I am Jovanka Beckles. I live and
work in Richmond and I am a candidate for re-election to
the Richmond City Council in the November 2014 election.
My candidacy for the Richmond City Council
is based on my conviction, shared with many, that the building
of a better and healthier Richmond requires from every elected
representative, an unequivocal defense of all our progressive
community values and aspirations.
Richmond has great
potential. We must change the image that has become associated
with Richmond – that
it is a city ridden with crime, bad streets, and the worst
pollution in the Bay Area. In order to change that image,
we must have leaders who think creatively and who represent
the interest of the people of Richmond. We must insist that
our elected officials think forward and not backwards.
In order for our city to prosper, we need
better and faster solutions. We have great people, but the
needed changes have not materialized. The solutions we need
can only materialize when our residents bring Richmond back
from being a city run by an oil company to a city run by
the community; a city where the City Council listens and
responds to the concerns of its residents, rather than the
interests of big developers and big corporations. This has
kept Richmond stagnant and in some instances threatens to
take us backwards. I represent a new generation of responsive,
At the same time, we are experiencing a
nationwide shift of minds. A new wave of change has emerged,
and I know that it touches many of us in Richmond -- those
who have felt tired and hopeless for so long have gotten
a spark. I see it in their faces, in their smiles, in their
conversations and questions: Can it get better? I say, absolutely!
in Richmond as a candidate of real and positive change
and progress. I share the sense of urgency experienced
by many - families of victims of homicide and victims of
violent crime, kids with asthma and depressed parents of
depressed teenagers. I will represent each and all of the
diverse people of Richmond. I will work very hard during
my tenure as a City Council member to advance policies
that make this city better, healthier and more just. I
will be a true representative of the interests and aspirations
of the people of Richmond. There is a great need for us
as a city, to collectively work for peace in Richmond.
We must honor our differences of age, race, sexual orientation,
class, religious or spiritual beliefs, and stand together
as one to work for the common good. One Richmond!
Here are more details about me and my positions:
As an educator,
counselor, and crime reduction specialist in Richmond, I
have guided young people into transforming their lives in
powerful and meaningful ways that have benefited them and
the community. I have played an instrumental role in the
lives of many Richmond children and young adults who were
inclined to continue the cycle of violence in their families.
I have provided critical resources, guidance intervention
and advocacy that has significantly impacted the lives of
these individuals, enabling them to make better and healthier
life choices. I have also taken my role as an elder in the
community seriously and have lead by example. I like to roll
up my sleeves and work side-by-side with Richmond youth in
clean-up and restoration projects such as Wild Cat Creek
in North Richmond on Earth Day and Baxter Creek at Booker
T. Anderson Park with the Watershed Project.
As a Planning
Commissioner, I listened carefully to both sides of
all issues brought before me to render decisions that are
in the best interest of our community.
As a member
of Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s Environmental
Health and Environmental Justice Task Force, I have
worked for a healthier environment for all Richmond, with
particular attention to those neighborhoods suffering the
brunt of industrial and non-industrial pollution. In addition
to advising Mayor McLaughlin, the EHEJ task force constitutes
a gathering place of community based environmental thinkers
and doers, to share analyses and work together in raising
environmental awareness in Richmond. I am privileged to
work with great advocates from the Sierra
Club, the North Richmond Open Space Shoreline Alliance,
Communities for Better Environment, West County Toxics
Coalition and others.
As a member
of the General Plan Advisory Committee, I support
a progressive direction for our City at the same time that
I reaffirm and advocate for the interests and aspirations
of the African American community of Richmond as well as
those of all immigrants. I believe that the environmentally
sensitive areas along our 32 miles of shoreline, should
be designated as conservation areas. Open water, mudflats,
marshlands, tidelands, creek corridors, and surrounding
lands that are highly suitable for preservation/resource
areas or parkland use, must be protected and preserved
to the maximum extent feasible. These areas are important
for maintaining wildlife, including fish, shellfish, shorebirds,
the waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway, other upland species,
as well as recreational opportunities for our children
and future generations. I am opposed to building a casino
in Point Molate because research has shown that urban casinos
bring more harm to communities than good. While jobs are
essential in Richmond, there are other feasible options
to bring in revenue and jobs that do not include a casino.
A conference center, such as Asilomar
in the Monterey peninsula ,
or Cavallo Point in
Sausalito would produce thousands
of construction jobs and hundreds of long-term jobs NOW.
An alternative plan that does not include a casino, would
produce much needed jobs for our residents sooner than a
casino option.. An environmentally sustainable project could
also employ many of the solar installation graduates from
Solar Richmond and Richmond Works to install solar panels,
making it a premier destination and revenue generating option;
a green, sustainable world-class resort right here in Richmond!
We have the land and open space needed for a resort, conference
center and recreational facility such as this.
As a member
of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (www.richmondprogressivealliance.net),
I share with Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, alliance founders
and members, the goals of restoring Democratic health,
developing economic health, regaining environmental health
and safety, opposing mega-developments on toxic brownfields
like the Zeneca site, supporting smart growth and in-fill
housing and neighborhood character preservation, and keeping
both the shorelines and the hills of Richmond open and
public, and strengthening social justice and transforming
Richmond to a place of joy and pride.
founding member of BMOER (Black Mobilization Organization
Education Richmond), I am committed to improving
the quality of life for African-Americans in Richmond,
particularly those affected by crime, violence and poverty.
