2018 SC bios

The RPA Steering Committee Nominating Committee presents to the membership this talented and diverse slate for election to serve as our steering committee for the 2018-2020 term. We believe each of these candidates share RPA’s core values:

One Richmond. A united community can take on the problems of economic inequality, crime and violence, and the environmental crisis, which destroy our children’s future, our infrastructure, and our safety nets.

Large corporations have too much power in our society. In all our activities and campaigns we refuse contributions from corporations and try to answer their power with the voluntary activity of large numbers of people.

Democracy is about government transparency, the public making the important decisions, working with elected officials, holding them accountable, and ending the back room politics of corporations using their power, pulling strings, buying support.

Diversity of and respect for each other's ideas. We don't all agree on every issue. We do agree on the need to build a strong progressive movement where people support each other.

Below is a brief introduction to each 2018-2020 RPA Steering Committee Nominee.

 

Jovanka Beckles

Richmond City Councilmember

I am a Richmond resident and lived here for over 20 years. I have been with RPA for many years. As many of you know, I am the first and only openly gay Richmond city council member. I have also strived to be a progressive voice in our community. Some highlights of my council work include:

  • I helped pass our local rent control measure and called for greater scrutiny of Chevron, which spent over $3 million attempting to defeat me in 2014.
  • Big Soda spent also millions when I campaigned to tax their unhealthy products and invest the funds in nutrition and youth athletics.
  • Working with law enforcement, I created the Richmond Municipal ID Program that allows immigrants to safely identify themselves to the police, and authored an ordinance for police accountability and transparency.
  • I introduced and led the effort to raise the minimum wage and “banned the box” for city contractors and public housing applications in Richmond, removing this barrier for the formerly incarcerated to help them reintegrate into their community.

I was born in Panama City and my family immigrated to the U.S. in 1972. I attended Florida A&M University on a full basketball scholarship and graduated cum laude in 1988 with a B.A. in psychology. Later I earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix. I work full time as a Contra Costa County mental health counselor for at-risk youth.

I support the vision that the people of Richmond know RPA as the organization in town that has their back. RPA’s structure and commitment to meaningful interaction within neighborhoods, community groups, and our allies contribute to RPA’s continued strength and accomplishments.

For my part for this coming term, I will contribute what I know from the vantage point of having been a city councilmember to inform Steering Committee deliberations. I will encourage and, to the extent I am able, will support policy development that percolates up through Action Teams and the RPA membership at-large.

 

Porschea Brown

RPA Rep, Lift Up Contra Costa Coalition

I am a Richmond resident. I was raised on the Southside in the Cortez/Stege neighborhood. In 2008, I was accepted to Howard University in Washington D.C. After graduating with a Masters in Social Work in 2013, I moved back to Richmond and started working as a financial coach at Rubicon Programs. Reconnecting with the community, I participated in several RPA and B-MOER campaigns and initiatives.  I volunteered with the Richmond Police Activities League (PAL) with children activities.

I was promoted to Senior Financial Coach within 7 months. I was later promoted to Financial Services Project Manager. In this role I am responsible for overall project management and coordination related to the Financial Services design model that supports Rubicon participants and graduates by improving access to financial services to increase individual earning potential. I provide client consultation and outreach services for job seekers with barriers to employment and I coordinate program opportunities with local stakeholders. I am also responsible for overseeing a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program tat returned over $700k in federal and state refunds back to the community. 

I am a Rockwood Leadership fellow and I am trained as a circle keeper to lead restorative healing circles. I started a women empowerment group over 3 years ago and we continue to meet weekly. In the past years I served as an assistant program administrator for the District of Columbia Superior Courts Supervised Visitation Center and a U.S. Congress intern for former Congressman Edolphus Towns where I worked on the implementation of the Congressional Social Work Caucus. In 2013, I was selected as a Student Ambassador to represent Howard University School of Social Work in Cape Town, South Africa. During this two-week intense learning experience, I visited a number of Social Service agencies and I had the pleasure of developing an after school program for a CBO. 

I believe that change and progress begins with an awareness of self and systems. Change and progress requires a desire to want to experience something new and better. New ideas need goals, a plan, and action.

We need more African American women and men in the leadership and in the membership of the RPA. I want to expand its diversity and collectively build a strong alliance with other promising young women and men of color. I understand that the RPA should use its considerable influence in local government to facilitate the development in the community of social enterprises that benefit Richmond residents.

