A conversation with Ada Recinos

Ada1.jpgProgressives: meet Ada Recinos, the recently appointed Richmond City Councilmember. Passionate Millennial, spiritual, and self-described introvert are a few ways to describe Ada. Ada met with RPA Steering Committee member, Peter Chau, to answer questions about herself and her future plans. 

What drives your passion?

My family and I had very hard times when I was growing up. Yet my parents always had a big heart, they taught me the importance of generosity and community service.  My mom showed me how to be a leader, she always followed up words with action. Its why I think about how I can help our community at every moment of the day. I have a journal were I write ideas or solutions down (it helps me focus) its important for me to put my dreams down on paper.

Where did you grow up? How did you end up in Richmond?

I grew up in and around LA, living half of my youth in Hawthorne and Torrance. I completed a fellowship with the Congressional Hunger Center and was living in Oakland. My partner and I could not afford to live there anymore, and honestly no one wanted to give us a place. It was really tough because I was searching for work at the time and I watched property managers write words “unemployed” on my housing applications in bright red letters. Fortunately, I found a great job at Prospera shortly after and a really great apartment. 2015 was a really hard year for me.

How did you become involved in Richmond issues?

A week after I moved to Richmond, I applied and was appointed to the Human Rights Commission in January 2016.  In February 2017, I joined the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s Steering Committee. I was eager to set up roots here in Richmond and become civically engaged.

What was the most challenging moment for you on the Human Rights Commission?

We recently had three fantastic community leaders transition from the commission, change is hard. We lost some wisdom. Their presence can still be felt on the Commission. While it has felt as though the work on the commission has stalled, we have two new commissioners who are taking the helm. The Commission also has a new intern, so I’m excited about supporting her development as a young leader, even though I am no longer there.

What prompted you to apply for the Richmond City Council seat?

There is so much going on, like the uncertainty with DACA [Deferred Action for Children Act] and the fear that many immigrant families are experiencing. Our community is hurting and we must fight back. I know that politics are very personal, especially for us as RPA members. I wanted to act now. We’ve seen the damage 45 has caused months into his presidency. The time to act is now. We are the people and leaders we have been waiting for.

What are your plans as City Councilmember?

Richmond is a transformative place, and we are feeling the tech and housing pressure from Oakland and San Francisco. How can keep Richmond affordable and slow down gentrification? How can we get Richmond youth to stay in Richmond?  With these kinds of questions, I want to learn the best practices from other progressive cities and listen to our community. The answers are here. Also, I want to make sure that we have natural and environmental disaster preparation.

And for those of you who want to learn more about Ada, check out an earlier interview with Ada that ran in a previous edition of The Activist as part of our ongoing series featuring new RPA Steering Committee members.

Ada Recinos unanimously chosen as new councilmember!

Recinos.pngOn September 12, the Richmond City Council unanimously voted in Ada Recinos as the newest member of the council, taking the seat that was vacated by Gayle McLaughlin, who resigned in order to focus on her race for California Lt. Governor.

Ada is a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering Committee, and one of the three candidates that the RPA membership endorsed for the vacant seat.

Read on for reactions from Ada, former Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, and RPA Steering Committee member Marilyn Langlois:

My name is Ada Marisol Recinos; I am a daughter of immigrant parents from El Salvador, and I’m an older sister too. My family taught me kindness, compassion and most importantly, how to be a progressive, lead with vulnerability and celebrate life. It is what I would like to offer you and our city.

This is a difficult time for the most invisible and marginalized communities in our country. Now more than ever, we have to take care of each other. I am hopeful, because Richmond residents will not stand for the bigotry, corruption or lies. We know our local government has the responsibility and right to protect us from the action- or lack of action in the White House.

As your newest city Councilperson, I am committed to fostering that deep impact, right here. In the next few months, I look forward to leaning into solutions for the needs our our youth, exploring responsible development without displacement opportunities, supporting our entrepreneurs of color, and affirming the rights of our immigrant and black communities.

I was invigorated by the amount of candidates seeking appointment last Tuesday, as I am sure many of you were as well. We have a long list of leaders who care tremendously about our collective success. Let’s keep up that momentum. I’ll leave you with a core belief that a mentor shared with me a few years ago, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thank you for the privilege of being able to move this work forward with all of you.


Former Richmond Mayor, Councilmember and RPA co-founder Gayle McLaughlin, had this to say:

On Tuesday, September 12, the Richmond City Council appointed Ada Recinos to fill the City Council seat that I vacated this past July to focus fully on my 2018 California Lt. Governor campaign.  

Ada is a 26 year old Latina activist who has served on the
Richmond Human Rights and Human Relations Commission and on the Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering Committee.  Ada joins Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, Melvin Willis, and Ben Choi as the 5th RPA member serving currently on our City Council.

