Tom Butt
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  Initial Richmond Election Results - 13,000 Ballots Still Out
November 8, 2018

The results are in, and we have prevailed. While there are still ballots that remain to be counted, our margin of 15% is wide enough that we are declaring victory.

Thank you so much for everything you have done to make this possible. Thank you to everyone who endorsed us, donated generously, knocked on doors, made phone calls, and put up signs. Thank you to my tireless campaign manager, Christina Zirker and my entire campaign team. This truly was a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without you.

I also want to congratulate Vice Mayor Melvin Willis on a hard fought race. I wish him and his supporters the best, and look forward to continuing to work with him on the City Council in the months and years ahead.

I welcome Councilmember Eduardo Martinez back to the Council, as well as Councilmember-elect Demnlus Johnson, and “newcomer” Nat Bates, who we all know for his many years of service to our city.

Now the work of moving Richmond forward continues. And as our city does move forward, we must ensure that we move forward together. 

Over the next four years, let’s remain fiercely committed to economic justice, so everyone in Richmond, in every neighborhood, has a fair shot at a quality education and good job.

Let’s focus on cleaning up our air and cracking down on those polluters who disregard the public health.

We will work to reduce gun violence and continue to strengthen the trust between our community and the police department.

We will continue our work building affordable housing, so that everyone who wants to live here can afford a home in Richmond.

And of course, we will continue to stand up to Donald Trump and his hateful agenda. I am so hopeful to see the Democrats take back the House and wish our once and future Speaker, Nancy Pelosi all the best.

Thank you so much again for everything you did to make this victory possible. I am honored to be your mayor for four more years and look forward to working closely with you over the next four years to continue to move Richmond forward.

The election night results are shown below, based on 15,682 ballots counted. An estimated 13,000 ballots are still uncounted and probably won’t be totally counted until Thanksgiving, or even into December.

It is unlikely that the order will change, but the number of votes for any one candidate could double.

I am disappointed that Measure T did not pass. It had a strong majority vote but needed 2/3 to prevail. The same measure passed in Oakland, and they will have millions o dollars to spend on homelessness and code enforcement.

Election results below courtesy of Don Gosney

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt re-elected; tax on vacant property defeated

By Ali Tadayon | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: November 6, 2018 at 9:43 pm | UPDATED: November 7, 2018 at 10:53 am

RICHMOND — Despite ongoing clashes with City Council members, incumbent Mayor Tom Butt won re-election for a second term Tuesday.

The race between Butt and opponent Melvin Willis, who currently serves as vice mayor, was contentious and full of mudslinging in both directions — much like recent City Council meetings. Willis is one of five council members backed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, a powerful local political group also known as the RPA. Members of the RPA and Butt have often had contentious confrontations.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Butt received 57.49 percent support with 8,758 votes.

A tax that would have taxed owners of vacant property to raise money for services for the homeless and affordable housing failed to garner a required two-thirds majority to pass.

The RPA lost its council super-majority in Tuesday’s election. Although Eduardo Martinez retained his seat with 4,616 votes, Ada Recinos trailed behind other candidates in the crowded council race. The third RPA-backed incumbent, Jovanka Beckles, gave up her seat to focus on her unsuccessful bid for Assembly District 15.

Nat Bates — who served as mayor twice and spent more than 30 years on the council before being unseated by Butt in 2014 — was elected to one of the three council seats up for election, coming in third with 4,458 votes. The other council seat went to Richmond High school community organizer Demnlus Johnson, who got the most votes — 4,852.

Bates and Johnson had 10.82 percent and 11.77 percent of the votes; Martinez had 11.2 percent.

Former city Councilmen Jim Rogers and Vinay Pimplé were among the top candidates, but didn’t make it to the top three.

Other candidates included Richmond Police Department crime prevention specialist Diego Garcia, health and benefit analyst Cesar Zepeda, activist Carole Johnson, doctoral candidate and tutor Keith Rivers, realtor Eleanor Thompson, business development consultant David Schoenthal and community organizer Virginia Ramirez.

Two Richmond measures were on the ballot: a tax on vacant properties, with the money going toward homelessness services and affordable housing, and an increase on the real estate transfer tax for properties selling for more than $1 million. Revenue from the transfer tax will go into the general fund, which means it can be used for any public purpose.

The tax on vacant property — which would have generated an estimated $5.1 million a year — received 8,992 votes, but failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass. With all precincts reporting, the measure only had 58.17 percent support.

