Chevron or its agents may say anything to try to discredit me. We know from past elections that Chevron will hire public relations agencies to put on smear campaigns through direct mail, billboards, and TV. If they can’t dig up anything “damaging” about me personally, they will take words out of context or try guilt by association. Here are the facts so you can evaluate for yourself.
My Background and Career in the
I was born in Ohio in 1940 and grew up in Cleveland Heights. My grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. My dad got a Depression-era job as an office boy and finally retired as a manager of a building materials company. He then developed a new career as a management consultant. My mother was a garment worker and then worked full-time taking care of four boys. My parents were very active in the labor movement. They were committed to defending and promoting the rights of working people, even during the repression of McCarthyism.
I went to college in 1958 at the University of Chicago and majored in physics. I became very active in student activities to advance civil rights and to oppose the nuclear arms race and took off two years from school to work in these movements as the National Secretary of the Student Peace Union. I returned to the University and earned a BA in Political Science. I paid for my education by doing electrical and electronic work at the University’s audio-visual center.
In 1964, I moved to Berkeley to start graduate school in Political Science. I worked my way through graduate school, first as a researcher and teaching assistant and then later with TV repair work. I earned my MA in Political Science in 1965 and successfully completed the courses and exams for a PhD in Political Science. I even started work on a dissertation. But finally I decided I preferred electrical work to being a professor at a university. I liked the mix of manual and intellectual skills required in electrical work. Similarly, political theory was only interesting to me if I could apply it to the real world.
All through this period I was a political activist seeking fundamental changes in society. I was a leader in the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. I believed then as I believe now that injustice in the world is only reduced when people organize to demand justice. Later I was very involved in civil rights, particularly with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). I was an active supporter of the Farm Workers organizing struggle. I was one of the original organizers of the Peace and Freedom Party and worked closely with the Black Panther Party. I was a member of the Independent Socialist Club, which ultimately became part of an organization called Solidarity. I believed then as I do now that freedom, democracy, justice, and equality are worth fighting for.
In 1975 I moved to Detroit. Over the next 32 years, I worked there as a skilled industrial electrician, mostly in the auto industry. During this time, I also taught and did some engineering work. I was involved in both my local and national union. I believed that the union movement had lost its way and I was involved in many efforts to reform and rebuild unions. The main issues we fought for were democracy within the union, an active, involved membership, and leadership that represented the members rather than making deals with management that cut members' pay and benefits.
I was one of the founders of a publication/network called Labor Notes. I continue to serve on its National Policy Committee. I wrote or co-authored several books published by Labor Notes; the last two were Working Smart: A Union Guide to Participation Programs and Reengineering and Democracy Is Power: Rebuilding Unions from the Bottom Up.
My Life in Richmond
In 2007 I retired from Chrysler and we moved
to a house in Point Richmond that Margaret’s parents had purchased
Margaret’s family has a long history in Richmond,. Her
father established a lighting fixture business in 1952 and they
were politically involved. Her mother, Lore Shaper, worked closely
with Lucretia Edwards to save much of Richmond’s shoreline for
people to use. Lore was treasurer of the first Farmers’ Market
in front of the Main Library and served on the Economic Development
When we moved to California I started teaching at Los Medanos Community College—part of the Contra Costa Community system in Pittsburg. I continue to teach industrial electricity/electronics there in a two-year program that certifies electricians/technicians for a number of industries, including refineries.
I first got involved in Richmond electoral politics via Jeff Ritterman’s successful 2008 campaign for City Council, becoming his campaign coordinator. This led me to become a strong supporter of Mayor McLaughlin and a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA). I edit the RPA Newsletter and website, www.RichmondProgressiveAlliance.net. You can find much of what I have written about Richmond in the back issues of the Newsletter, available through the website. I stand on the record of the RPA.
Like Mayor McLaughlin, I am registered in the Green Party. I have not been active in the Greens myself, but I register with them as a statement about paying attention to the environment.
Will They Say About Me?
"He supported Measure N – the 'soda tax'”
I strongly supported Measure N, the sugary drink
tax. I believe it was about fighting for the health of our community.
Does anybody really believe that the Soda companies poured millions
into the Richmond elections, spreading fear and lies, out of concern
for our health?
I understand that many people were concerned
about the regressive sales tax or the fact that the money would
go through the general fund. I wish there could have been another
way to raise money for athletic fields and child nutrition programs,
but corporate interests have passed laws in this state which limit
city options for raising money for programs.
The voters spoke,
but the problem hasn’t gone away. Obesity and diabetes are dooming
our children to sickness and poverty. If Measure N was not the
right solution, then we need to work on some other way.
"He is inexperienced"
First of all, my background and training let me quickly understand technical, financial, and legal issues. But improving a city is not a one-person show. It requires teamwork at all levels and people with different skills and expertise. Because of my work in so many movements and organizations, I am experienced at running meetings and organizing and working with different people. I am good at encouraging participation and organizing volunteers. A lot of what we want to do can only be accomplished by People Power. Citizen participation is both a democratic ideal and a great opportunity for Richmond.
Second, the best experience is probably watching someone in action. I’ve had the privilege of watching Mayor McLaughlin lead Richmond and working closely with her on the most important issues of the last seven years. I’ve attended most City Council meetings during this time and have watched the rest—as painful as it sometimes has been. I’ve seen her learning curve and how much she’s gotten done. I also know how things sometimes go badly at Council meetings - when bad manners on the Council or in the audience have wasted time and created unnecessary disunity. I am skilled at parliamentary procedure, I know what I’m getting into, and I’ll always be able to take advantage of Gayle’s wisdom and experience.
"He is a socialist"
Socialism is a way of saying that people - not
profits - should determine the basic decisions that affect us.
In other words it means extend democratic principles to the major
decisions in the economy.
As a system, capitalism no longer works very well. While it may still provide a few incentives for innovation, the 1% are increasing inequality and poverty world-wide, and the system is operating without sufficient regard to the damage it does to the environment, our food supply, and our quality of life.
In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can make unlimited political contributions, so they have even more power. The system is broken. What kind of system produces a company like Chevron that will cut so many corners on preventive maintenance and be so unconcerned about its toxic emissions—and then treat that behavior as normal?
Many of the changes we need would have to be decided at the state or national level. The city of Richmond cannot change Prop 13 or the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. We have to work with corporations while we try to mitigate the negative impact of their drive for profits. In working with them we have to put residents’ needs first. We have to stand up to Chevron’s profit- maximizing priorities and insist that they spend what needs to be spent on safety, maintenance, and emissions reduction. Because I have worked for over 30 years in industry, I understand the legitimate needs of industrial operations.
"He lives in Point Richmond"
Point Richmond is beautiful. I feel very fortunate that my wife’s parents left us the family home. One of the other candidates for Mayor, Nat Bates, also lives in Point Richmond.
Point Richmond is part of the wonderful, complex fabric that is Richmond. Other threads in this fabric are Rosie the Riveter National Park, Atchison Village, Parchester Village, the Southside, Hilltop, North and East, the neighborhood councils, Urban Tilth, a lively bicycle culture, the Richmond Southeast Shoreline Community Advisory Group (CAG), the shoreline, the city hall complex with the Arts Center, our police department and Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), Ceasefire, the Center for Performing Arts, the PAL program, to name a few.
Where candidates live is much less important than their values, proposals and skills. I believe that all elected officials must operate from the position that for Richmond to flourish, each thread in the city must be strong.