Primary Reflections and Calls to Action
By Alfredo Angulo
This June’s primary showed, above all, that electoral success does not come easily— that we will not win in November if we don’t mobilize our community’s strength. Incumbency reigned supreme in Contra Costa County, even as candidates with great credentials garnered local support, promotion from other politicians in office, and positive recognition from local media outlets. Voter turnout was a mere 34%. It was not all bad: some progressive candidates received tens of thousands of votes, and some of the races were closer than expected.
We cannot let disappointment happen in November. Eduardo Martinez is clearly the person for Richmond’s Mayoral seat. In my conversations while canvassing over the last few weeks, I’ve heard that Richmond residents are ready for new leadership in our city (it's not uncommon to hear residents say, “Anyone but Butt!”). Of course, we cannot take that to mean that Eduardo will be a shoo-in. The Richmond Progressive Alliance has a lot of visibility and pull in the community, and we have a reputation for getting honest progressives elected. That must continue this November, with Eduardo and Jamin Pursell for City Council in District 4. We have the chance to elect a progressive mayor and maintain a city council that believes that climate and the environment are critical issues, and they are willing to act on these and other pressing needs of our community.
This progressive majority on the council is the result of a strong mobilization by our community in response to the common threat posed by Chevron’s greed, and strong grassroots campaigns that spoke to the needs of our people. Districts 2, 3 and 4 are electing new city council members, but Pursell is the only City Council candidate the RPA has endorsed. We need to support candidates who share our common values and will persist in pushing for the changes so desperately needed for Richmond to prosper. Whether or not we directly endorse candidates in the remaining districts, as residents we cannot afford to be indifferent about those races either.
We have the opportunity to fight displacement and gentrification in ways no Bay Area city has previously seen. We need to fight food insecurity and ensure no member of our community goes hungry. We can continue to invest in job training for youth and for green jobs that will prepare our city to lead the way in urban climate change resilience. These candidates are in our midst. I believe they are eager to get elected but we need to mobilize with them. No struggle is successful without the mass mobilization of people with a burning desire for change. That is what got us the progressive majority in 2020 and what will keep us marching forward in November.
How do we get our favored candidates elected? We act. We begin by encouraging people to register to vote, and we need to talk with friends, neighbors, and strangers about the issues. No one’s voice will impact your neighbors and friends more than yours. Pay visits to your neighbors have heart-to-heart conversations about what matters to you and listen to what matters to them. Share why this election matters to you and why it should matter to them. This is community relationship building at its best. That is what’s going to win this election. Our city is rooted in community, and it takes that to secure a prosperous future for all of us.
We need people out there knocking on doors. We need donations for material and staffing needs, as well as people organizing events. If you care about Richmond, if you care about youth, about climate change, jobs, housing, public health, just talk to your fellow citizens. Those personal encounters show that we care enough about this election to walk and talk. If you are angry at the results of the primary, if you are tired of eight years of inaction by our current Mayor, pick up a tote bag full of fliers and join us!