 

Michelle Chan

Recording Secretary

In the past two years I have served as on the RPA Steering Committee as Recording Secretary. I also publish The Activist, the RPA e-newsletter that comes out bi-weekly. In the last election season, I phone banked, canvassed, and helped host a house party for Team Richmond candidates. I have lived in the North and East neighborhood of Richmond for about 15 years, and my husband and I have a 4-year-old son. As a working mom, I have limited time, but am interested in serving the RPA in whatever capacity can be the most useful.

I am the Vice President of Programs at Friends of the Earth (FOE), where I spent most of my 20 years working on Wall Street reform. FOE has a political arm, and most of my political experience is at the national level. I also serve as the Vice Chair of Amazon Watch, a group that has been very active in campaigning against ChevronTexaco. I served on the Board of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment for over 10 years, which disburses grants to community-based organizations and environmental justice groups.

 

Ruscal Cayangyang
Finance/Governance or office committee

(new nominee, will choose in the next two months)

My past experience includes serving on the Vallejo School Board as President (and Governance Committee); Napa Valley College Board (and Audit Subcommittee); and Better Vallejo Steering Committee. I assisted the State Treasurer for the Green Party of California (also on the Finance Committee and was a field organizer), and was a student ambassador for Campaign for College Opportunity, serving also on the City of Vallejo Youth Commission. I have gained valuable skills in the areas of advocacy, governance, legislation, and finance. I hope to use my skills and past experience to help RPA meet its mission, goals, governance, and finances.

As a school board member and RPA member who believes in our core values, I review policies, procedures, and budgets, then identify what is not working and share best practices. I am familiar with the RPA bylaws that our membership approved in September 2015 and am eager to assist the new RPA Governance and Finance Standing Committee to improve our bylaws and research legislation to address our community challenges. I’m interested in Prop 13 reform, housing, crime reduction, and the environment.

As a young Filipino, I believe in open government. I’ve held office hours and town halls to listen to the people and advocate their ideas and concerns to a variety of policymakers. While on the Better Valley Steering Committee we hold the City of Vallejo accountable to improve its human rights campaign ratings to support LGBTQ residents. As an RPA Steering Committee member, I would hold office hours with people, research best practices, and advocate changing legislation toward improving diversity and end oppression.

 

Chris Broglio

Office Committee Chair

I am a Richmond resident and I have worked on several campaigns with RPA. I’m good at phone banking, canvassing, and other types of campaign work.  I have served on the Office Standing Committee for about 10 months and recently trained on more parts of the office duties. At present I am retired, so have more time to put in for RPA and I’m happy to co-chair the Office Committee, with Susan Hybloom.

I’m very interested in helping people and serve on two other related local groups as well. I volunteer with a racial justice group, the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition which aims to influence our county commission on criminal justice. We pushed the sheriff to not build the new jail in Richmond and for the Criminal Justice Task Force to do its job.  I also work with Reuniting Families Contra Costa, a new group in our county, that supports families of people who are incarcerated as they struggle to navigate with the jail and prison system.

RPA is successful force in the Richmond community and it is poised to expand into a regional and perhaps national powerhouse for progressive values. We face organizational challenges to make our intentions reality. We must attract new leaders to our staff of retiring activists, and to become a full-time (not part-time) organization. And we must raise more funds in order to carry out the many things we want to achieve. RPA has proven that the seemingly impossible can be accomplished with a shoestring budget and truly dedicated progressives. Imagine what we could do regionally when we become better funded. As chair of the Office Committee I pledge myself to these ends and will make every effort to provide a solid operational support to our community.  This means a dedication to providing a clean and well functioning office space, phone banking support for fundraising, and assistance in accomplishing the ancillary tasks that go into running a growing organization.

 

Peter Chau

Schools Action Team (currently on leave)

I live in Richmond and reside in the Hilltop Green neighborhood. I am an active member of RPA and participate in the RPA Schools Action Team. I have advised the RPA Steering Committee on issues related to public education. I am also an advisor to Richmond City Council members on issues related to Richmond public education. In 2011 I worked with RPA promoting a half-cent sales tax and in 2016 I helped the campaign of RPA-endorsed candidates to City Council Ben Choi and Melvin Willis. I provided campaign guidance to reach Asian voters.

