Tom Butt was elected Richmond Mayor Tuesday despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the Chevron Corporation which failed to defeat him or elect candidates the oil company had supported.
Butt won with 51.43 percent of votes, beating Nat Bates – backed by Chevron – who received 35.46 percent of the votes and Uche Justin Uwahemu, who came in third with 12.73 percent.
“I’ve never had such a bunch of people who are dedicated and worked so hard. It’s far away above anything that I’ve ever experienced,” said Butt quoted in the SF Chronicle.
Also winning, three members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance who ran for City Council: Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLaughlin and Eduardo Martinez.
By winning both the campaigns for mayor and city council, the progressives will probably be able to fill Butt’s vacated council seat.
A number of observers said that Chevron’s aggressive campaign turned off voters.
“The election was a referendum on Chevron, and the people obviously made it clear they did not appreciate the unnecessary spending by Chevron – so they took it out on the rest of the candidates,” said mayoral candidate Uwahemu.
Butt’s campaign spent about $58,000 while Chevron spending totaled over $3 million and attracted national attention to Richmond, a city of 107,000 people.
Speaking at his campaign headquarters, Bates told his supporters, “It looks like the campaign is over, and Butt is your new mayor. Everyone that Chevron supported was unsuccessful.”
Quoted in the Richmond Confidential, Bates said, “I’m still in love with this city. There was just too much mail, and people became resentful. They turned against Chevron.”
In the campaign for a short-term City Council member, Jael Myrick won with 50.96 percent of the vote, defeating Corky Booze, who received 32.30 percent.
In Congressional races, Mark DeSaulnier won with 66.17 percent of the vote, and Jerry McNerney won with 55.32 percent.
In a press release, Richmond Progressive Alliance said the winning three council members have “pledged to stand strong for Richmond residents in the city’s dealings with the Chevron Corporation, demanding safety, transparency and accountability from the oil giant.”
According to the press release, “The newly-elected City Council will preside over the refinery’s massive retooling project, as well as oversee the City’s lawsuit against Chevron, a result of the horrific 2012 refinery fire that sent 15,000 residents to seek medical treatment and caused property values to plunge.”