By STEVEN TAVARES
In front of a crowd, Nadia Lockyer appears uncomfortable. She shifts. Her eyes dart with some unknown worry. The further she steps to the right of center stage, the more her anxiety seems to subside. That was the observation as she opened her campaign headquarters Thursday night in Hayward. But that’s only half of the story.
The well-funded candidate hoping to replace the retiring Gail Steele on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors spares no expense. Boxes of slick black and red lawn signs sit at the front of the rather large A Street office. The real estate is honestly more befitting of a campaign for U.S. Senate than the board of supervisors. The spread laid out for supporters is a typical selection of party platters along local pols gulping down glasses of white wine. Lockyer’s campaign has vastly outraised and outspent her three rivals for the seat so much that one of her opponents, Hayward Councilman Kevin Dowling said in jest, she’s singlehandedly boosting the local economy by hiring so many high-priced consultants.
Yet, on the surface, there is very little known about Lockyer’s opinions on the issues confronting the county. Her website only offers a quick bio, while other candidates in both open races for the board list reviving the local economy with jobs and health care, in addition, to boosting funding for education as part of their vision. Frankly, the political answer is she doesn’t have to talk about the issues when she has the Lockyer name, powerful financial and political contacts and a pretty face. Here, though, is the intriguing part of Nadia Lockyer, when the spotlight is not blaring like klieglights in her eyes a different candidate shows up. The dynamic is not if we’re looking at an empty pants suit, but possibly a candidate some will wistfully look back and remember the first time Nadia Lockyer ran for office and what she later became.
Lockyer is hard to peg. She has a quite charisma. She’s thin yet strong. Has focused, but kind round eyes and flashes a sometimes uncertain toothy half-grin. As opposed to her opponent, former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, who tends to flash a coy smile that make men gush, Lockyer pulls an uncanny ability to connect with women. Standing in the crowded campaign office, it’s clear women of every age and color simply adore Lockyer. It’s really no different than the generation-busting cadre of female supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, who while shouting encouragement at rally’s in Oakland two years ago, were really shouting for the advancement of women in general. Older women view her as their successful younger sister and young women look at her as the person they want to be. Lockyer’s female supporters were, for the most part, uninterested in snacking on the policy details, they just wanted to shake her hand, embrace her or, as one person did, merely said goodbye and blew a kiss. The exuberant group at one point had Lockyer holed up in the doorway of a storage area for nearly 30 minutes.
On the whole, Lockyer’s nervousness in the spotlight could point to a disenchantment with the standard operating procedures of politics. Her luster shines far less when she is asked to play the role of politician than performing the duties of being a politician. When Bill’s “friends” show up the party changes from a hipsters paradise to old dudes breaking out card tables, sipping on Highballs and telling old war stories from their days in Sacramento.
When the former chairman of the California Democratic Party Art Torres stood in front of the throng, he along with Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi sucked the genuine air out of the room. The slicked silver-haired Torres performed a standard cocktail hour schtick replete with references to his once-black pate while explaining why Lockyer was the candidate for the job. The scene bore more in common with the opening remarks at a meeting of the Loyal Order of the Moose than the introduction of a possibly tranformative local politician. Hayashi made note of the dignitaries in attendance and said she was the person who urged the former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass to run along the current Speaker John Perez. Of course, the implication was we should thank her for her personnel decision as if she was the plucky baseball scout in wool overcoat and fedora who discovered a young Willie Mays playing stick ball in rural Alabama. I think Bill found her first.
So, maybe Lockyer doesn’t need the name or the backing in the Democratic Party that is attached to her famous surname. It sure doesn’t hurt, but once she plays by her own rules, there’s no tempering the enthusiasm she generates. She says her campaign is about families. It’s for the mom’s. As the event wound down, volunteers gathered up the leftovers and straightened up the kids room in the center office. Nadia was gone, but Bill stayed around to help clean up. If that isn’t a sign of the times-they-are-a-changin’, I don’t know what is.
JOIN THE REVOLUTION! http://www.eastbaycitizen.com