I believe that change and progress occur when a group of likeminded individuals rally behind a comprehensive, cohesive vision and execute that vision according to a strategic plan. In Richmond, that meant creating an independent progressive organization and executing campaign strategies to get progressive councils members elected. This is what the RPA had done.

My knowledge and experiences with the West Contra Costa Unified School District are significant. I have over 13 years of volunteer experiences launching new programs like the Ivy League Connections and Mock Trial program; running multiple bond and parcel tax campaigns; serving on bond and budget oversight committees. I also ran for the school board in 2014 and was supported by 8,600 voters. In 2016 I worked with the RPA to oppose the sale and privatization of Adams School in unincorporated East Richmond Heights.

I would like RPA to become more active in public education causes in Richmond. Public education is one of the last frontiers that Wall Street is trying to privatize. I believe that we must focus on improving our public schools to stop Wall Street’s privatization efforts and improve the City of Richmond. Let's work together to improve our neighborhood schools!

I believe that charter schools will be the next wedge issue and that we must support and promote the NAACP’s and the United Teachers of Richmond’s calls for a moratorium on charter schools. We need to continue to promote the Nystrom Elementary School partnership model and work with Richmond City Councilmembers to ensure WCCUSD school board members to defend public education.

 

Millie Cleveland

SEIU Union Field Representative

Elections and Campaigns Committee

I am hoping that RPA will continue to be a respected organization recognized for advocating for progressive issues that affect the working-class residents of Richmond. I would like to see RPA play a primary role in educating the community on specific issues affecting the lack of affordable housing, educating residents on their rights contained within the just cause rent control program, supporting reforms addressing racial injustice in the criminal justice system, and fighting to preserve essential public sector services. SEIU Local 1021 prides itself in being a social justice organization fighting for the rights of all workers in unions or not, and documented or not.  As a labor representative I would like to work on the Election Committee working to have union members actively working to elect progressive candidates that address the values reflected in RPA’s mission statement.  In particular, I would like to help organize efforts to pass needed ballot initiatives such as the soda tax and increasing the property transfer tax to support the City’s ability to preserve essential public sector services for Richmond residents, and to work on the repeal of Costa Hawkins so more residents can be protected by rent control.

SEIU is a strategic partner with RPA. We worked together to put rent control on the ballot and successfully elect two RPA candidates to the City Council. We have supported five RPA candidates in the last four years. We look forward to working with RPA on the City’s budget and building a stronger progressive organizing infrastructure in Richmond. We also need to help expand progressive infrastructure deeper into Contra Costa County for we have countywide membership and look forward to working with RPA in these efforts. SEIU is also a member of the Racial Justice Coalition and look forward to working with RPA around issues on racial justice in Contra Costa County. For these reasons we continue to seek ongoing presence of the RPA Steering Committee.

 

Malia Everette

Co-Chair and Membership Committee

I am a Richmond resident and reside in the El Sobrante Hills area of Richmond. I was one of the original members and organizers of the RPA when it was founded in 2003-2004. I stepped out of my active role a few years after because of other political commitments, my full-time job (then starting a new business), and taking care of my two growing sons as a single mom.

My political ideological awakening happened through travel to Guatemala during the Civil War, and the Middle East (Palestine and Israel) during the first Intifada. These transformational experiences led me to change my degree from English Literature to International Relations, in which I earned a Masters degree. I became an activist at San Francisco State University and finishing my degree, I worked for 16 years at the nonprofit progressive human rights organization, Global Exchange, and through that time served on many other NGO boards on issues close to my advocate heart. During my tenure at Global Exchange I oversaw the growth and development of alternative travel programs, study seminars, and fact finding human rights delegations to over 45 global destinations. I have been involved with many local environmental and human rights groups in the San Francisco Bay Area including IFCO-Pastors for Peace, Freedom To Travel Campaign, Food First, and university based solidarity with Haiti, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico.

I served as a Human Rights Commissioner for Contra Costa County and founded AltruVistas, a foundation and travel company to promote transformation philanthropy and social responsibility in the travel industry. As my kids are older and a few of my other organizational commitments have changed (I stepped off the board of Food First and WEA), I have more time to be civically engaged in Richmond.

