May 21, 2012 | When news of Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s interest in replacing Nadia Lockyer at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors was leaked, it was interpreted as a method of embarrassing the larcenous legislator, instead, it may have actually been a warning.

On Tuesday, the remaining supervisors will begin the task of picking over the strengths and liabilities of eight applicants—four legitimate, four of who are not much more than window-dressing. Whoever, the board ultimately chooses next month, the process will be all about Mary and likely drive every major storyline for the next six months of the year. Here’s what each applicant’s candidacy might mean come November:

Supervisor Keith Carson has advocated returning former supervisor Gail Steele to the dais as a way of clearing a surely hard-fought campaign season without a candidate possessing the perceived advantage of the incumbency. Ironically, according to many observers of the process, the choice of Steele would be, by far, the most advantageous pick for a future run for supervisor by Hayashi, who is conveniently termed out of her seat in the assembly at the end of the year.

How the hard-nosed Hayashi could still be in the running for the most sought after and comfortable post in Alameda County politics despite a thin legislative record and a well-known shoplifting incident last year, makes little sense to the electorate, but all the sense to the political community. There continues to be a growing feeling the district, outside of political junkies, simply does not know about Hayashi’s past. At worse, they may vaguely recall a politician stealing clothes from Neiman Marcus, but will not be able to consistently link it personally to Hayashi. Even with a substantial campaign war chest sitting in the bank, in some ways, the failing memory of voters and persistent apathy is Hayashi’s most potent weapon.

In the meantime, there will be constant reading of tea leaves and parsing over which way each supervisor will lean in the coming weeks. Aside from Steele, the front runners include former Union City councilman Richard Valle, Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca and longtime Union City Mayor Mark Green, who is also an assembly candidate in the 20th District.

Choosing any of these three would signal the board intends to set up a roadblock for Hayashi for November and possibly beyond. One astute East Bay insider believes Hayashi’s reported $800,000 in campaign fundraising represent s a zero-sum game. If the board appoints a legitimate competitor to go up against Hayashi in November it, hurts her in two ways—both entailing she use a significant portion of her war chest to compete. The rationale being that it forces Hayashi to expend precious resources that would be better spent for the seat she really covets in the near future–the House of Representatives.

So, if not Steele, which among Valle, Green and Apodaca poses the biggest threat to Hayashi? Like Green, Valle is also running for another office, in this case, mayor of Union City. Many in the area vouch for Valle’s progressive credentials and point to his near upset a few years back of Steele in District 2. During a Board of Supervisor’s meeting two weeks ago, the overwhelming number of public speakers appeared to be supporting Valle, although none specifically named him. Valle also speaks Spanish which helps him with many groups in the district who want a Latino named to the seat. District 2 represents the highest concentration of Latinos in the county. Valle’s candidacy, though, may be hurt by a perception he is being backed by the Lockyers.

Green’s bold foray into the board of supervisor’s appointment concurrently with a very competitive race for the assembly may complicate his chances. A recent poll showed Green’s chances of advancing in his assembly race to the November general election are very good, yet he may have destabilize his chance for either post with his application last week. Based on his experience leading several regional boards, there is no question Green is easily the most viable candidate for the board of supervisors. However, there is a worry that his volume of experience may actually pose a threat to the egos of some current members, who may not feel comfortable ceding their expertise on certain subjects to an appointee. In terms of facing Hayashi in November and her ravenous reputation for dirty politics, Green could be formidable. As in every race he has ever run, Green is always the most engaging and humorous of the lot. He can also trash talk, too. While Hayashi is harsh, she is also not the sweetest or funniest politician around, by any means.

The most interesting appointee, then, would be Apodaca. The community wants a Latino. Check, Apodaca. There is also word one of the supervisors desires another female colleague on the board. Check, Apodaca. You would also be hard pressed to find someone in the East Bay that has something negative to say about her. The only question for her viability afterwards is she was not able to win her run for mayor of Newark last year. Despite the presence of a discernible old boy’s network still alive in Newark, her defeat, nonetheless, surprised quite a few. Her potential appointment would also fall under the category of “Karma is a bitch.” Apodaca, you see, was chief of staff for former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, the woman who lost out to Nadia Lockyer and Bill Lockyer’s $1.8 million in the 2010 race for supervisor. Apodaca and Figueroa are still very tight.

In a story teeming with lies, betrayal and immorality involving a politician buying a seat for his drug-addled wife, don’t think for a moment Figueroa wouldn’t relish sitting in her Half Moon Bay home with a glass of wine knowing her protégé walked away with Nadia’s Lockyer’s old seat on the Board of Supervisors. That’s vindication of the highest order and possibly the only way to end this most emabarrasing and awful period in Alameda County politics.