Candidates square off at the Hotel Mac. (photo by Robert Rogers)
RICHMOND — Five candidates for City Council squared off in their upteenth debate Wednesday in an upstairs room of the historic Hotel Mac.
The lunch hour debate featured incumbents Nat Bates and Tom Butt, along with challengers Eduardo Martinez, Bea Roberson and Marilyn Langlois.
The debate was sponsored by the Council of Industries and drew about 20 local business leaders.
Economic development took center stage in all the candidates’ remarks.
Martinez, Langlois and Butt, backed by the progressive coalition that has lead Richmond in recent years, touted the city’s successes and said Richmond was on the right track.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Martinez said, joining his allies in praising the city’s General Plan, which stresses pedestrian friendly streets, green development and open space preservation.
- Read an online debate on Measure N here
Bates and Roberson said they were the “business friendly” candidates and vowed to open the city up to more development.
“We have enough parks in this city,” Bates said. “We need more economic development.”
Bates, 81, and Butt, 68, sparred with their usual volleys of barbed banter.
Bates said Butt and his Richmond Progressive Alliance allies were to the Council of Industries what Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is to the NAACP.
Butt said Bates “probably just forgot” that Butt has been a leader on economic development issues for years.
Other candidates for city council, including Gary Bell, Eleanor Thompson and Jael Myrick participated in another debate at the Hotel Mac on Oct. 17.
Three slots are up for grabs this year. Butt and Bates are longtime incumbents seeking re-election, while Councilman Jeff Ritterman has opted not to seek a second term.
In recent years, Richmond has enjoyed a sharp drop in crime, improving employment and new development starts, most notably the announcement earlier this year that the city would be the site of a massive new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, slated to open in 2016 or 2017.