As of September 2016 I joined the Richmond Economic Development Commission. I want to help the RPA continue on the spirit of which it was founded and to actively ensure a future Richmond that politically resides on the pillars of social and economic justice. There is still much to do, though the communities’ successes have been substantial.

 

Michael Gliksohn

Treasurer, and Finance and Governance Committee Chair

I am a Richmond resident and recently retired from a 40-year career in financial and administrative management where I held the following positions: accountant, assistant controller, HR manager, compliance officer, and magazine publisher. This gives me a broad range of skills that I believe will be beneficial to the RPA.

I’m interested in joining the RPA Steering Committee because I support our mission and want to contribute to its continuing evolution as a well-managed and effective change agent in the city of Richmond. I hope to gain satisfaction from a collaborative job well done and to develop good working relationships with my fellow SC members and the wider RPA membership.

I am a progressive, older white male who is keenly aware of his privilege. I grew up in the 60s in a liberal Jewish household and have always been a supporter of and advocate for liberation movements: civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights, this last one being personal, given that I am bisexual. I am outraged at the institutionalized mistreatment and discrimination toward African Americans in this country for the last 400 years and the way that it is continuing unabated. I support Black Lives Matter, racial justice efforts, and the safe return of formerly incarcerated individuals. I appreciate honest dialogue and I am willing to change.

In the coming two years I hope that the RPA will improve its governance and financial picture, continue to grow in membership, maintain its supermajority on the City Council, capture the mayor's office, gain wider acceptance among the citizens of Richmond, effect progressive changes in the governance of our city, and be responsive to the expressed needs of a broad cross section of the population. I see my contribution in the areas of finance and governance, as vocal member on all SC matters, and as a canvasser in our political campaigns.

 

Alyssa Kang

CNA Representative

Communications or Membership Standing Committee

(will choose a focus in the next two months)

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) represents Registered Nurses who live and work in Richmond and Contra Costa County and is committed to advocating for the health and well-being of our community, at the local, state, national, and global level.

Richmond is currently experiencing a health crisis that is unfortunately all too common in the U.S. After the closure of Doctors Medical Center (DMC), the only public hospital serving all of West County, thousands in Richmond and surrounding communities are now without adequate access to health services. Combined with the unique environmental hazards in our community, Richmond needs serious investment and advocacy in health. RPA has been at the forefront of this fight, alongside CNA in our struggle to save DMC and will play an important role in the fight to save Alta Bates Medical Center. Given DMC’s closure and the current national threat to healthcare, it is important that RPA and CNA work together closely to develop a plan and implement long term solutions such as establishing a single-payer Medicare for All system starting with the state of California.

Building on the momentum from the Bernie Sanders campaign which both CNA and RPA were actively involved and the need to expand our organizing work in these difficult times we face under a Trump presidency, now more than ever we must harness our collective energy to bring together community organizations, labor, Richmond/Contra Costa County residents and other allies to build power and continue the important work we are engaged in. We look forward to building upon recent victories in Richmond and continuing our organizing and movement-building to create a stronger and engaged community. An important focus for me will be to increase involvement of CNA members who live or work in Richmond in this fight and in joint projects/campaigns of our organizations.

On a personal note, I recently moved to Richmond and look forward to being able to devote more time not only as an RPA steering committee member representing CNA but also as a member and resident of Richmond.

 

Kabir Kapur

Membership Committee and The Sun

I am a Richmond resident, living in the May Valley neighborhood. I have an extensive history of activism and progressive political work. I was involved with Occupy UC Davis in November of 2011, when the infamous Pepper Spraying incident occurred. The following quarter I was elected to the ASUCD Senate, the student government at UC Davis. As an ASUCD senator I worked on a voter registration drive, registering over 4,000 students, leading up to the 2012 election, advocated for the passage of Proposition 30, and voted on a multi-million dollar budget. I also interned for CA Assembly member Roger Dickinson. I was part of the initial organization of the UC Davis for Bernie Sanders and Davis for Bernie Sanders groups. I also traveled to Iowa to volunteer for the Sanders campaign. Currently I am involved with organizing the Our Revolution-East Bay chapter and Jovanka Beckles District Assembly campaign.  

Change and progress occur through coalition building and working with people that you may not agree on every political issue on but are willing to find common ground to accomplish a collective mission. Bernie Sanders says “Change takes place because people struggle” and “Change never takes place from the top down. It always takes place from the bottom up.” I agree. I also believe progress takes place when people are honest and genuine with each other, and are transparent about public affairs.