Ada will serve well the Richmond community with her progressive values and her commitment to continue the groundbreaking work of transforming Richmond for the benefit of its people.

I extend my personal best wishes to Ada as she embarks on this new endeavor and I also applaud the many members of the RPA who continue to lead by building local power and grassroots democracy!    


Marilyn Langlois, RPA Steering Committee member, who the membership named as their preferred choice among its three endorsed candidates added:

I'd like to extend my hearty congratulations to fellow RPA Steering Committee member Ada Recinos on her appointment to the Richmond City Council!  She brings excellent qualities to this task, and I look forward to working with her.  The RPA is thus maintaining its five votes on the council, offering many opportunities to put our values of people first over corporate interests into practice.  For those of you who weren't able to attend the Sept.12 city council meeting, when all the applicants presented themselves and the council voted on filling the vacancy, it can be viewed online from the City's website.

To everyone who encouraged me to apply for the vacancy, thank you for your support.  I urge us all now to keep our sleeves rolled up, continue building our movement and keep working together in every way we can to promote our common progressive agenda.

More To Do With BAAQMD

Sure, it feels like Groundhog Day in September, déjà vu all over again. But, hey, climate justice activists are used to beating our heads against the wall. So when Jack Broadbent, Chief Executive Officer/Air Pollution Control Officer for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, tells us to abandon hope for capping refinery emissions because, well, the latest cap and trade bill -- we’re supposed to roll over and fade politely into the polluted Technicolor sunset, right?

Well, wrong.

For purposes of BAAQMD, the 2017-18 season opens on September 20th. Despite the questionable assertion Broadbent made at the August Board meeting—that everyone in Sacramento knows the general consensus was to remove “duplicative regulation” of greenhouse gases via the cap-and-trade extension bill (AB 398) -- we’ve been hearing the exact opposite. Highly placed friends in Sacramento wanted to make sure that BAAQMD’s cap on refinery emissions was protected under the new legislation.

Caps on refinery emissions prevent increases of emissions. They don’t actually reduce emissions. Therefore, they are not preempted by AB 398.  The RPA will be working to get caps on criteria pollutants and carbon dioxide back on the BAAQMD agenda where they belong. The original version of Rule 12-16 addressed both criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases and is now more relevant than ever.

Victory! Becton Appointed District Attorney!

On September 12, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors appointed Superior Court Judge Diana Becton as Interim District Attorney.  Judge Becton is filling the position vacated by Mark Peterson after he resigned amidst a campaign finance and ethics scandal.

The decision was met with enthusiasm by a coalition of racial justice and progressive organizations, which gave Becton highest marks on a community scorecard that ranked candidates on a range of issues, from bail reform to support for re-entry services. Although Becton’s current term only lasts until January 2019, as the incumbent she will have an advantage for the June 2018 elections.

As the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition points out, the DA is the most powerful elected official within our criminal justice system and can be an important force in reducing excessive sentences, ending mass incarceration, and reducing racial disparities.

Contribute to Defense of Richmond Pipeline Protesters

In the early morning of July 31, for the second Monday in a row, protesters locked themselves in front of the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Richmond facility, leaving tanker trucks stranded for hours while police and firefighters figured out how to detach the blockaders.

Kinder Morgan, one of North America’s largest oil infrastructure companies, is now attempting to triple the size of its pipeline that runs from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Pacific Ocean. The planned pipeline runs through the land of several First Nations, who are fighting to stop it. If completed, the project would deliver tar sands crude oil to ships for transport to refineries in Asia and the US West Coast, including the Bay Area. Increasing the refining of tar sands crude oil would not only further endanger the climate, but increase health and safety dangers to already polluted communities.

The action for two consecutive Mondays, organized by Diablo Rising Tide, was a show of solidarity with the First Nations fighting the pipeline. It was also part of the Bay Area’s fight against an influx of tar sands oil to local refineries.

Diablo Rising Tide is raising money to bail out those arrested. Contribute here. See a video of the July 31 action  and find out more info.

State Legislature to Vote on Affordable Housing

Earlier this month, the Governor and Leadership came together to announce their commitment to a package that included urgently needed affordable housing funding.

The Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB 2) was introduced by Senator Atkins (D-San Diego) to establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by imposing a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding residential and commercial property sales. It will build safe and affordable apartments and single-family homes for Californians in need, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in state investment and leverage significant additional funding in federal, local, and private investment.

The Affordable Housing Bond Act (SB 3) was introduced by Senator Beall (D-South Bay/Silicon Valley) and gives voters the opportunity to authorize an affordable housing bond at the November 2018 ballot to create more affordable housing across the state. The programs in this bond specifically fund construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of housing for those at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness and low-income earners, as well as create more homeownership opportunities for low and moderate-income earners. Polling shows that voters support increasing SB 3’s investment in our communities, with a $6 – $9 billion bond.

