RICHMOND -- A dozen residents have submitted statements declaring interest in filling Richmond's vacant City Council seat.
The list includes former council members, candidates from last year's election and political newcomers.
But the names give little hint as to how Monday's council appointment vote will unfold. Candidates need four of the six available council votes to be appointed to the seat, which became vacant when Councilman-elect Gary Bell fell ill around the time of his November election.
Three votes -- Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and council members Jovanka Beckles and Tom Butt -- are expected to go to Eduardo Martinez, a Richmond Progressive Alliance candidate who finished less than 1 percentage point behind Bell in November.
With council members Corky Boozé and Nat Bates staunchly opposed to another RPA member on the council, Councilman Jim Rogers has been lobbied by all sides for weeks but remains publicly noncommittal. If no one gets four votes, the seat will be filled by a special election in June.
"Rogers may hold the hole card that will result in an appointment or an election," Butt wrote in an email to supporters Friday morning.
The 12 statements of interest turned in to the City Clerk's Office on Thursday included former Councilmen John Marquez and Tony Thurmond. Six candidates from November also submitted short statements of intent, which were filed free of charge. The six were Martinez, Mike Ali-Kinney, Eleanor Thompson, Mark Wassberg, Bea Roberson and Jael Myrick.
Newcomers include Stann Cortez, a 33-year-old who described himself as "self-employed;" Vinay Pimple, a 45-year-old small-business owner with a law degree from UC Berkeley; and Don Gosney, 58, a well-known retired steamfitter who attends all City Council meetings and frequently speaks publicly.
Rogers on Friday said he has been lobbied by all sides but keeps an open mind.
"Some people firmly believe the seat should go to a candidate similar to Gary Bell, and some think that Eduardo was vetted by the people and got a lot of votes despite taking all the Chevron hit pieces," Rogers said. "Both are good arguments, but I want to hear from everybody (Monday) before making a decision."
Rogers has said that he has no qualms about a special election if necessary, even though it could cost the city at least $100,000.
"A fraction of a percent (of the city's budget) is a small price to pay if we think that is how we get the best council," Rogers said. "This is the big leagues."
The coalition of local African-American groups that supported Bell has thrown its support to Kathleen Sullivan, a 57-year-old former chairwoman of the city's Human Rights and Human Relations Commission and the president of the local chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action.
If the council deadlocks Monday, a special election in June is likely to mobilize competing political factions and draw a wave of political spending by Chevron, which operates a large oil refinery in Richmond. Chevron spent more than $1 million in November helping to get Bell elected, both with direct support to his campaign and in opposition to RPA candidates Martinez and Marilyn Langlois.
Political observers see slim hopes of any candidate getting four votes Monday, but a compromise is possible.
Myrick, a 27-year-old field representative for Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, casts himself as a candidate who could be palatable to both sides. In his statement, Myrick stressed his community service work with youths, previously convicted residents and "progressive campaigns," themes that may resonate with both sides of the city's political divide.
What: Special Richmond City Council meeting to vote on appointment to vacant council seat
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Where: 450 Civic Center Plaza
Details: Each candidate will be given several minutes to address the council and public before the vote. Go to ContraCostaTimes.com to read their statements of interest.