RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — Chevron is pumping millions of dollars into several local races in Tuesday’s election, hoping to get its candidates into key seats on the Richmond City Council and the mayor’s office.
The oil company spent nearly $3 million on campaigns here through September of this year, and that doesn’t count money for October.
Eduardo Martinez’s campaign was making his last minute push on Monday. He’s teamed up with two other candidates dubbed “Team Richmond.” The hottest issue is the environment and much of it center around the Chevron refinery.
“Chevron has also been a major polluter and even though they do lots of things with the community, one of the things they don’t do is protect the environment,” Martinez told KPIX 5.
The oil giant has a different take on this and has spent nearly $300,000 to defeat Martinez in one of the most polarizing elections in the city.
“They see me as a threat because I’m someone who will stand up to them,” Martinez said.
Chevron has made it clear through billboards who it does support. In an email to KPIX 5, spokesperson Braden Reddall said, “We are also hopeful for productive leadership who would support our refinery’s modernization project.”
Longtime school board member, Charles Ramsey is running for city council and is adamant he’s not a lackey for Chevron, which has spent about $260,000 to help him get elected. He hasn’t put up any signs and opted instead for mailers.
When asked if Chevron was helping his campaign, Ramsey said, “I can’t say. I haven’t’ seen their polls. I don’t what their data shows. They haven’t had any contact with me about this race and I don’t want any contact with them in this race.”
But overall, it’s gotten ugly with campaign signs on both sides defaced. Some argue big money isn’t new here: casinos, soda campaigns and unions have all poured money into politics.
Chevron defends its influence stating: “The amount of money we spend to inform voters must be viewed in the context of the more than $500 million in local taxes, social investment and spending on local vendors from chevron over the past five years.”
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