Martinez, Butt, Robinson and Bana take slight early leads in early Richmond City Council election results

RICHMOND — Only one candidate — Soheila Bana in District 4 — has emerged with a comfortable lead across four separate races for the Richmond City Council, according to early results in Contra Costa County’s election Tuesday night.

Notably, candidates in the hotly contested race for mayor were in a three-way tie.

This election marks the first time each of Richmond’s six districts will have voted for its own representative voice, after citywide seats started being phased out in 2020.

In early returns, Measure P, a proposal to cap rents at either 60% of the Consumer Price Index or 3% of a controlled unit’s current rate, has so far earned a slight majority of voter’s support — potentially on pace to reach the 51% needed for it to pass.

Since 2016, landlords of rent-controlled units have been entitled to increase rents up to 100% of the annual CPI, which is the federal government’s calculation that reflects how consumer costs have shifted each year. However, that policy has come under fire, allowing rents some say are needlessly high during record rates of inflation, especially compared to neighboring city’s caps.

Each of the 11 candidates campaigning for four separate city council races agree that homelessness, public safety, business development and affordable housing are the city’s biggest obstacles.

However, the diverse city is at somewhat of a crossroads with its history as an industrial, affordable, scenic and gritty community.

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After council members known as the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) held a political majority for the past eight years, voters have been divided on whether the city is still on track or should change course on how elected leaders have voted during city council meetings to reallocate police budgets, increase corporate taxes, approve housing developments and manage encampments.

One outcome in the election is already certain; current Mayor Tom Butt will be termed out at the beginning of 2023, retiring after serving eight years as mayor and more than 27 years on the City Council.

MAYOR

It’s unclear if the RPA’s majority control inside City Hall will remain for a few more terms, but current Councilmember Eduardo Martinez is holding a narrow lead in the race for mayor in early results. Councilmember Nat Bates and Shawn Dunning, a conflict resolution consultant, are following very closely behind.

Mark Wassberg, a retired auto mechanic and former Chevron employee who lives in his truck in El Sobrante, was trailing in last place.

DISTRICT 2

Andrew Butt has taken an early lead against opponent Cesar Zepeda in the race to represent District 2, where hot debate has often placed natural open spaces, commercial industries and residential development at odds. Nearly 2,000 ballots had been counted in the district.

Butt argued he wants to disrupt the RPA’s vision for the city and preserve Richmond’s physical and cultural past. The mayor’s son touts his past experience as an architect, planning commissioner, city Design Review Board member and president of the Point Richmond Business Association.

Zepeda is not an RPA member but was endorsed by the polarizing bloc. He campaigned on his ability to balance diverse perspectives and bring people together, after working within the West County Wastewater District, several Hilltop District neighborhood associations, the Contra Costa Community College Foundation and the GRIP homeless resource center.

DISTRICT 3

So far, Doria Robinson is leading in the vote for District 3 — only a hair ahead of fellow candidates Corky Boozé and Oscar Garcia. As of Tuesday evening, 1,335 district votes were counted.

The district’s voters were asked to choose between three longtime and active residents to speak for the diverse, and rapidly developing community along Macdonald Avenue.

Robinson is a third-generation resident of Richmond’s southside and the executive director of Urban Tilth, a nonprofit dedicated to community-based agriculture education.

Garcia, an environmental engineer, community police review commissioner and member of the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council, has hopes to support local youth. Boozé is a former teacher, businessman and City Council member who was known for his dedication to the Black community, focus on business development and “love or hate” style of politics.

DISTRICT 4

In Richmond’s western hills, a majority of District 4 voters were supporting Soheila Bana, according to the 3,256 ballots counted early Tuesday night. Jamin Pursell fell behind in the council race.

Bana’s supporters have rallied behind her scientific background, record of public service and problem-solving skills that she gleaned from decades working as an engineer — diverging from the city’s history of slate politics. Residents voting for Pursell often pointed to his first-hand experience connecting with the community on knowing the technical ropes of neighborhood councils, planning and zoning boards and Pride organizations.