Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
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  District 2 Election
December 24, 2022

The District 2 recount was completed yesterday, and Cesar Zepeda prevailed by three votes because three votes previously recorded for Andrew Butt were disallowed for technical reasons.

Andrew graciously congratulated Cesar and moved on.

I want to congratulate Cesar Zepeda on his hard-fought victory for Richmond City Council District 2. I also want to thank the many people who supported me, encouraged me, and voted for me. This has been one for the books, that's for sure. I'll continue to work to make Richmond a better place, it just won't be from behind the dais.

On a side note, I am proud of the campaign I ran, and that I fought to the end. The recount did in fact prove that the original count was inaccurate, just not in my favor.

Thanks to Cesar for being a very worthy opponent, and good luck to all those elected, and to our fair City of Richmond.

I am reminded of my first run for the Richmond City Council in 1993. I lost by 104 votes. Andrew certainly did better than I.

The only thing that bothers me about this race is the continuing malice of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), and for that matter, the Contra Costa Democratic machine, who see Cesar as one of their own and characterize the recount as an attack on democracy and voting rights.

A gloating RPA stalwart Kathleen Wimer posted on Facebook, “A new day. A Butt free City Council.” As Don Gosney noted, “In the 10 days between the time the recount was requested and the time it was concluded, local social media blew up with numerous allegations of attempts to steal the election.  Even leaders from a countywide political party made similar accusations—even though every registered voter has the right to request that every vote be counted, elections can turn hostile.”

In fact, the recount was requested pursuant to a statutory process just the same as an election. As Andrew said, it showed the original vote count by the County was, in fact, flawed.

In the 50 years I have lived in Richmond, I have watched the political pendulum swing several times. For most of the 20th Century, the industrial and business interests, with Chevron a prominent player, owned Richmond politics. The police and fire unions were typically part of that machine. I should note that I never had the support of that machine for most of my political career. I was always perceived as anti-business and far too progressive.

For the first 20 years of the 21st Century, the power of Chevron and Industry waned as the City Council became more balanced, embracing environmental issues, good government, progressive planning and social and environmental justice. Debates were spirited and contentious, but there remained a respect and collegiality among City Council members that no longer exists. We often went out for drinks together after sometimes bitter City Council meetings and talked about everything but City business.

In the last four, and especially the last two years, the RPA has joined with SEIU Local 1021, IFTPE Local 21 and the Contra Costa Democratic machine, to run the political table in Richmond. And their victories have brought a new sense of almost religious entitlement where their opponents are not just defeated but also villainized. At the recent DCCC Holiday Gathering, the DCCC candidate Zepeda waxed on about how, “…the Butts and their friends were singling him out with their unethical and ‘illegal’ efforts to steal the election.” 

With less than half of registered voters actually voting, it is fair to conclude that the new political landscape is supported by fewer than 25 percent of Richmond residents, but they are the ones who are willing to work hard and vote for the candidates they support. For better or worse, this is the new Richmond.

The following was provided by Don Gosney:

12.23.22 Richmond Recount Announcement
12.23.22 Post Recount Announcement Interview
12.23.22 Post Recount Interview