Figueroa’s Back Taxes to the Future

Former state senator still says taxes are ‘current’; Lockyer hits back hard By Steven Tavares
Former state Sen. Liz Figueroa and candidate for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors has failed to pay property taxes for the past three years on her Sunol residence, according the Alameda County tax collector.

Figueroa, along with Nadia Lockyer, Hayward Councilman Kevin Dowling and Union City Mayor Mark Green, are heading towards a likely contentious last few days until next Tuesday’s primary election. The Lockyer campaign seized on comments made by Figueroa Tuesday morning on the KGO Radio after a caller questioned whether her taxes were up-to-date. She responded by saying they were “current.”

Tax records show Figueroa owes three years worth of property tax on a property she owns in Sunol totalling $13,939.96. Figueroa says she calls the Sunol property her “official residence” even though she admits it is uninhabitable since a tree fell through its roof. In addition, she owes $1,579.30 on a another home in San Mateo County.

Figueroa says she has “never denied” her tax problems during the campaign. In preparation of reporting Figueroa’s tax problemsacknowledged her unpaid bills after a meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District May 19 and said she did not live in the Sunol residence, but at a nearby rental in town. Sunol is located within the boundaries of the Board of Supervisors District 2 seat.

The trouble with the Sunol property started from the beginning, she says. After purchasing the home in 2005, she encountered trouble procuring permits for improvements, she says. Until earlier this year, Figueroa says she was under the “assumption” a tax impound account had been set-up to handle the property taxes. Once she became aware of the tax delinquency, she says she initiated a payment plan with the county tax collector, which she says is “current.” The property is currently on the market.

The Lockyer campaign, which is also reeling from allegation campaign materials falsely portrayed the candidate as a “deputy district attorney,” quickly jumped at Figueroa’s characterization of the her tax issues. In a lengthy press release, Lockyer lashed out at Figueroa’s comments saying it portrays her financial woes as systematic of the poor economy most Americans are encountering. “She has a plum political appointment on the California State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that pays $114,191 annual salary,” the campaign said. The campaign also references $10,000 Figueroa lent her campaign last March.

Dowling, who appears to be the beneficiary of the Lockyer-Figueroa political feud, says he has paid his taxes and wonders why Figueroa has not. “Why would you run for office if you have not paid your taxes?” asked Dowling.

Figueroa called the scrutiny on her taxes “an attempt to distract voters” from Lockyer’s recently disclosed financial report. In it she questions whether State Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s recent $55,000 contribution to the Democratic Party was the reason she did not receive, at least, a split endorsement, instead of the full endorsement Nadia Lockyer received from the party. “I don’t play games with this constituency,” said Figueroa, “I have been here a long time representing this area.”

The issue of delinquent taxes has been a common theme in Figueroa’s campaign history. When she ran for state senate in 1998, her primary opponent and current Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney sent mailers in the campaign’s final days to voters describing her then $21,000 tax lien. The mailer, though, became one of the most infamous campaign blunders in the East Bay over the past decade when they included Figueroa’s social security number. In addition, to making Figueroa susceptible to identity theft, two local politicians had recently been targeted by an unknown assailant, something she made a campaign issue with just days before the primary which she eventually won along with the senate seat in November.