Tom Butt
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  Two Richmond City Council Members Aspire to Statewide Offices
May 23, 2017

With almost no coverage from the local traditional press, two Richmond City Council members are starting campaigns for statewide office.

Jovanka Beckles has announced her candidacy to fill the Assembly District 15 vacancy that will be created by Tony Thurmond running for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Gayle McLaughlin has filed an exploratory committee to run for lieutenant governor. See The Bernie Sanders of the East Bay is exploring run for Lt. Gov.


Beckles intends to run as a Democrat, and McLaughlin intends to run as No Party Preference (NPP). Both Beckles and McLaughlin would be tested in the June 2018 primary. If they survive that, they would not be able to run for both statewide office and Richmond City Council in November of 2018.

The presumption is that both will have significant opposition. Several Oakland and Berkeley elected officials have expressed interest in the Assembly District 15 seat.

Both have affiliated themselves with the “Berniecrats” that mounted a nearly successful challenge to the more moderate Democrats in the recent race for chair of the California Democratic Party.

Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles Announces Run for State Assembly

By Gillian Edevane*367/jOVANKA+BECKLES.jpg
Jovanka Beckles announced plans to run for the District 15 seat in the California State Assembly on May 4, 2017.

Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles announced Thursday she will run for the District 15 seat in the California State Assembly. 

If elected in 2018, she would replace Rep. Tony Thurmond, who announced his campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state's top education post, back in April. 

Beckles said she will work on universal healthcare, affordable housing, and closing corporate tax loopholes if elected. She has vowed not to accept any corporate campaign contributions.

"I am running because I share the frustration of my neighbors from Hercules to Oakland in the East Bay, who are tired of broken promises on important issues," she said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. 

Assembly District 15 stretches from Hercules in Contra Costa County to a swath of Oakland in Alameda County. Voters have steadfastly and overwhelmingly appointed Democrats to the position.

Beckles, who made history in 2010 as the city's first openly-lesbian councilwoman, is the first person to announce her candidacy. 

Throughout her two terms, Beckles has been a progressive voice on the Richmond City Council. She was a vocal supporter of Richmond's controversial new rent control law and ruffled feathers last year when she verbally sparred with some council members over the issue. She also has a track record of supporting unions.

Her outspoken nature has often made her a target, as chronicled in a San Francisco Chronicle profile piece in 2014. 

"She remained strong on environmental protections for Richmond communities against Chevron, and she will continue to work for the people if elected to the Assembly," said fellow Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin in an endorsement statement.

Her other endorsements include Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington and Ericka Huggins, an activist and former Black Panther leader.

Source: Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles Announces Run for State Assembly | NBC Bay Area

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Bernie Sanders of the East Bay is exploring run for Lt. Gov.

Richmond Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin
formed an exploratory committee for state
lieutenant governor.

As a Richmond mayor and councilmember Gayle McLaughlin railed against Chevron, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, for its environmental indecency, sought to protect residents from the cold grip of home foreclosures by Big Banks through eminent domain and backed working people and immigrants at every turn by raising the city's minimum wage and becoming a sanctuary city.

Now McLaughlin, currently serving on the Richmond City Council, is eyeing a possible run next year for state lieutenant governor. On Monday, she filed to form an exploratory campaign committee. The move allows her to begin fundraising.

McLaughlin's aspirations for higher office follows two other elected officials from Richmond in just the past month. Former Richmond Councilmember and current Assemblymember Tony Thurmond announced his candidacy for state superintendent of public instruction last month and McLaughlin's council mate, Jovanka Beckles, announced last week she is running to replace Thurmond in Sacramento.

But for McLaughlin, her rise in Richmond began in 2004 when she was elected to the City Council as a member of the Green Party. Two years later, she gained some national renown when she was elected mayor for two terms, making her one of the Green Party's most successful electoral victories nationwide. McLaughlin's popularity in Richmond continued after she was termed out after eight years in 2014 with a quick return to the City Council that year.

By Steven Tavares