reverse, with Butt, Bates and McLaughlin abstaining. With five votes, Harpreet Sandhu became Richmond’s next councilmember.
Having been a runner-up myself in 1993 (104 votes short) and having been passed over with the City Council selecting an individual who had not run for election, I guess I have a personal affinity for runner-ups. I have walked in Corky’s shoes. I tend to believe that people who fill a public elected office should have to go through the rigors of a campaign to earn the right, so I have always supported the runner-up when the City Council fill a vacancy.
Harpreet Sandhu, who currently serves on the Richmond Human Relations Commission, is highly regarded and has a long history of community service in Richmond. He will make a fine councilmember, and I look forward to working with him.
Within the next couple of months, Eduardo Martinez, the runner-up in the November 2012 election, will most certainly be considered for appointment. Will the City Council follow tradition and select someone who has never been a candidate or who has not been a runner-up, or will we break tradition and select the runner-up?
Will Corky Booze, who complained bitterly at not being selected in 2007 as the runner-up, do the right thing and support the most recent runner-up? And, will Corky Booze honor the votes of Mayor McLaughlin and me back in 2007 by supporting our choice if it happens to be runner-up Eduardo Martinez?