I am interested in bringing a millennial perspective to RPA. The future of our society and species depends on the actions of my generation. We must act swiftly and steadfastly to save ourselves and evolve into a democratic socialist and humanist society.

I hope to see RPA increase the local voter turnout, especially from young people, lower income, and people of color. I would also like to see the RPA actively engaged with community members on variety of social media platforms. I would like to bring my social media expertise, especially to help recruit more millennials to join the alliance and get involved in local politics.

 

Marilyn Langlois

RPA representative on the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition

RPA representative at meetings of the Reentry Solutions Group

RPAS subcommittee on Conflict Resolution

A co-founder of the RPA in 2003, I have been active in every election campaign since then, as well as representing RPA on numerous coalitions and mobilizations, including environmental justice coalitions, violence prevention, re-entry work, Friends of the Richmond Greenway, Just Cause and Rent Control coalitions, among others.

We need to keep cultivating relationships with people in the community and tap into their desire for building a better and more just city for everyone, with particular attention to racial, economic, environmental and social justice.

I lend to the RPA my experience, knowledge of Richmond issues and city government, relationships with numerous individuals and organizations, conflict resolution and communication skills.

In the coming election year we'll need to work on maintaining a strong progressive majority of city council members and work with them to address ongoing issues of affordable housing, public input on the future of Point Molate, promoting worker ownership of businesses, and ensuring fair and effective implementation of our Rent Control ordinance.

 

Paul Larudee

Fundraising Committee

I lived in Richmond and have been a member of RPA for a number of years. I have also been active in Richmond with ACCE and multiple causes concerning the Middle East and Cuba. I am co-founder of a human rights nonprofit based in Berkeley.

My ideas about how change and progress occurs is articulated in a quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (apologies for the original gender).

I want to bring my experience and views to RPA to the extent that they are useful. The RPA is one of the strongest voices of the will of the people of Richmond. Broadening and strengthening and implementing that will is a large part of the RPA purpose and I want to be a part of that. The concrete steps I want to take toward bringing that vision alive to RPA is to not be willing to presume without collaboration with others.

 

Mike Parker

Schools Action Team, Agenda Setting Committee, Elections and Campaign Committee, and Fundraising  I am a Richmond resident and have been with the RPA for over a decade. I have experience in labor, social movements and I closely follow several city issues and frequently attend and comment on those issues at Richmond City Council meetings. I serve on the Richmond Workforce Development Board and am especially focused on skills training programs so people can move from dead-end, low-paying jobs to skilled, decent-paying jobs. In the last few years I have been especially concerned with public schools and the threat of charter schools.The RPA is an important institution in Richmond and serves as a model and inspiration for people struggling elsewhere. It was built with enormous efforts by a number of people over the past 15 years. I want to help the new leadership develop and strengthen.I view the primary overall struggle in this society to be against the domination of the 99%—the capitalist class. We cannot achieve our goals without challenging racism, sexism, and the other oppressions that divide the working class.My hope for the RPA is to consolidate as an effective independent, progressive political organization, respected for its ability to lead real change in Richmond, and in California. Winning elections are important but produce no change unless we organize ongoing political power based on an active large membership. I wish to help develop and promote the new leadership in the RPA.

 

Juan Reardon

Sister Alliances Action Team

I have resided in the Richmond Annex neighborhood for over twenty years. I was born in Argentina. I co-founded the Richmond Progressive Alliance in 2003. I was Campaign Manager of Gayle McLaughlin for City Council (2004), Gayle McLaughlin for Mayor (2006), advisor to Jovanka Beckles and Jeff Ritterman for City Council (2008), advisor for the re-election of Gayle McLaughlin for Mayor (2010) and for Council in 2014, to Jovanka Beckles for Council (2010 and 2014), Eduardo Martinez for Council (2010, 2012, and 2014), and Campaign Manager for Melvin Willis for Council (2016). I was a previously a member of the RPA Steering Committee in its different formats (2003-2014). I led several RPA grassroots campaigns: Richmond Municipal ID campaign; Alerta: End the Richmond Driver License Checkpoints; End the use of Glyphosate [Round-up] by the City of Richmond. I collected more than half of the signatures required to place on the ballot Measure “T” (A Fair Share for Richmond) (2008), which showed that Chevron could be defeated. I was active in defeating Casino in Point Molate (2010); I was one of two people leading the Soda Tax campaign (2012) which educated our citizens about the damage of sugary drinks; and have worked in many other campaigns. I helped establish The Richmond Sun in 2014, and was in charge of producing the May 2016 issue.

