Richmond Progressive Alliance mayoral candidate Mike Parker withdraws, throws support to Tom Butt

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by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News, broadcast Aug. 9, 2014

Mike Parker, the mayoral candidate of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, has withdrawn from the race and thrown his support to Richmond City Councilor Tom Butt. He plans to redirect his energies to electing the RPA’s three candidates for the Richmond City Council.

Team Richmond: Mayoral candidate Mike Parker has withdrawn from the race to avoid splitting the progressive vote and will redirect his energies to electing Eduardo Martinez, Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles to the City Council.
Team Richmond: Mayoral candidate Mike Parker has withdrawn from the race to avoid splitting the progressive vote and will redirect his energies to electing Eduardo Martinez, Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles to the City Council.

Transcript

KPFA Evening News Anchor David Rosenberg: Mike Parker has withdrawn from the Richmond mayor’s race so as to avoid splitting the progressive vote between himself and City Councilor Tom Butt, resulting in a victory for City Councilor Nat Bates, the candidate backed by Chevron, the corporation that owns and operates the Richmond oil refinery. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Retired auto worker, labor activist and community college teacher Mike Parker was, until Friday, the mayoral candidate of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, also known as the RPA. The RPA includes Mayor Gayle Mclaughlin, who has served as mayor since her first election in November 2006.

McLaughlin will term out as mayor at the end of this year, but she is running for the City Council seat she first won in 2004. Mike Parker explained Richmond and the RPA at the Labor Festival in San Francisco just over a month ago.

Mike Parker: Let me just tell you a little bit about Richmond, California. It’s in the Bay Area. It’s a working class city. It doesn’t have a community college. It’s about 40 percent Latino, 25 percent Black, 15 percent Asian, and the unemployment rate is about twice the rate in the surrounding counties.

This campaign is about Chevron Corp. trying to retake control of the City Council it lost over the past eight years. The story of how we did it over this period of time is long and complicated and basically a story of patient organizing and working with social movements.

Mike Parker, the mayoral candidate of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, has withdrawn from the race and thrown his support to Richmond City Councilor Tom Butt. He plans to redirect his energies to electing the RPA’s three candidates for the Richmond City Council.

The current mayor is a registered Green. The election itself – the elections for City Council – are non-partisan, so the RPA essentially consists of a coalition of independents, Greens, liberal Democrats, and various and assorted other folks, all of whom understand that this is an independent political project. In Richmond, the RPA is treated as another political party, as opposed to the Democrats, even though many of the members still support Democrats on a national basis.

The current mayor is termed out. She is probably the most popular politician in Richmond, but she can’t run again for mayor, so she is running on a slate with us, for Council, and there are two other people running for Council, so that we keep a majority on the Council.

Are we going to win? Well, we’re expecting to win, except for the fact that Chevron is now spending, by my estimates, $25 million to defeat us. About $20 million in “good works money” to buy off various and sundry nonprofits and service providers and only about $5 million directly for their candidates. So there are no guarantees, but we still expect to win.

Mike Parker
Mike Parker

KPFA: Here’s Mike Parker speaking at the July 22nd Richmond City Council meeting in favor of the four conditions that the Richmond Planning Commission voted to require of Chevron before issuing its refinery expansion permit:

Mike Parker: Do not accept that fixing these spewers of deadly particulates somehow gives Chevron license to increase 61 other toxic contaminants from the refinery. It is as though Chevron is claiming that the law grandfathers in its right to poison us. Do not agree that they have the right to continue to poison us.

KPFA: The Richmond City Council did not uphold the conditions that the Planning Commission had voted to impose on Chevron, which were also adamantly supported by the RPA. Councilor Tom Butt distinguished himself from the RPA by voting against the conditions, but he has voted with the RPA far more often than Chevron’s candidate, Councilor Nat Bates.

Butt and Parker both reported that they had conferred with one another before making the choices they considered best for Richmond. Contra Costa Times writer Richard Rogers wrote that Bates and Butt are polar opposites, that their voting records prove that, and that “the outcome could steer the city either toward the progressive direction it’s been on for years or toward policies more amenable to Chevron and other industry groups.”

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Counterpunch, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com. This story first appeared on her website. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at anngarrison.com.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The third candidate was entirely left out of this report. Worth a second look. Butt may be more progressive than Bates but not voting for someone who doesn’t agree with a higher minimum wage and has only worked to improve the rich white part of Richmond. A throughout investigating will show he isn’t the best choice for progressive.

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