Thursday, November 13, 2008

Richmond Voters to Chevron: Enough!

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 13, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Richmond voters delivered a body blow to Chevron last week, loosening its stranglehold on city politics and forcing it to cough up more money for city services. That's according to the most recent update in ballot counting by the Contra Costa County Elections Division. The counting is nearly complete, and the remaining provisional ballots are not expected to change the outcome of the Richmond contests.

In the city council race, "The Chevron Five" is no more as two members of the group that has voted with the oil giant over the years were voted out of office. Political newcomer Jeff Ritterman, chief of cardiology at Kaiser Richmond who ran a get-tough-on-Chevron campaign, won the most votes with 16.2 percent. Coming in second with 15.5 percent was incumbent Tom Butt, a longtime critic of the oil giant's power over Richmond. And taking third was incumbent Nat Bates, a Chevron supporter, with 15.2 percent. Those three were all elected to the council, and as a result, Chevron will no longer have a majority of supporters on the panel.

In addition, voters approved Measure T, a manufacturing tax that could generate up to $26 million annually, of which up to $16 million could come from Chevron each year. Both Butt and Ritterman were strong proponents of the measure. Chevron attempted to defeat it.

Apparently just missing out on a council seat was Jovanka Beckles, another political newcomer who ran on a slate with Ritterman, Butt, and Measure T. Beckles got 14.8 percent of the vote. She is currently just 331 votes behind Bates, but it doesn't appear likely that she can make up that ground when the provisional ballots are counted. Provisionals are ballots that poll workers hand out to voters on Election Day if their names do not appear on the official registration rolls for that polling station.

Two members of the Chevron Five that were voted out of office were John Marquez, who came in fifth with 12.8 percent of the vote, and Harpreet Sandhu, who came in seventh with 7.7 percent.


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