Mindell Lewis Penn was a city council member in the city of Richmond, California between 1999 and 2005. She was age 60 in 2005, is a graduate of the UC Davis Financial School of Management, and is affiliated with the "powerful" Bay Area group Black Women Organized For Political Action. She was an executive for PG&E working in community relations and finance, and was elected twice as the chairwoman of the Sacramento Urban League board of directors. She served on the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park project committee.
Richmond City Council, 1999
Mindell Penn was first elected to the city council in 1999. This election occurred during a time when Richmond city leaders were under investigation by the FBI for political corruption. Penn ran a campaign with the slogan, "My vote will never be for sale." She was backed by two local political action committees, the Black American Political Action Committee and West County United. Among the list of twelve candidates, with five winning seats, Penn topped the polling. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Penn stated, "I ran a clean campaign, and I don't have hidden agendas...People are tired of dirty politics, and it showed."
Richmond City Council, 2004
In the November 2004 election, where the top five candidates out of fifteen running were elected, she finished fourth. She ran with campaign goals to "make Richmond a clean, safe and beautiful destination waterfront city" and also to "restore" services for seniors and youth. Penn spent $20,000 on her campaign. At the 1 March 2005 meeting, the city council adopted without objection an ordinance, sponsored by Mindell Penn and María Viramontes, to divest city funds from financial institutions linked to slavery. Richmond was the first city in California to do so, and in the country second behind only Chicago. Mentioning the word "reparations", this story was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and carried in papers in Salt Lake City, and Bluffton, South Carolina. Penn received attention in April 2005 for plans, based on fatalities in Detroit, to improve the city's rental home inspection program. Detroit was again mentioned two months later when Penn resigned, six months into her second term, citing a desire to move to Detroit to live with her elderly mother.
- Cecilia M. Vega (June 1, 2005). "Richmond. Councilwoman says she will resign". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate. p. B.5. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
Councilwoman Mindell Lewis Penn...will resign at the end of the month...move to Detroit to be with her elderly mother. Penn, 60, was first elected...in 1999 and re-elected in November.
- Finances, Jobs, Safety Top Issues in Richmond Race, J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, Berkeley Daily Planet, 20-08-2004, access date 23-12-2011
- "News Archives - sacbee.com. Urban League board elected". Sacramento Bee. nl.newsbank.com. November 5, 1991. p. B3. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
Mindell Penn has been elected to a second term as chairwoman of the Sacramento Urban League board of directors. Penn, administrator of small business affairs for Pacific Gas and Electric Co...
- "Rosie the Riveter Memorial Project History". US National Park Service. Rosie the Riveter Trust. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
panel...formed...on January 16, 1998. The Rosie the Riveter Selection Panel consists of...businesswoman Mindell Penn...
- "Vision and strategic plan" (PDF). US National Park Service. Rosie the Riveter Trust. June 11, 2005. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
She currently serves as First Vice-President on the BWOPA State Board of Directors, the Contra Costa County Community College Board of Trustees, and the Rosie the Riveter Trust Board of Directors. In 2002, she retired from Pacific Gas and Electric Company as Director of Government Relations, Contra Costa County.
- Meredith May, Chronicle staff writer (November 4, 1999). "Politics take an unusual turn in Richmond. Consultant's iron grip collapses". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
The most popular candidate, newcomer Mindell Penn, wore a power-red blazer in campaign mailers with her picture above the slogan, 'My vote will never be for sale.'
- "City contests for Contra Costa County, CA". League of Women Voters of California Education Fund. December 6, 2004. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "CC01MAR2005.pdf" (PDF). City of Richmond. March 1, 2005. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
Consent calendar...ORDINANCE – regarding the Slavery Era Disclosure Act and disclosure and divestment of investment earnings from City-sponsored Pension Funds or Investment Funds from financial and insurance institutions that benefit from international investment in slavery – Second Reading – Councilmember Penn and Viramontes (620-6513).
- Jason B. Johnson, Chronicle staff writer (March 12, 2005). "EAST BAY. Firms that profited from slavery reviewed. Richmond, Oakland consider early step to seeking reparations.". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
Some activists are hopeful these laws may one day help secure reparations for African Americans.
- Jason B. Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle (March 21, 2005). "2 California cities look at profits from slavery. Movement may lead to restitution payments". Salt Lake City: Deseret News. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
Richmond Councilwoman Maria Viramontes, who proposed the measure along with fellow Councilwoman Mindell Penn, said the city's new law was inspired by the events in Chicago...
- San Francisco Chronicle (March 21, 2005). "Firms that profited from slavery reviewed". South Carolina: Beaufort Gazette. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
- "CC05JUNE21.pdf" (PDF). City of Richmond. June 21, 2005. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
Councilmember Penn announced that this would be her last meeting as a City Councilmember.
- Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle staff writer (November 3, 2004). "Richmond. Richmond sticks with 3 council members". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate. p. B8. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
Mindell Lewis Penn waits along with...Chronicle photo by...(picture of Mindell Penn on election day 2004)
- "Tragedy Inspires Action in Richmond: Penn Spearheads Plan to Improve the City's Rental Home Inspection Program". West County Times. April 11, 2005. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- Nanci L. Valcke (December 23, 2001). "USFilter beats out EBMUD". San Francisco Business Times. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
The plant is 'a very large asset to the city,' said Councilwoman Mindell Lewis Penn, one of USFilter's five votes. 'Giving up that asset was a big consideration for me.'