The transfer tax measure passed with 9,997 votes. It will increase the rate from 0.7 percent to 1.25 percent for properties selling for less than $3 million, 2.5 percent for properties selling for more than that and 3 percent for properties selling for more than $10 million. The increase is expected to generate about $4.8 million annually.

East Bay Express

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt Cruises to Reelection Victory

By Robert Gammon

Tom Butt.
Tom Butt

Incumbent Tom Butt easily won reelection as mayor of Richmond, defeating Councilmember Melvin Willis Jr., 57.49 percent to 42.41 percent.

The Richmond City Council race, however, is still much too close to call. With the 100 percent of precincts reporting, the contest has seven candidates still in the running for three seats:

Demlus Johnson: 11.77%
Eduardo Martinez (I): 11.20%
Nathaniel “Nat” Bates: 10.82%
Cesar Zepeda: 9.86%
Vinay Pimplé: 9.72%
Jim Rogers: 9.51%
Ada Recinos (I): 8.76%

There are still thousands of late mail-in and provisional ballots to count in Richmond.

Richmond's Measure T, a tax on vacant property, failed to garner the needed two-thirds vote to pass.

Measure T (needs 66.67%)
Yes: 58.17%
No: 41.83%*

Richmond Confidential

Election results: RPA loses grip, Mayor Butt re-elected

Richmond Confidential on November 6, 2018

By Betty Marquez Rosales, Edward Booth and Barbara Harvey

The Richmond Progressive Alliance appears to have lost its majority on the Richmond City Council, with early results indicating the election Tuesday of two candidates not affiliated with the left-leaning political group that has transformed city politics in recent years.

As of Wednesday afternoon, incumbent Eduardo Martinez, a member of the RPA, had enough votes to be re-elected for another term on the city council. But in the race for three open seats, the other two top vote getters were community worker Demnlus Johnson III and former mayor Nat Bates, neither endorsed by the RPA.  

Councilmember Ada Recinos, who is affiliated with the RPA, did not win election. And Jovanka Beckles, another councilmember supported by the political group, did not seek re-election in order to run for a state assembly seat against Buffy Wicks.

Under the RPA, the city has expanded rent control, halted oil giant Chevron’s control over city politics and pushed for housing developments to include more units of affordable housing.

If the initial results are confirmed, RPA candidates would no longer hold the majority on the city council that they won in recent years. Only three of the seven city councilmembers in the next term would be affiliated with the RPA.

As of Wednesday morning, 37 percent of registered voters ballots had been counted.  But the actual turnout wasn’t clear because there were many ballots still to be counted, including an estimated 151,000 sent by mail. In 2016, about 79 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

A final tally could be weeks away. The county has up to 30 days to report to the Secretary of State the final number of ballots cast, according to Contra Costa County election official Melissa Hickok.

Tuesday’s results also suggested incumbent mayor Tom Butt held on to his seat against his RPA-affiliated opponent Melvin Willis in his bid to serve a second term.
With all 63 precincts reporting, Butt held a lead of 57 percent of the vote to Willis’ 42 percent, with a 2,000-vote margin. At his watch party Tuesday night, where more than 30 people had gathered in the corner room of Point Richmond’s Brezo restaurant, Butt appeared comfortable with his substantial lead.
Jovanka Beckles, left, hugs Melvin Willis, right, at an election watch party at the Richmond Progressive Alliance headquarters on Tuesday night. (Photo by Meiying Wu)

“We have never worked harder, spent more money, made more phone calls, knocked on more doors,” he said.

“Thank you Richmond for allowing me to serve you for another term,” he said in a post Wednesday afternoon on Facebook.
In 2014, Butt ran for mayor on the same ticket as RPA-backed candidates, siding with their staunch anti-Chevron platform. Butt has since soured against the political group over philosophical differences on housing and law enforcement. The RPA supports expanding rent control, which Butt vehemently opposes.

In his second term, Butt is expected to continue his push to attract developers to Richmond. An architect by trade, the mayor was a staunch opponent of Proposition 10, the failed state measure that would have allowed individual cities to set their own rent control laws. The proposition was one of the main ideological drivers for Willis, who continues to work as an organizer for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a housing rights non-profit.

Willis, currently the vice mayor, will retain his current seat on the city council, and will be up for re-election in 2020.

