Lockyer’s Lack of Local Background is Hurting

By Steven Tavares

Just how much Steele’s surprise endorsement changes the dynamic of this race with just three weeks to go is still up in the air. A former Hayward official who chose not to be named said Steele’s reputation in the community is strong. “Gail is not a typical politician,” they said, “but she has a personal touch with everything she does. I think people remember her for that.”

Shortly after news last week of Lockyer’s robust fundraising figures, a scathing mailer was sent to voter last Wednesday again highlighting Figueroa’s on-going problem with delinquent property taxes. The letter, designed to look like a tax bill, details Figueroa’s tax liabilities and noting her $120,000 salary at the state unemployment department. Ironically, current Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney employed a near replica of the mailer to Hayward voters in 1998 when he ran against Figueroa for state senate. That mailer also alleged she was a tax cheat, but infamously included Figueroa’s social security number.

The mailer is also part of local Hayward poltical lore and is widely believed to have cost Sweeney that election. When asked about the historic significance of the Lockyer mailer, Lockyer’s campaign consultant Katie Merrill said, “We didn’t talk about that. That was before I was around.”

The release of this latest mailer is showing a softness in support of Lockyer, some believe. According to person who has seen internal polling done three weeks ago by the Lockyer camp, Figueroa has nearly erased her opponent’s lead from the June primary despite the wide disparity in fundraising. The source tells The Citizen, the poll showed Lockyer leading Figueroa by just two points, without factoring in the statistical margin of error. Lockyer won the June primary with 38 percent of the vote. Figueroa advanced to next month’s runoff by narrowly beating Union City Mark Green with 25 percent.