At City Chambers, council candidates take seats they hope to fill in November


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Residents got a glimpse of what this year’s city council candidates would look like on the dais in the city council chamber during a candidates’ forum on Monday evening.

Ten of the 11 candidates attended the forum, moderated by the League of Women Voters and the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council. Anthony Green was absent.

“It amazes me that there are so many candidates for three seats,” said resident Karen Leong Fenton.

Fenton said watching the forum has helped because it normally depends on newspaper coverage to understand city council dynamics.

“And I haven’t made up my mind,” Fenton said. “So [the forum] was revealing.

Public participation was not as strong as most city council meetings, with rows of empty chairs in the room, but the occupied seats were filled with several familiar faces.

Regulars Wesley Ellis, Don Gosney, Andres Soto and Jackie Thompson, who recently stepped down as a volunteer for board member Corky Booze, were in attendance.

Current board members Jeff Ritterman, Booze and Jovanka Beckles sat across the platform during the forum, invisible and inaudible until the mediators opened up to questions.

Jovanka Beckles asked candidate Marilyn Langlois to address a campaign letter sent this week that accused Langlois of not having paid his federal taxes during the years 2007 and 2008.

The mail was sent by Moving Forward, a coalition of businesses, unions and other associations, which also created a website opposing Langlois’ election.

Langlois confirmed at the meeting and in a statement released Monday that she had refused to pay her federal taxes in a “resistance to war taxes as a symbolic gesture to protest the use of federal tax money for the illegal and destructive war in Iraq “.

As at previous forums at the Richmond Senior Center and Point Richmond, Chevron’s future with the city was discussed and was used by residents and council members as a way to distinguish candidates from one another.

Along with Beckles, Ritterman posed a question to Langlois, asking if she thought there was any danger in having city council members beholden to Chevron, naming Nat Bates, Gary Bell and Bea Roberson as the ones the company pays to be elected.

Langlois said it is important that applicants stay separate from the companies and hold Chevron accountable.

Bell said he did not receive funding from Chevron after a resident asked him if he would recuse himself from voting on items related to the business.

Monday’s discussion included the latest development with the refinery, which is the decision to appeal a ruling on its tax assessments. In April, the county appraisal appeals board dismissed Chevron’s 2007-2009 tax appeal, when the company said it was overtaxed by up to $ 73 million.

“You’d think what happened on August 6, and the pipe bypassed, and pure public relations would say [Chevron], ‘OK, we’re going to wait before we try to do that and insult them again by trying to take money,’ ”candidate Jael Myrick said.

The next Candidates’ Forum will take place this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at St. Peter CME Church in El Cerrito.

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