What Richmond’s Progress Looks Like

Four years ago, Richmond was in the national spotlight, fighting a battle over who controls our city government: the voices of the residents or the voice of one of the world’s largest corporations. And when Chevron pumped more than $3 million into the election against us, we didn’t back down. We stood up and showed our city couldn’t be bought—and we won.

TB-Blog.jpgIn my first term as Mayor, we’ve achieved real progress together — this is what it looks like:

1. We’re Building A Stronger Economy for Richmond

RECORD LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, A RISING MINIMUM WAGE, AND STRONG CITY FINANCES

We were hit hard during the Great Recession, but over the past four years, we’ve built a stronger local economy.

Since 2015, we’ve cut our city’s unemployment rate in half, to 3.1% — the lowest unemployment rate on record in Richmond.

We launched Richmond’s Business Roundtable to bring local business leaders together to improve our city’s business climate, create jobs, increase economic diversity, and expand opportunity for all. 

Our Richmond Main Street Initiative is revitalizing Downtown and creating good jobs. And we’re raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019, because we must make sure that the new jobs we create provide Richmonders with a livable wage.

Since the beginning of my term, home values are up, foreclosures are down, and we’re building more housing now than we have since before the beginning of the Great Recession. Still, I strongly believe that everyone who wants to live in Richmond should be able to afford a home—including lifelong residents. Of the 1,000 new homes under construction (with thousands more planned), over half are rated as affordable, and we’ve worked to keep rents stable and almost 40% lower than in neighboring El Cerrito. 

And because of The City of Richmond’s strong fiscal outlook, we raised our credit rating and we recently received four awards for excellence from the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers. 

2. We’re Making Richmond Safer

LOWER CRIME RATES, STRONGER NEIGHBORHOODS, AND NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR PROGRESSIVE AND EFFECTIVE POLICING

New jobs and housing aren’t enough if our city isn’t safe. Today in Richmond, we have the second lowest homicide rate on record. Even one homicide, of course, is one too many, and I’m committed to making our city even safer in the years ahead. 

A safer Richmond doesn’t just mean lower crime rates, it means a city where everyone can trust and is willing to support law enforcement — we have more work to be done on that front, but I’m proud that under my administration, we have helped foster a stronger partnership between our community and law enforcement and that Richmond was recognized by President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch for our progressive and effective community policing policies.

We’re also standing up for Section 8 recipients, and revitalizing Richmond neighborhoods, thanks in part to a Cities of Service Grant for Richmond that my administration secured – one of just seven cities nationwide to win the grant.

3. We’re Creating a Better Future for Richmond’s Kids

After the Chevron refinery fire in 2012, I helped negotiate $90 million in community benefits, $35 million of which is dedicated to the Richmond Promise Program. Now in its third year, Richmond Promise offers a scholarship for every graduating Richmond high school senior, and it’s the largest scholarship program of its kind in the state of California. 

As part of my duties as Mayor, I also get a kick out of teaching the next generation of Richmond youth about civics and government. I regularly get to visit our local schools and invite students into the Mayor’s office to discuss the ways City Hall works (and sometimes, let’s be honest, it could work better), as well as potential careers in public service, and what Richmond’s future might look like to those from the next generation who are interested in shaping it.  

4. We’re Strengthening Richmond’s Environmental Leadership

In my first term, I led adoption of Richmond’s Climate Action Plan, a roadmap for how the city will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change on public health, infrastructure, ecosystems, and public spaces in our community. The Richmond City government now runs on 100% renewable electric power.

And I was thrilled when the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (which actually cared about protecting the environment), recognized Richmond for its role as a Green Power Community, a city that is leading the way on generating alternative forms of energy. 

We’ve also taken many other steps to live up to our city’s green reputation. We banned the use of pesticides in City operations and passed an ordinance to limit the use of wasteful plastic straws within City limits. We also re-started the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee to bolster funding and volunteer efforts for tree planting in Richmond and negotiated $2 million in funding for urban forestry. And we secured funding for the Richmond Wellness Trail, the Yellow Brick Road, and Unity Park. 

Finally, I was honored to represent Richmond at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, the largest convening of cites around efforts to combat global warming, where I signed onto the Mayor’s Compact of Paris.  

5. We’re Improving Transportation, Infrastructure, and Our Quality of Life 

From breathing new life into Hilltop Mall and revitalizing Downtown, to improving transportation, and preserving historical structures across the city—we’re making Richmond a more livable community. 

Soon we’ll be launching ferry service to San Francisco, a project I’ve been spearheading for more than two decades. Our new ferry service will reduce traffic on I-80, improve commute times, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and attract more visitors to Richmond. We’re also going to build new housing around the ferry terminal!

We’re upgrading the Richmond BART and Amtrak stations, and constructing bike and pedestrian paths so people can safely cross I-580 and better access Point Molate.

As a commissioner on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, I was able to get $210 million into the recently approved Regional Measure 3 for traffic improvements at each end of the Richmond – San Rafael Bridge.

Other recently completed public works projects include the Family Justice Center, the Re-Entry Success Center, the Brad Moody Underpass, Wet Weather Storage Facility, multiple Bay Trail Gap projects, and the Nevin Streetscape Project connecting BART to Civic Center Plaza. 

6. We’re Standing Up for Our Progressive Values

Richmond is a proudly progressive city, and in my first term as your Mayor, it has been my honor to defend what we stand for throughout the state, across the country, and around the world.

Early in my first term, the City of Richmond joined in an amicus brief in support of President Obama’s executive action on DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), which protected undocumented immigrant parents who had American-born children.

When Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, I joined 400 other mayors from throughout the nation to reaffirm our commitment to environmental stewardship and fighting climate change.

And when Trump targeted innocent people who have lived their entire lives in the United States, I stood up to defend our fellow Richmonders living in immigrant communities, joining over 100 mayors in signing an open letter to Trump calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

7. The Road Ahead

We’ve made real progress together in Richmond over the past four years, but there is so much more work to be done — that’s why I’m running for re-election in November.

In my next term, I’ll keep working to make Richmond a better place to live, work, and raise a family, by fighting for economic justice, so everyone has a shot at a quality education and good job, by creating affordable housing, reducing crime—especially gun violence—protecting our environment, and defending the progressive values we share. I hope you’ll join me.

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me at Tom@TomButtForRichmond.com.

Thanks for all you do for Richmond.

– Mayor Tom Butt