Three candidates emerge so far in race to become Richmond’s next mayor
Two council members and a consultant hope to replace termed-out Tom Butt
From left, Eduardo Martinez, Demnlus Johnson III and Shawn Dunning are running for Richmond Mayor in 2022. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) (Photo courtesy of Shawn Dunning)
By KATIE LAUER | firstname.lastname@example.org | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: January 23, 2022 at 6:11 a.m. | UPDATED: January 24, 2022 at 5:04 a.m.
RICHMOND — Without longtime Mayor Tom Butt standing in their way in the Nov. 8 election, two City Council members and a local consultant have jumped into the race to succeed him as Richmond’s top elected official.
In their bid to replace Butt, who terms out at the end of this year after having spent more than two decades in elected office, council members Eduardo Martinez and Demnlus Johnson III and consultant Shawn Dunning will have to scour for votes in a seemingly divided city, where municipal lawsuits, controversial housing developments and contentious public safety decisions have often dominated the public discourse.
Martinez is a retired West Contra Costa Unified School District teacher who has served on the council since 2014. He is backed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, a powerful local political group whose endorsed candidates make up the council majority
Martinez is proud of his votes to raise the local minimum wage above $15 an hour, stop the city from providing information about non-citizens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and clean up toxic development sites.
Martinez said his “green” agenda priorities for this year include regulating pollutants from the nearby Chevron refinery, tackling hazardous materials at the former AstraZeneca site and guiding development along the shoreline at Point Molate, which is in the middle of a legal battle.
“Resistance to big corporate interest will continue, but we’ll also be fighting for our vision of Richmond, where our city can show itself to be the economic center and cultural center we already know that it is,” Martinez said during his recent campaign kickoff.
“What I want to show is that progressive ideas are compatible with economic success, and that progressive ideas encourage safety and growth in our communities.”
If Martinez doesn’t win the race, he’ll term out at the end of the year along with Butt.
Johnson, who previously served as vice mayor, has voted more conservatively than Richmond Progressive Alliance-backed council members, often supporting housing developments clouded by environmental concerns and abstaining from votes cutting police budgets.
Johnson, 29, is a California policy and government relations manager for Jumpstart for Young Children, and also serves as president of the Black Elected Officials of the East Bay.
Johnson did not respond to requests for an interview.
Shawn Dunning is a self-proclaimed “outsider” in the race. The 46-year-old consultant says his more than 20 years of experience in “conflict resolution and peace building” locally and abroad is an asset in a race against candidates starting with more endorsements and name recognition.
“I see Richmond as a microcosm of the country in many ways,” Dunning said. “We’re extraordinarily diverse, and yet so separated. I think what happens is, very well meaning people work toward change, but the way it’s done doesn’t reach across the divides and is not collaborative. I think that’s the root of why we get such division, or the perception of such.”
Dunning, who has lived in city’s North & East neighborhood since 2016, said he’s preparing to host “hundreds” of listening forums in the months ahead to learn about the community’s needs and concerns before developing his own priorities and policy recommendations. He said he knows that decades-long issues such as housing, public safety and the economy will make the list.
“I know how naive and foolish it sounds for me to suggest that I truly can represent everyone, but that’s actually what I’m seeking to do,” Dunning said, framing his “experimental campaign” as an audition for his ability to lead and hold complex discussions.
“What I think we’ve failed at as a city is truly reaching out and getting more people involved.”