Tom Butt
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  Takeaways From Richmond 2022 Election
November 9, 2022

The big winner last night was the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), which increased their City Council seats from a majority to a supermajority. And they did it without a single candidate scoring a majority vote..

In the mayor’s race, as I predicted, Eduardo Martinez took home the prize with barely more than a third of the vote. Shawn Dunning and Nat Bates split most of what was left. The takeaway is that 63.93% of voters did not support Martinez, but he won anyway and will be our mayor for the next four years. Early on, I urged both Dunning and Bates to consider one of them standing down, taking a bullet, and making this a one-on-one race. But egos prevailed, and now we are stuck with a mayor unsupported by a majority of residents. This is a trend that the RPA has exploited from the beginning, running a single candidate who can beat a field of contenders who split the non-RPA vote.

In a one-on-one District 2 race, Andrew Butt scored a majority 53.38% of the vote, handily beating challenger Cesar Zepeda. Zepeda was a formidable candidate who clearly won the endorsement contest with the entire local Democratic establishment, the powerful RPA-affiliated public employee union SEIU, the East Bay Times, and others, showing that these organizations are out of touch with what Richmond voters really want. Cesar is not a card-carrying RPA candidate, but he shared endorsers with the RPA candidates, including SEIU and the Democratic Party establishment, which continues to veer left.

Backed by the RPA, District 3 candidate Doria Robinson pulled off another victory with a little over a third of the vote. Corky Booze and Oscar Garcia split the rest with not enough for either of them to prevail. Doria claims not to be an RPA member, and she may not carry a card, but her heart is RPA through and through. She will be soon be faced with what to do about her conflict of interest related to the $35 million Transformative Climate Communities grant that is slated to provide Urban Tilth, the nonprofit she heads, with millions of dollars of City of Richmond contracts.

In the El Sobrante Valley (and part of Hilltop), Soheila Bana soundly trounced RPA candidate Jamin Pursell in the other one-on-one race. Jamin was also endorsed by the Democratic Party establishment.

So, in the only two one-on-one races, RPA and RPA-friendly candidates were soundly defeated. This has been going on for years. The RPA rarely wins in a one-on-one race, but when multiple challengers split the vote, that’s it. Democracy is supposed to be majority rule, but in Richmond politics, democracy is minority rule.