I wrote “How Did the RPA Get Started found on our RPA website and recently “Sharing Our Experience” for distribution to other cities and communities. I proposed the RPA Sister Progressive Alliance Action Team to tell the story of the RPA to other communities. Independently of the RPA, I directed the Spanish-English bilingual periodical La Voz de Richmond for 18 months (2013-2014).

Progressive positive change comes from “action,” from initiative and hard work, bringing people together into organization and coalitions, from education and from taking the process of change seriously. This work is not a hobby, we are swimming for our lives. This work requires persistence, patience, endurance, serious thinking, and strategizing. I envision the future of RPA with 1,000 dues-paying members, having the SC diversity reflected in the diversity of the membership, educating voters and residents with a periodical political publication (The Sun), and continuing Richmond’s amazing transformation and connecting with progressives elsewhere.

 

Ada Recinos

Richmond City Council

I am a Richmond resident. I reside in the North and East neighborhood. I’m originally from Torrance, California. My parents are from El Salvador and migrated to the U.S. in the eighties. I am an active reader of the RPA Activist e-newsletter, which I share with my family and friends. I have also promoted issues highlighted by the RPA in my work on the Richmond Human Rights and Human Relations commission where I have served since 2016, and have been Vice Chair since 2017. I currently sit on the Richmond City Council having been chosen to take Gayle McLaughlin’s seat this past year. I will be running to secure that seat on the City Council again in 2018.

I graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Global Information and Social Enterprise studies, where I had the privilege of representing my class at the 2014 Co-Chair, facilitated various courses on social justice and community activism and completed an internship at the National Organization for Women. After college, I was an Emerson fellow with the Congressional Hunger Fellow and had a field placement in 2014-2015 at Causa Justa:Just Cause (Oakland, CA) where I worked as a community organizer with the Immigrant Rights Campaign. I assessed housing conditions in Oakland’s Fruitvale district by developing a survey and canvassing neighborhoods, and also managed the Tenants rights clinic in SF. I facilitated Know Your Rights Trainings on immigrant and tenant issues, including AB60, DACA, and DAPA.

I worked at Prospera Co-ops, as their Advancement Manager (http://prosperacoops.org/), managing their individual online giving and securing foundation grants. I worked at Prospera because I am invested in community asset building, and Prospera supports Latina women to build co-ops—small, local, equitable businesses.   

I have about 5 years experience organizing and campaigning for progressive community issues regarding rent control, immigration reform, women's rights. I am particularly interested in supporting the enforcement of Richmond Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction law passed with measure L, and to keep the police and sheriffs accountable in not cooperating with ICE. Overall, we need to have more folks of color in leadership—in government, as organizers, executive directors, legislators, teachers—with a strong team advising them.

The RPA has a great opportunity to create an excellent group of leaders for the next generation of change and I am proud to be a part of this organization.

 

David Sharples

ACCE Representative

Fundraising Committee

I have lived in Richmond for the last 9 years. I am currently the Director of Contra Costa County ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment). I have worked as a community organizer, first with ACORN and then with ACCE, for the last 12 years.

ACCE Action members and staff worked hard to pass Measure L, get Melvin Willis, and Ben Choi elected to the Richmond City Council and Lateefah Simon to the BART Board. Richmond ACCE members and staff registered more than 1,500 new voters, organized hundreds of low-income tenants of color to mobilize in support of rent control and gathered more than 1,000 petition signatures to put Measure L on the ballot. As part of our work with the Richmond Working Families coalition, ACCE Action knocked on more than 11,000 doors and identified 1,800 supporters of rent control, Melvin, Ben, and Lateefah.

In the coming years I would like to see RPA advance a campaign to make sure our Rent Control and Just Cause for Evictions law is implemented effectively. I’d like RPA to continue to build power for low-income people of color, working families, and progressives in Richmond. We should make sure more low-income people, people of color, young people, and women get involved in our movement in order to make sure their voices are heard loud and clear when important decisions are made by our city’s government.

