COUNCIL OPPOSITION TO CASSIDY MAY ALREADY BE FORMING
By Steven Tavares
With Stephen Cassidy likely to assume the mayor’s post, many in San Leandro city government are preparing for a drastic change in tenor at City Hall.
The expectation of Cassidy’s upset victory, though, has many curious whether his repellent reputation will gum the gears of government, especially the delicate harmony of the city council. “Whether Pauline [Cutter] or Corina [Lopez] joined us, I think all of us on the council work well with each other, so I’m not worried about that,” said Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak. San Leandro School Trustee Pauline Cutter defeated Corina Lopez to replace Councilman Bill Stephens.
Starosciak, who will likely finish a distant third in the mayor’s race said she was disappointed by the result and looks forward to serving the remaining two years of her term. When asked whether the council can get along with the sometimes uncompromising Cassidy she answered, “It’s up to him.”
Cassidy leads Mayor Tony Santos by a slim margin more than a week after the introduction of ranked-choice voting in the East Bay. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has yet to post official results, but is expected to do so within days.
She denies the burgeoning analysis put forth by many supporters of Santos who claim Starosciak handed the election to Cassidy. “I don’t know, that wasn’t my intent. I was trying to win. Give me a few weeks to let it set in,” Starosciak said as she exited the City Hall chambers.
Councilman Michael Gregory, who easily won re-election last week, said it takes time for a new council to mesh. He said he still remembers advice given to him by former mayor Shelia Young. “The rule of four,” Gregory knowingly said while holding up four fingers. “You can’t get anything done without three others.”
Monday’s work session featuring medical marijuana and including riveting testimony on the prevalence of illegal growers in the city may give a hint to the forces up against Cassidy. During the meeting, the possibility of a majority of the council in favor of, at least, looking into allowing dispensaries and growing facilities in San Leandro started to coalesce. Councilman Jim Prola spoke openly in favor while Stephens, Gregory and Santos hinted at support. The council will vote next Monday on placing a moratorium on medical marijuana-related commerce in the city.
The subtext to the council’s support may lie within allies for Santos aiming to saddle Cassidy with the politically explosion issue next year. The current council’s lame-duck status might manifest itself in favoring the shorter 10-month moratorium rather than the recommended length of 22 months. During the campaign, Cassidy said he would vote for Proposition 19, but opposed dispensaries and grow facilities in San Leandro fearing they would increase crime.
Curiously, there was no public acknowledgement of the past election Monday night, nor was the possible mayor-elect in attendance.
When asked whether this was the politics at play Monday night. One councilmember coyly said, “Sometimes that’s how it works.”