Jovanka Beckles for Richmond City Council
Home About Opinions News and Pictures Issues Endorsements Contribute Volunteer Get Involved Email Jovanka

A Better Richmond is Happening!


Jovanka Beckles

  • Richmond Councilmember (2010-2014)
  • Planning Commissioner, City of Richmond (2009-2010) 
  • Economic Development Commissioner, City of Richmond (2007-2009)
  • General Plan Development Advisor, City of Richmond (2007-2008)
  • President of the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council (2009)
  • Vice-President of the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council  (2008)
  • Member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • 2nd Vice-President of Black Women Organized for Political Action (2009)
  • Board Member, Citizens For East Shore Parks
  • Educator, Counselor, Small Business Owner,
    Environmentalist, Crime Reduction Specialist
  • Masters in Business Administration degree, Merchants Association Initiator
  • African American and Latina
  • Richmond History Researcher
  • Rotarian
  • Independent, takes no corporate donations for her campaigns

                                          Videos of Jovanka

                                                            2014 Campaign Statement

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, resident-focused leadership.

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!

I stand 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 (, 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.

As the 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.

Additional background:

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.

As the 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 all concerned?
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), I 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 priorities.

My priorities will be to work on:

  • Preventing 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 our streets.

To remain independent, and only represent the interests of the voters, I pledge to not take any corporate donations for my campaign.

Peace and blessings,

Jovanka Beckles

P.O. Box 5061,
Richmond, CA 94805


"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
- BARACK OBAMA, speech, Feb. 5, 2008

Join me, and many good friends, neighbors and supporters in a celebration of truth and good ideas.
We need them both and badly in Richmond, and we need them soon.

My priorities will be to work on:
Preventing crime and violence with jobs, youth 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 toxic places and more open spaces
Building unity from our diversity,
embracing our differences and pulling together as one Richmond
Better utilization of City funds
to reduce the bureaucracy, expand services, and fix our streets.

Join our campaign!
Phone: 510-698-9309       E-mail:       Write: P.O. Box 5061, Richmond, CA 94805

Sincere Design Jovanka Beckles for Richmond City Council         FPPC # 1397178