Popular Richmond councilman to seek re-election

Not that anyone expected otherwise, but the never-tongued-tied and wildly popular Richmond Councilman Tom Butt is running again.

He put out an announcement over the weekend in his plain-spoken and sometimes controversial e-mail newsletter. (I’ve pasted the text below.)

The Richmond council race promises to be a wild one, with as many as five incumbents possibly competing for three open seats.

How did that happen? Back when the city was in dire financial straits, state leaders pressured the city to cut its nine-member council (including the mayor) to seven in 2009. State leaders said Richmond’s council was large and unwieldy, and hoped a reduction in numbers would improve its governance.

That leaves five incumbents up for re-election but only three openings in November.

Also up for re-election are John Marquez, Harpreet Sandhu, Tony Thurmond and Nathaniel Bates. (Thurmond lost his Democratic Assembly District 14 primary bid on June 3 but his campaign could help him if he decides to run for re-election.)

It’s unlikely, though, that the field will be limited to the incumbents. Richmond is renowned for its high interest in serving on the city council. In past years, as many as 14 and 15 people ran for the open seats.

Here’s the content of Tom’s e-mail:

Dear E-FORUM Subscribers,

I am asking your support for my campaign for re-election to the Richmond City Council on November 4, 2008.

This year is an especially important election year, as the Richmond City Council will shrink from nine to seven members in January 2009 when three council members elected in November 2008 will join Mayor McLaughlin and Council members Viramontes, Lopez and Rogers on a smaller city council. With as many as five incumbents competing for only three seats, it will be a particularly difficult race. The three persons elected this year will determine the public policy direction of the City of Richmond for at least the next two years.

Thanks to your support and your votes, I was elected to a third term in November 2004, leading a field of 15 candidates with more votes than any candidate has received in Richmond history in either a mayoral or City Council race.

I am proud of what we have accomplished in the last 12 years, but there is much work to do.

The City of Richmond is fiscally sound. We have the best municipal management team in place that I have known since I moved to Richmond 35 years ago. Infrastructure and economic development projects I have worked on for years are complete or are making real progress, including the wastewater treatment and collection system, Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, the Bay Trail, the Richmond Greenway, the Ford Assembly Building, the Plunge rehabilitation, Civic Center rehabilitation and Point Richmond Gateway. Richmond is on the verge of adopting a new general plan that will direct the city to a more livable and greener future.

Crime, overall, is down significantly. But homicides continue to plague parts of Richmond. More streets were paved in Richmond this year than any other year in decades, but Richmond still has the lowest Pavement Condition Index of any city in the Bay Area.

As the only Council member who actually owns and operates a business in the City of Richmond, I have to make a payroll for 30 people every week, and I am particularly sensitive to the role local government plays in a healthy economy. As a private sector business person, I am also committed to continue working to make sure the City of Richmond operates efficiently and provides the absolute best return for the tax dollars you have invested.

With your help, I will continue to dedicate myself to providing the vision and leadership needed to make Richmond the great waterfront city of the San Francisco Bay Area that it is destined to be.

I am seeking your endorsement, and you may provide that by return email and the message “I endorse Tom Butt for City Council.”

We anticipate that this race will see substantial efforts by political action committees funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars by special interests, such as Chevron, to elect candidates who will do their bidding and to unseat independent candidates like myself. We have to take this challenge seriously and fund a comprehensive and full-blown campaign. Your contributions are critical. Although the maximum contribution allowable is $2,500 (and some of you can well afford that to ensure good and honest government), we need whatever you can afford – $10, $25, $100, $250 or more. You can download a contribution form at http://www.tombutt.com/contribute.htm and send it in with your check.

We will also need volunteers, and you can also use the downloaded form to offer to volunteer, or you can simply reply via email if you are willing to make phone calls, contact your friends via email, walk a neighborhood, post a yard sign or do whatever else we may need as the campaign develops.

Please forward this email to your personal friends and distribution lists and ask them to help as well.

Our City – Our Choice – Our Future.
Together we can make it happen.

Tom Butt

Richmond City Councilman

117 Park Place

Point Richmond, CA 94801

Phone: 510.236.7435

Fax: 510.232.5325

E-mail: tom.butt@intres.com

Tom Butt Political Website: http://www.tombutt.com/

Lisa Vorderbrueggen