OP-ED: Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize


By Jovanka Beckles

In the civil rights era we knew that to make progress and be treated with dignity, we’d have to stand up against taunts, fire hoses, dogs and more. We still face many horrors today as we have seen in Ferguson.

In Richmond, the situation is mixed.

Richmond is rising. We have beautiful parks, art, and community gardens again! Our young people are beginning to feel loved again! We’re experiencing increased peace in our community and we have the lowest crime rate in 33 years!

All this is the sign of the healthy community we are re-creating together. Richmond is healing.

Progressive policies have brought us a higher minimum wage, less pollution, safety with a community approach to policing, programs to help the formerly incarcerated and those facing foreclosure.

But we still much to do. We still have low-wage work. We have environmental racism with much of our community suffering from pollution.

Self-sufficiency is needed, and we have what it takes to do for ourselves.

Chevron has put in $1.6 million in its “Moving Forward” committee to flood our mails with lies to taunt and burn forward-thinking candidates like Gayle, Eduardo and me.

If you look at the fine print on the back, you can see that they’re paid for by Chevron. They know that we don’t have the money to match their mailers and correct their lies and distortion, so they repeat the same lies.

Those mailers neglect to tell the public that I spend my budget on sponsoring community-oriented events for women, children and the homeless in Richmond.

Chevron is using its money to pollute our politics and take control of City Government, which is supposed to represent the people.

Since our city council, progressive leadership has been free of corruption. Chevron’s hit pieces have to make up “facts.”

The facts are: Gayle has taken only three trips in eight years and only one—an official trip to our sister city, Regla Cuba—used her Council expense money.

Eduardo is not an anarchist. My spending on the one trip I took on city business was far less than the amount allowed per day. Unlike other Council members, I work a full-time job and get up at 5 a.m. to mentor youth.

Yet, my attendance at Council meetings is better than the attendance of the Chevron candidate for Mayor.

One of the proudest moments in serving our community has been raising the minimum wage in Richmond. If you are minimum wage worker in California, you may have noticed that you’ve been making a dollar more an hour.

In Richmond, you’ll receive another raise come January first. Over the next four years, you’ll actually be getting $4 an hour more than you do today!

We are taking concrete steps to move working people out of poverty.

In addition to improving our economy by raising the minimum wage, I sponsored our Ban the Box ordinance to fight discrimination of the formerly incarcerated, who must be given opportunities to earn a living.

I fought to keep Doctor’s Hospital open. I advocated for improved lighting to increase our public safety. For those with an interest in reviewing my record, look at my website, Facebook or review the public record to see for yourselves.

My opponents, who attack me with fabrications, have no program and no vision, so they distract from the truth.

Richmond is far better now than it was 12 years ago. Let’s continue in the positive, prosperous, healthy and safe direction that we are going. Let’s not allow fear tactics to distract us from the truth. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.


Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles is running for reelection to the Richmond City Council.



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