We believe that by taking action, we can break the cycle
of violence and poverty that has plagued many areas of
the Black community in Richmond. Our aim is to instill
hope and pride in our people by reminding and educating
as many as possible of our great history and ancestry.
As a RSSA
CAG (Richmond Southeast Shoreline Area Community Advisory
Group) member, I am committed to achieving a complete
clean-up of one of the most toxic sites in the City and
in the State of California, the Zeneca site. I am committed
to making sure that the health and interest of the Richmond
residents of the neighborhoods near the site (Richmond
Annex, Southwest Annex, Panhandle Annex, Crescent Park,
Coronado, Santa Fe, Pullman, and others) are protected
with any plans for the area.
I am an
African American and Latina immigrant. I was born
in Panama City, Panama in 1963, where I grew-up in a bilingual,
multicultural family and country. My parents moved to the
U.S. in 1972 and I went through the challenging process
of immigration and cultural adjustment. At home, my parents
taught me the critical values of respect for self and others,
along with hard work and integrity. As a result of my multicultural
experience, I have learned to respect and value differences
and similarities. This allows me to easily and comfortably
bridge many barriers. I attended Florida A&M University
(FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida, on a full basketball scholarship,
and graduated cum laude in 1988 with a BA degree in Psychology.
I later earned a Master of Business Administration degree
from the University of Phoenix.
I moved to the
Bay Area in 1989 and have worked as a counselor, youth
educator, team builder and strategist, client advocate,
crime prevention specialist, housing case manager for the
homeless, and mental health specialist for 18 years. For
the last 13 years I have worked in Richmond. I am also
am a small business owner in the City of Richmond, and
I spearheaded the ongoing efforts to create a merchants’ association
on San Pablo Avenue.
As a Richmond
resident, I have been both the victim of crime and
an advocate of solutions that prevent it. I support the
Tent Cities Peace Movement and a variety of local community
responses such as Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK),
and the Not Today Movement in opposing violence and promoting
peace. I resent and protest the slow pace of implementation
of the solutions demanded by our community. I will work
with our City Council and City managers to do much better.
President of the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council, I promoted strengthening local livable and walk-able communities,
developing stronger connections and loyalties with businesses
in local corridors (like on San Pablo Ave) and surrounding
communities. It is very important to me to keep the line
of communication open with my neighbors in order to do
my part to help build a wonderful, neighborly, informed
community. In this spirit, I worked closely with neighbors
and the police department to ensure that our neighborhood
had a highly successful national night out.
As a member
of Concilio Latino and the League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC), I have collaborated with West
Contra Costa County School District members, and community
health providers to share information on best practices
to meet the need of the Latino community members. I worked
with the Latina Center and others in organizing the Children’s
March Against Violence. I oppose anti-immigrant raids,
and I support a comprehensive and just immigration reform
with path to legalization for all immigrants.
As A Rotarian, I
strongly believe in the organizational motto “service
above self.” I have always been deeply committed to
upholding high ethical standards in my professional life.
Rotarians ask ourselves four important questions:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to
I answer these four questions daily as I move through the
world. As I answer yes to each one of these questions, I
know that I operate with my integrity intact. Integrity and
service have been life-long values of mine, which why I was
drawn to the Rotary Club of Richmond.
As a member
of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
strongly affirm and promote the historical contributions
of African Americans to Richmond and our nation ( Letter
from Don Campbell Superintendent, Harpers Ferry National
Historical Park ).
I have compiled in a booklet for distribution,
The History of the Gary family of
Richmond, who in 1952
fought for civil rights and housing integration with the
support of progressives, unions, churches and Black organizations.
The Gary’s story was honored by Richmond Mayor Gayle
McLaughlin by issuing a proclamation in their honor during
Black History Month 2008.
I advocate for further equity in the distribution
of resources and for an expanded African-American community
presence in our city.
As a member
of the PEU-Local #1, I believe in strong, independent,
and pro-active unions that assert and protect member rights
and benefits. I was selected by my colleagues to be the
strike captain during the last strike in which we workers
fought management for fair compensation. I worked hand-in-hand
with the shop steward organizing and coordinating labor
dialogs with peers as well as management.
As a citizen
of the United States, I see our nation in a very
deep moral and economic crisis. We need to continue the
process of rethinking and redefining ourselves as a nation
and our participation in the world.
As a Richmond
voter and a registered Democrat, I know that there
are needs in our city that cannot be postponed. We need
to take immediate action to stop the bloodshed, and to
preserve the viability of a Richmond that is healthy, fair,
diverse, inclusive, peaceful, green, abundant jobs and
prosperous. No one will do it for us, we must do it ourselves
We need a City Council that supports the People’s
My priorities will be to work
crime and violence with jobs, programs and public safety
Developing and diversifying our economy with new green
technologies and more support for small business Defending
Richmond’s health with
less toxins and more open spaces
- Building unity from our diversity,
embracing our differences and pulling Richmond together
- Better utilization of the City
funds to reduce the bureaucracy, expand services, and fix
To remain independent, and only
represent the interests of the voters, I pledge to not take
any corporate donations for my campaign.
JOVANKA BECKLES for RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL
P.O. Box 5061,
Richmond, CA 94805