 

Carlos Taboada

Schools Action Team

I am a Pinole resident and I was born in Mexico. I am a retired teacher with 21 years experience in Richmond High School and North Campus Alternative H.S. I know that neighborhoods are the keystones of any city and that quality schools attract young families, build the skills of future workers, and reduce the costs of social services and criminal justice systems.

I was endorsed by RPA in 2016 School Board Election where I had the support of more than 13,000 voters. I ran highlighting three priorities for our school district: Students succeed when we let teachers teach; full support for the West Contra Costa Adult School Program and strengthening Community Neighborhood Schools; and endorsing the NAACP and the United Teachers of Richmond Moratorium on Charter Schools. I have been active with the RPA to keep Caliber Charter School from purchasing former Adams School Site. I was a member of United Teachers of Richmond’s executive board, where I advocated for teachers and students’ rights. I was active in the campaign against the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) and produced a 16-minute video. CAHSEE was successfully suspended in January 2016.

Change and progress occur as the result of planning and organizing. I believe that organizers must have a clear understanding of the community’s needs and its potential for change.

I would like RPA to push for more progressive programs and legislation on wages, benefits, healthcare access, housing, education, environmental sustainability, promoting the building and rebuilding of the economic infrastructure to provide better services to the community, with emphasis in women’s rights, jobs, equality of opportunity, healthier environment, and protection to the immigrant and low-income residents. RPA should study further the experience of other cities (i.e., Cleveland, Ohio) which have organized worker-owned green cooperatives to serve the city’s hospitals and campuses. The RPA should consider joining the NAACP and UTR moratorium on charter schools. Contra-democratic corporate education values are antithetical to a progressive city agenda.

The current polarization of the political process in the U.S. presents a serious challenge and an opportunity to seize the initiative for progressive change.

 

Diana Wear

Chair, SC Development Committee and Membership Committee

I have lived in Richmond for over a quarter century and have been part of RPA since 2015. I’ve served on a number of RPA committees: Membership, Finance, Organizational Development Project, two years as co-chair of the Steering Committee Nominations Committee, HR, and now the Operations Development Committee. I also served as editor for former Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s book, Winning Richmond: How a Progressive Alliance Won City Hall (forthcoming in April 2018).

I have been an activist in the Bay Area for over thirty years, working in faith, social justice, and political arenas, including worker justice, the Sanctuary Movement, nonviolence, antiwar activism, and Mindful Peacebuilding. I have a BA from UC San Diego, a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology, and a Master of Public Health from UC Berkeley. I was a managing editor for an academic journal and books and served as Assistant Director for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at UC Berkeley for nearly three decades.

Over the next two years I hope RPA will spearhead local Richmond campaigns for City Council and Mayor as well as advocate for our current candidates for statewide offices. I would also like to see RPA become more established organizationally so that we can increase our staff and our outreach to both our membership and our Richmond citizens for wider participation.

My intentions to help RPA accomplish the organizational development in the next two years is to serve as chair of the Steering Committee Development Committee, with the aim of recruiting, orienting, mentoring, and helping retain our diverse and committed SC membership. I also hope to help our SC become more productive through our meetings and in our participation in Action Teams, Standing Committees, and other important Richmond City representations.

 

BK Williams

Co-chair, Agenda Committee, and Richmond Rainbow Pride

I am a Richmond resident. I live in the East Richmond Heights neighborhood. I got close to RPA after meeting Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles. I admired their stands and the work they do for Richmond. I have been a member of the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission for seven years. I am a filmmaker and I also worked in banking.

My 2015 film, “Against Hate,” primarily deals with the homophobia encountered by Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles. The Richmond City Council found itself at the nexus of religion, homophobia, and corporate influence on politics. During this work I encountered more people involved with RPA and learned about their insights regarding social justice and activism.

My previous activism included a volunteer literacy program for Black students in the Bay View Hunters Point of San Francisco. Most of our alumni made it to college. I also have been a board member and chair of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP).

I have creative skills to disseminate complex information and to train people for change. Small changes are fantastic because they allow people to see the possibilities of what can be, and our collective, concerted efforts and action bring the big shifts. Inspiration allows people to step out of their comfort zone. I want to be part of what inspires people to work toward change.

