Tom Butt
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  Why the RPA Can't Get the Election Results Certified
January 10, 2023

Why the RPA Can't Get the Election Results Certified

A combination of missing RPA City Council members, an incompetent and corrupt city attorney and a disorganized Contra Costa County Elections Division created a perfect storm where certification of newly electeds Eduardo Martinez, Cesar Zepeda, Doria Robinson and Soheila Bana will occur, if at all, only two hours before they are scheduled to be sworn in today at 5:00 PM.

A Special City Council meeting was called by Martinez, McLaughlin, Jimenez and Willis (The Charter allows four City Council members to call a special meeting) for January 9, 2023, at 10:00 AM for the purpose of certifying the election results and allowing the newly elected to be sworn in. Unfortunately, only four City Council members showed up – including me. Melvin Willis, who was one of the four who called the meeting, failed to show up.

There were only three affirmative votes to certify the election. I abstained because the requested action, “Adopt a resolution Declaring the Canvass of Returns and Results of the General Municipal Election held on November 8, 2022, for District 2,” did not include the information required by both State law and the Richmond Municipal Code. Both require that the statement of results include the “the number of votes cast at each precinct for each candidate”.  GC 15374(2) and RMC 2.16.030(e).

The Contra Costa Elections Division failed to provide that information to the City, and the city attorney failed to notice that it was missing.

Shiva Mishek, the RPA communications chair and rumored future chief of staff for Mayor-elect Eduardo Martinez, blamed Willis’ absence on his need to work instead of attending a City Council meeting. She wrote on Facebook:

To be fair to Johnson and Willis: the way City Council is structured is such that, unless a council member is retired or independently wealthy (or a freelancer, as in Claudia's case), they have to hold day jobs. They're each paid 16k a year. This was done so working people could ostensibly participate in governance (although I think this approach and salary does a huge disservice to council members and the city). So, if a Council member isn't granted time off (which happened today), they can't participate. Unclear why Bates wasn't present, and I think this meeting should have been scheduled at a time to accommodate those holding inflexible day jobs.

Apparently, Melvin Willis’ employer, ACCE, would not give him time off to attend a City Council meeting.

There will be another City Council meeting at 3:00 PM today to try and accomplish the certification.

Assuming the certification is successful, RPA City Council members (and members-elect) will move to Bridge Storage for a private swearing-in ceremony paid for by Mayor-elect Eduardo Martinez.