The top vote-getter in the city council race, 25-year-old Johnson, is the youngest person ever elected to the city council. As of early Wednesday afternoon, he had received 4,852 votes, comprising 11.77 percent.
Richmond City Council candidate Demnlus Johnson III talks to supporters at his election night watch party late Tuesday. (Photo by Wesaam Al-Badry)

Martinez had taken in 11.2 percent, only 236 votes behind Johnson. Bates was a close third, with 10.82 percent of the vote.

Johnson, raised in the Iron Triangle in Richmond, ran an energetic campaign that resonated across the city. He was still awake at 3:19 a.m. Wednesday morning watching the results pour in on the country election page.

“We won! It’s confirmed!” he texted a Richmond Confidential reporter.

He said he planned to meet with city department leaders and go on a listening tour to better understand the city’s needs.  He added that his team is “looking to work with more like-minded individuals who are looking to make a change.”

The apparent defeat of Recinos, and Beckles’ decision to pursue the state assembly seat, leaves the city council without any female member during the next term. Recinos was the only Spanish speaker, and her departure leaves the council without any Spanish speaker in a city with a substantial Latino population.

Sue Wilson, a member of the RPA steering committee, said she was concerned about Recinos’ defeat, in part because the council would have no female members in the next term.

“I think we are all worse off not having Ada’s perspective on the council,” she said.

Asked how the change would affect Richmond, Wilson said the political group remained optimistic about the city’s future.

“We believe that this new city council will be able to do good work together,” Wilson said. “The overall direction of our city government in the last decade has been in the direction of progressive values, and that the RPA has played an important role in that.”

West Contra Costa Unified School District Board: Hernández-Jarvis top vote-getter

With three seats up for grabs in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, teacher Stephanie Hernández-Jarvis has won 14.54 percent of the votes counted so far. Incumbent Valerie Cuevas was the next highest vote-getter with 14.14 percent, and former teacher Consuelo Lara also looked likely to take a seat with 13.94 percent. Two incumbents, Madeline Kronenberg and Elizabeth Block, appeared to narrowly fail to secure seats, the initial votes indicated, with 100,329 votes counted in the race so far.

The school board winners would serve for two years, as opposed to the normal four, as a result of the district switching from an at-large voting system to a district-based one. This switch is expected to be implemented during the 2020 election, when all five school board seats will be open.

Measure FF adopted, funding East Bay Regional Park District.
Mail-in voters in Contra Costa County cast ballots overwhelmingly in favor of regional Measure FF, which will extend an expiring $1 per month parcel tax on properties in western Alameda and Contra Costa counties. With more than 32,000 votes counted, about 80 percent of voters approved the measure.

Measure H adopted to raise property transfer tax.
Sixty-three percent of voters supported passing Measure H. The measure would increase property transfer taxes on Richmond properties valued over $1 million. Currently, there’s a blanket 0.7 percent tax on the transfer of all properties. Properties valued between $1 million and $3 million would face a 1.25 percent tax, while owners of properties valued between $3 million and $10 million would see the tax rise to 2.5 percent. Properties with a value over $10 million would be taxed at 3 percent.

Measure T, the proposal to tax most vacant property, fails.
Fifty-eight percent of Richmond voters sought to pass Measure T but it failed to get the required two-thirds majority. The measure sought to place a tax on most vacant properties. The revenue would have funded homeless services and supported affordable housing, in addition to efforts to fight blight and illegal dumping.
Mara Kardas-Nelson, Christi Warren, Alex Nieves, Brandon Yadegari, Tessa Paoli and Ravleen Kaur contributed to this story.

Mayor Butt Keeps Seat, Council Incumbent Recinos Out, Bates And Johnson In

Bay City News Service
Published 2:57 am PST, Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Incumbent Richmond Mayor Tom Butt held on to his seat by a healthy margin Tuesday when 57 percent of registered voters chose him over challenger Melvin Lee Willis Jr., according to unofficial election results.

Willis, currently the city's vice mayor, got 42 percent of the vote.

Butt has served on the Richmond City Council since 1995, and has formerly served as vice mayor in 2002 and 2003. He's also been a Richmond resident since 1973, according to a short biography posted on the city's website.

On the City Council, incumbent Eduardo Martinez will be keeping his seat. He'll be joined by Nathaniel "Nat" Bates, who got 10.82 percent of the vote, and Demnlus Johnson III who took 11.77 percent.

Incumbent Ada Recinos got just 8.76 percent of the vote and will not be returning after her term expires in January.

Jovanka Beckles did not run for re-election, seeking higher office instead. In a bid for District 15 of the state Assembly, she lost to fellow Democrat Buffy Wicks 55 percent to 44.