While Californians across the state have demonstrated strong support for action and many lawmakers agree that our state must tackle our housing crisis, these bills require a 2/3 majority vote -- a challenging threshold, no matter the issue.

Now is the time to make sure your voice has been heard. The Nonprofit Housing Association has made this easy online form, so that you can email, tweet, or send a Facebook message directly to your Assemblymember.

Peter Chau is the RPA!

Peter.pngWho is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this series, we get to know the new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Chau, who also co-chairs the RPA Education Action Team.

TA: Tell us about your involvement in the RPA and in progressive causes.

PC: I campaigned for Ben Choi and Melvin Willis in the last election and worked with the RPA on the half-cent sales tax in 2011. I am currently a member of the RPA Education Action Team.

I am passionate about public education. I have particular knowledge and experience with the West Contra Costa Unified School District, including13 years of volunteer experiences launching new programs like the Mock Trial program; running multiple bond and parcel tax campaigns; serving on bond and budget oversight committees; and running for the school board in 2014.

TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur?

PC: Change and progress occur when a group of like minded individuals rally behind a comprehensive, cohesive vision.  In Richmond, that meant creating an independent progressive organization and executing campaign strategies to get progressive councils members elected.

TA: What would you like the RPA to accomplish?  What is your vision of where the RPA is headed?

PC: I would like the RPA to become more active in public education causes in Richmond. Public education is one of the last frontiers that Wall Street and billionaire bullies are trying to privatize. I believe that until we focus on improving our public schools, we will not be able to stop privatization efforts, nor improve the City of Richmond. Let's work together to improve our neighborhood schools!

District Attorney Town Hall

The two individuals who most set the tone for justice in Contra Costa County are the Sherriff and the District Attorney. For years we have been battling the Sheriff and the priority of building jails rather than providing the services needed to help people not in jail.

The other powerful individual is the County District Attorney. The previous DA, Mark Peterson, illegally diverted campaign money to his own use, was caught and had to step down. But he was also a District Attorney who was at odds with the values of our community.  He reinforced institutionalized racism, supported the unfair bail bond system, and directed his attention to petty crime instead of the crimes of corporations and the wealthy. He failed to investigate seriously the murder of Pedie Perez and was quick to exonerate the cop who shot the unarmed youth.

On Sept 12 The Board of Supervisors gets to select the temporary DA until the election next year.  But the temporary DA will be running as the incumbent which gives her/him a tremendous advantage in the elections. We need a DA for the people. Some members of the Board of Supervisors have already indicated support for a traditional DA who will carry on Peterson’s policies. 

We need to make it clear to the BOS that we want a different kind of DA -- one who not only gives lip service to community values but one who will lead the fight for them.  A coalition of progressive labor and community groups have been interviewing potential DA candidates and have published a scorecard showing the candidates’ stands on issues. (See candidates’ answers to community questionnaire here)

Unfortunately there has been a well-organized smear campaign against the top-ranked candidate, Judge Diana Beckton, who come closest to our values. 

To learn more, and to hear from the DA candidates directly, you can join a District Attorney Town Hall on Saturday, September 9 at 1pm at Miracle Temple, 2425 Cutting Blvd., Richmond.  We also need as many people as possible to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting on September 12, 9am at the County Building in Martinez. (Watch for announcements about carpooling and busses)

Members of the coalition include: ACLU of Northern California; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); Contra Costa AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC); Courage Campaign;  Democratic Party of Contra Costa County; East County NAACP; Healthy Richmond, Safe Return Project; and Smart Justice California.

RPA is hiring!

The RPA is seeking a short-term (4 month) consultant. Please see details below.

Title: Organizational Development Consultant

Status: Consultant

Compensation: $9,000.00 (Disbursement to be determined)

Schedule: Flexible schedule from September through December 2017 (extensions may be negotiated based on progress and deliverables review)

Organization Summary: The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is an unincorporated nonprofit organization dedicated to putting political decision-making power in the hands of the people by electing corporate-free representatives. The RPA is a non-partisan coalition of activist individuals and organizations that mobilizes people in support of progressive policies and candidates to create positive change in our community. After nearly 15 years in operations, the RPA is recognized as a national leader in local progressive politics. Its alumni are running for state offices and the organization presents its model throughout the state and country. RPA is poised for its next stage of growth and development: establishing strong internal systems to build upon gains made in Richmond, while further supporting the development of allied groups within a strong progressive movement.

