The timeline for considering a replacement for Gary Bell will likely go something like this:
- 60 days runs out on March 8.
- January 15 - announce the vacancy and set the dates for the process
- January 31 - deadline for candidates statements
- February 12 - public hearing, probably a special, one item only meeting for the public hearing which would probably be time consuming.
At this time, while keeping an open mind, I am inclined to support Eduardo Martinez as the appointment to fill the vacant seat. Here’s why:
- Martinez was the first runner-up, running behind Gary Bell by only 518 votes. He received 10,956 votes, less than 1% fewer than Gary Bell and only about 3% less than Nat Bates. He may well have won if it weren’t for the $1.2 million Chevron funding of hit pieces against him and a campaign supporting Bates and Bell. (The City Council has never before supported runner-ups, but perhaps it should. All of the previously appointed non-runner-ups either later resigned, elected not to stand for re-election or were defeated in their bid for reelection).
- Eduardo is a progressive [registered] Democrat, and he fits politically comfortably into the seat vacated by Ritterman. The tone of the Council will be much the same as it was during the very productive last couple of years.
- He has made two runs for City Council and has been vetted by the process. He has no more skeletons (or pseudo-skeletons) in his closet that Chevron’s opposition research has not already unearthed.
- Eduardo would provide a currently underrepresented Latino presence on the City Council in a city that the 2010 Census reports 39.5% Latino.
- It would avoid a special election that will cost the City $100,000 to $200,000 and result in another bitter and divisive campaign that would probably go from February into June. It would again probably pit Chevron’s millions against a largely grass roots campaign of Eduardo and/or others. It would mean many late night City Council meetings, endless speakers at meetings, multiple candidate nights and, overall, a major distraction during a critical time of year when, among other things, the City’s budget is being formulated and voted on.
I am reasonably confident that Eduardo can get three votes, from McLaughlin, Beckles and me. He clearly will not be supported by Bates and Booze. Rogers purportedly has not made up his mind, but he is the swing vote that could result in Martinez’ appointment.
If Rogers does not support Martinez, it could very likely steer the process into a special election.
If you would like to urge Councilmember Rogers to support Eduardo Martinez, his contact information is on the City’s website at http://ca-richmond2.civicplus.com/index.aspx?nid=149.
I know some of you continue to have concerns about how the City Council and Chevron interact and what effect Eduardo might have on that. The reality of it is that the whole issue of Chevron and the RPA is blown way out of proportion. Over the last two to four years, the City has done everything Chevron has asked and then some, and the City Council has generally voted unanimously in support, including two key resolutions that directed City staff to process permit applications expeditiously. Chevron has had nothing but praise for the City’s ongoing processing of the refinery Renewal Project, and the permit for the Crude Unit repair was issued before Christmas. Even Nat Bates and Gary Bell, in the campaign, pledged to “hold Chevron accountable.” Frankly, relations between Chevron and the RPA are not a problem. I don’t believe there would be a significant difference in the City-Chevron relationship whether Gary Bell or Eduardo Martinez were to take the seat Jeff Ritterman now has.