The Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC) is supporting three candidates for City Council in the Nov 6 general election. They are Bea Roberson, Nat Bates and Gary Bell.
Bea Roberson grew up in a small town in Anadarko, Oklahoma. She came to Richmond in 1964 and have lived in and around Richmond ever since.
She is a registered Democrat and always has been. She cannot remember believing that the other party ever had any regard for the common middle class person. Roberson have been married and raised children and worked for the causes that affected the people where she lives.
After working for C Overaa & Co. for almost 15 years, she went to work for Alten Construction located in San Rafael but now is located in Richmond.
After 12 years of service, she retired from Alten Construction in 2010.
Roberson has served as president of the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council for the last 3 years, and Treasurer for 3 years before that. She is Chair of the Richmond Police Commission, CERT Instructor as well as serving on the executive board for Emergency Preparedness in Richmond.
She is treasurer of the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire and Police Holiday Program, which serves over 1700 families each year, providing toys for almost 5,000 children and a food basket for their family to help make their holidays a little brighter.
Roberson serves on the executive board of the Crime Prevention Program, West County liaison for the Red Cross and a disaster worker to provide services to persons displaced by fire or other disaster who need immediate shelter or assistance.
Roberson is also one of city’s Ambassadors to the new nationwide volunteerism program called Cities of Service.
Bea Roberson says she want the City Council to return to being a body where residents can come with their concerns, feel that they have been heard and expect to receive fair impartial treatment.
Gary Bell is president and CEO of Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Berkeley.
Bell has over 30 years of financial services experience including 15 years as the vice –president and branch manager of the Bank of the West office located in the inner city neighborhood of Richmond.
He was responsible for securing over $24 million in financing for affordable housing projects where there had been no private financing in nearly 30 years in Richmond’s blighted neighborhoods.
Bell served as member of the City Council from 2000 to 2005. During that time, he was chairman of the council’s Finance & Community Economic Development standing committee.
He provided oversight on major redevelopment projects including a $106 million Hope 6 grant that demolished a 240-unit crime -plagued HUD public housing project and replaced it with 142 affordable housing units.
At the age of 25, he was elected to the Wichita City Council, the largest city in the state of Kansas, making him the youngest person to ever serve on the council and the first African American elected to that position in the city’s history.
Bell served on the National League of Cities Human Development Policy Steering Committee, where he contributed to policy development on issues like welfare reform and public housing.
Bell earned a MBA in Financial Management and Organizational Leadership from JFK University.
Nat Bates has lived in Richmond since the age of four, attended Stege Elementary, Harry Ells Junior High and El Cerrito High. He attended Contra Costa College where he was a star athlete in baseball and basketball.
In 1958, he began working for the Alameda County Probation Department (ACPD) as a group counselor.
In 1963, after receiving his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University, Bates was promoted to the position of probation officer. He eventually became Deputy Probation officer, before being named Administrative Supervisor—a position he held until he retired in 1989 after 35 years.
He also worked as a field representative to then Senator Dan Boatwright.
During his employment with probation, Bates began his political career in 1967, when elected as the third African American to serve a six-year term on the Richmond City Council.
He was reelected in 1973 and served another six-year term through 1979. After the voters reduced the council term from six to four years, he was again reelected in 1979.
By then, he had served a total of 16 consecutive years through 1983. As a Councilmember, he was appointed twice as Richmond City Mayor by his colleagues in 1971-1972 and 1976-1977.
When Bates lost the 1983 election, he took a 12-year hiatus from politics. He successfully ran for election to the Richmond City Council again in 1995 and was reelected in 1999, 2004 and 2008.
His reelection in 2008 gave him an unprecedented seven terms of elective office as a Richmond City Councilmember.
Bates, who is widowed, has four children, Michael (deceased), Gale, Larry, and Steven, seven grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. He is a member of Easter Hill United Methodist Church.