Position Summary: The Organizational Development Consultant will work closely with the Steering Committee and other designated RPA leaders to establish, hone, and implement organizational systems. The primary areas of focus will be: administrative, financial, fundraising, human resources, strategic planning, and interactions with external parties.
The consultant will recommend all changes including procedures, bylaws, budget, etc. to the SC co chairs or designated members or RPASC, for final decisions.

The successful applicant will have strong experience in organizational development, working with volunteers, and community activism. Based on the short-term nature of this role and the desire to achieve maximum impact, the RPA seeks someone familiar and active within the organization. The Organizational Development Consultant will be hands-on and active, managing projects from inception to implementation, leveraging tapped and untapped resources with the goal of setting RPA up to build its capacity further through hiring a part-time employee during early 2018. Experience working with NationBuilder or similar database software is a plus.

Areas of Responsibilities

These are a list of target areas that the Organizational Development Consultant will work on alongside organization volunteers. The Organizational Development Consultant will establish with RPA leaders during the first weeks of the consultancy, a work plan to meet as many of these objectives in the time allotted. Weekly check-ins with consistent designated group of RPA volunteer(s) committee as well as monthly reporting to SC.

Administrative and Legal Compliance

  • Review and update organizational bylaws
  • Establish and post calendar of filing deadlines
  • Work with Steering Committee on governance, including legal requirements
  • Develop record keeping and file sharing systems both online and hard copies

Financial Management

  • Ensure financial management duties are fulfilled, including sharing responsibilities to support of the Finance Committee (including Treasurer)
  • Creation and maintenance of organizational budget
  • Establish financial policies and procedures
  • Maintain fiscal records and tax preparation documents


  • Review existing funding streams and recommend new opportunities
  • Create Fundraising Committee including plans for year 1 fundraising
  • Participate in revenue generating activities
  • Create plan for sustainability of paid staff/consultant position(s)
  • Support systems creation and implementation for donations and donor relations

Human Resources

  • Establish a strong system and assist with volunteer recruitment, on-boarding and role selection with a priority on filling leadership positions
  • Establish and support implementation of conflict resolution and accountability systems
  • Establish a job description for a part-time staffer with targeted start date of early 2018

Strategic Planning

  • Create sub-committee to create a strategic concept paper

External Relations

  • Respond to media requests and perform media outreach
  • Respond to other requests for information and collaboration


  • Extensive experience with all aspects of organization development listed above
  • Extensive experience with community services and activism, including work in community collaborations and coalitions.
  • Experience volunteering with the RPA or similar organization and a familiarity with RPA organizational needs
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work and life experience
  • A commitment to working with diverse communities
  • Strong written and verbal communication
  • Familiarity with facilitation and mediation skills
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office and other technology file sharing systems

To Apply: RPA provides equal opportunity contracting and Richmond residents, people of color, women, LGBTQ etc. are encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should submit their resume, a targeted cover letter, three professional references and proposed scope of work with deliverables considering the organizational needs to the RPA steering committee at rpaconsultant2017[at]

Application period closes 9/8/2017

RPA Announces Endorsements for City Council Seat

The Richmond Progressive Alliance is proud to endorse three strong candidates for the vacant City Council seat.  The three endorsed candidates are listed in order of preference.

1st and Preferred Recommendation: Marilyn Langlois
Based on her distinguished service to Richmond in a public capacity, for having the best list of qualifications for the position of City Councilmember, and on her 14+ years of progressive activism in Richmond, with the Richmond Progressive Alliance and beyond, we endorse and recommend Marilyn Langlois as our first and preferred choice to be appointed to the Richmond City Council.

2nd Recommendation: Ada Recinos
Based on her distinguished service to Richmond in a public capacity, for having a good list of qualifications for the position of City Councilmember, and on her two years of service on the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission, her recent activism with the Richmond Progressive Alliance and her work beyond Richmond, we endorse and recommend Ada Recinos as our second choice to be appointed to the Richmond City Council.

3rd Recommendation: Diego Garcia
Based on his distinguished service to Richmond in a public capacity, for having a good list of qualifications for the position of City Councilmember, and on his nine years of service on the Parks and Recreation Commission and two years in the Police Commission, and for his activism as an ally of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, although not a member, and his work beyond Richmond, we endorse and recommend Diego Garcia as our third choice to be appointed to the Richmond City Council.

The RPA opened the endorsement process to all Richmond residents in July.  Potential candidates submitted substantial written materials and sat for interviews with members of the RPA Steering Committee.  The full Steering Committee and the RPA membership voted in favor of these endorsements.  The RPA endorsements are separate and independent of any action taken by the Richmond City Council, who will vote to fill the seat on September 12th.  City Council Members who are also members of RPA were not part of the endorsement process.  Thanks to the many people who participated in this process.