Shawn Wilson, the chief of staff for Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, reluctantly came into the office last Monday morning to learn the unexpected–the boss was hanging them up.
According to Wilson, the conversation was short, but clear, the two-term supervisor was done. “I’ve been around her long enough to know when she’s made a decision, she’s thought it through,” said Wilson.
Although Lai-Bitker has not elaborated further on her reasons for not seeking re-election this year other than her two-page statement Tuesday. Some believe part of the circumstances behind the surprise announcement deals with the likelihood of excruciating budget decisions this year along with the loss of her mother last September.
Lai-Bitker often used her mother’s advice in the decison-making process, Wilson said, and may not have the energy to stomach another round of tough budget cuts the board of supervisors will need to make.
Her departure has those aspiring to replace her in frenzy lining up possible endorsements and horse trading. Those believed to have interest in the supervisor’s seat include Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, former Assemblywoman and Supervisor Wilma Chan along with Wilson.
It is believed Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente will not seek the position, while many sources have floated the possibility of state Sen. Ellen Corbett. Such a move from Sacramento to Oakland could possibly shuffle the players in a number of election year races, including the state senate, assembly and the supervisor’s race to replace retiring Gail Steele.
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