I think RPA gets it right. RPA’s successes show how groups like this need to exist all over the country so we can locally affect the outcome of our future and our politics. We all have to be involved. It is time for me to step up my involvement in all things political. I love the idea of town hall style meetings and open dialogues and I also believe in capturing those dialogues into action. We need this to survive the next three years. I see RPA as being interwoven in the fabric of the city to the point of holding widespread influence and working with every element in the city.

I look forward to being a part of the RPA as it reaches out to previously uninvolved communities and strengthens those communities while it simultaneously is strengthened by the work being done and the existing commitment of the varied groups in our town. I realize this outreach will change the look of RPA, yet I believe the core values will remain. I am excited to work with volunteers who believe a brighter future is possible and attainable for Richmond. I also am excited to help engage those who do not yet know that our town has the capacity to grow and expand and engulf us all positively in that growth. Being part of the success that is possible locally is my commitment to my town through the RPA.

 

Melvin Willis

Richmond City Council

I have been a part of RPA’s Steering Committee of the RPA for the past 6 years. In that time I have fought for rent control, health care for the undocumented, being a part of a movement to stop a jail expansion in our city, and making sure that our community member are engage and becoming leaders in Richmond. I’ve led trainings on various housing issues, volunteer outreach for voter ID support, chaired the Housing Action team and facilitated various RPA meetings.

Currently I serve on the Richmond City Council and am running for Mayor in 2018. I hope that my participation in Richmond city government city will encourage more community members to also engage in the public process.

My civic involvement includes working on election campaigns, including: Yes on Prop 30, No on Prop 32, the Soda tax, and later for Eduardo Martinez and Marilyn Langlois, followed by Team Richmond (Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, and Eduardo Martinez), Rent Control & Just Cause for Eviction, and Ben Choi and my own campaign in 2016.

I have served on a number of Richmond city commissions and participate as a leader in a number of organizations: Richmond Planning Commission, Racial Justice Coalition, Fare and Affordable Richmond, Raise up Richmond, Housing Now, Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition, REDI; and ACCE, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment where I am a community organizer, facilitator, and group representative.

With my work as a community organizer I am constantly reaching out to community members about issues and concerns and organize around those issues identified. I bring community engagement skills and knowledge about best practices. Also, I’ve brought many community members together around housing and health care issues and won things like stronger renter protections and access to health care for people who are undocumented in Contra Costa County.

In addition to working on rent control and repeal of Costa Hawkins, I supportthe Kids First Initiative; criminal justice reform and youth programs and services; a transparent community process for decisions regarding Pt. Molate development; improving coalitions with union organizing, including how it affects balancing the City budget for more equitable distribution of our City’s funds; opposition to charter schools; finding better solutions for our Richmond residents who are homeless (I am the facilitator of the City of Richmond Homeless Task Force); and looking at all issues facing our city with a racial and economic justice lens. I advocate financing for public art, and cleaner air for Richmond.

 

Sue Wilson

Chair, Communications

I am a Richmond resident and live in the Richmond Annex neighborhood.  I did a fair amount of organizing for RPA in the 2014 election. I have worked for labor unions for more than 15 years in a variety of roles (organizer, representative, communications director, management). 

I believe collective action and in-person, one-on-one organizing are the most effective tools for making positive social change. While technology and social media can be an aid to that, it is not a replacement. I also think progressives have to seize opportunities to push things farther left—the 2014 Richmond election was one such moment, the Trump presidency is another.

I have fairly high-level data management and communications skills, and am a pretty good organizer and trainer of organizers. For that reason I’m happy to serve again as Communications Chair.

I would like us to make Richmond an oasis for people under attack from both Trump and from capitalism more generally. We should be reaching out to artists being driven out of Oakland, for instance, not driving out the small arts community we have. I think we have to reach out to communities beyond Richmond to share our model.

The current RPA communications are thoughtful and comprehensive, but sometimes a bit daunting for casual readers. I think I could help make the material a bit more digestible and shareable. I would like to brainstorm with others ideas for pro-people, anti-Trump campaigns that go beyond online petitions, and then I’m pretty good at operationalizing things.

The RPA, or what it has accomplished, is one of my favorite things about Richmond. All my lefty friends are jealous of what we have here, and I like being a part of it. When I was canvassing in 2014, I was continually surprised by how easy it was to convince my neighbors in the Annex that they should elect candidates who were running to the left of the Democratic Party—even white working-class people that I would not have expected support from. I’d like to see that spread.