Professor Smith Comments on Politics in Richmond

Monday, November 10, 2014
RICHMOND CONFIDENTIAL -- When looking at the very visible political dysfunction of Richmond, political experts, activists and longtime residents say the city has a representation problem — from the “pork barrel” level, where potholes and flooding go untended, to widespread ethnic and geographic disenfranchisement. They point to a broken political and electoral structure that favors wealthy constituencies and certain geographical areas over all others, compounded by what many consider to be symptoms of the system: deflated voter enthusiasm, low voter registration and even lower turnout. “Right now, there are no lower-income constituencies (in Richmond),” said Robert Smith, a political scientist at San Francisco State University who’s been watching Richmond closely. “No one is representing their interests and frustrations.”