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Richmond mayor-elect held up as Green success

from the Contra Costa Times
By John Geluardi

Green Party members welcomed Richmond Mayor-elect Gayle McLaughlin with thunderous applause Thursday night at San Francisco’s Roxie Cinema. McLaughlin — a featured speaker at a forum titled “Greening A Hopeful Moment: Progressive Politics After the Democrats Election Victory” — took a seat on the stage next to Green Party totems Ralph Nader, 2000 candidate for president, and former San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, the 2003 mayoral candidate who nearly beat well-connected Democratic powerhouse Gavin Newsom.

It’s so amazing for me to be in such distinguished company and especially to be on stage with Ralph Nader,” she said. “This is a very, very exciting day for me.”

Also attending the event were former San Francisco Poet Laureate and lifelong activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti and founding director of Global exchange Medea Benjamin.

McLaughlin, 54, won Richmond’s nonpartisan election Nov. 7 to become mayor of a racially diverse city of 100,000 residents and the country’s most prominent elected Green Party member. Richmond has been plagued by urban violence and environmental issues related to heavy industry mainly from the Chevron refinery, which occupies 2,900 acres on the city’s western waterfront.

On Thursday, McLaughlin talked about the strong support she has enjoyed in Richmond and repeated one of the themes of her campaign, which is to work with corporations such as Chevron to pay more of their fair share to the community.

he also called for Green Party members and like-minded Democrats to recommit to government participation in a way similar to the Civil Rights and women’s’ movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

“We have to grow in the depths of our commitment to each other,” she said. “We have a connection of disempowerment under large corporations, and we have to come together from our gut.”

Green Party members said McLaughlin’s election has created a stage for the party to show that its principles can be effective in a troubled city and that the party’s objectives are compatible with other political parties on the municipal level.

“Her election shows the trust she has gained in the community there,” Gonzalez said. “I think she is going to perform quite well. I’m very excited”

cLaughlin was a newcomer to politics when she stunned Richmond politicos in 2004 by receiving the third-highest vote total among a field of 15 candidates for four council seats. This year, she surprised them again when she ran for mayor and refused to accept corporate donations. Her $28,000 grass-roots campaign was successful in unseating incumbent Mayor Irma Anderson, 75, whose war chest was brimming with more than $110,000 in contributions, mostly from Chevron and other industrial interests.

McLaughlin will be sworn in Jan. 9.

Contact John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or at jgeluardi@…

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