Hayward’s Hot Race For Council; Lee’s District; Miley’s Missteps; Tight Judge Race

June 5, 2012 | No other race in the East Bay has more variations of a predicted outcome than Hayward’s City Council race. If the state’s top two primary system will harbor a dog fight among multiple candidates, imagine the slugfest in Hayward’s nine-person at-large race offering four seats on the council. Add to the pot there are three candidates viable incumbents and you have a very interesting race that may force everyone scrambling for an edge. It is very hard to construct a model that shows clear winners and one without the potential for a small spread between winning and losing.

Again, turn out is the key for some candidates especially former City Manager Greg Jones and Planning Commisser Al Mendall and, moreso for second-tier candidates like Peter Bufete and Ralph Farias, Jr. If turnout is similar to the last Hayward City Council race in June 2010, there will be wholesale number crunching. To further tighten things, only 24,080 people cast votes last time around, except that race only featured six candidates vying for two open seats. In addition, none of the candidates were incumbents. This time around, the field is larger, but offers twice as many slots along with three incumbents.

Among those hoping to be re-elected, there is a generally feeling that Councilwoman Barbara Halliday’s seat is the safest based on her performance and being the only viable female on the ballot. She is the current council’s only female representative. Councilman Olden Henson, despite harsh words from the city’s business interests over his vote blocking Walmart, most believe, should sneak by on name recognition. Councilman Francisco Zermeno, though, could have a tough time on Tuesday night. His seat has always been viewed as the weakest and the inclusion of Greg Jones to the field, gave the race a fifth frontline candidate. Jones also potentially hurts Mendall.

If you can pencil in Halliday and Henson, Tuesday’s race could be a battle for the two remaining spots among Zermeno, Jones and Mendall.

CONGRESS 13 Rep. Pete Stark is not the only East Bay liberal lion up for re-election this June. Voters in San Leandro, for the first time, will likely trade in one lefty for another in Rep. Barbara Lee. In a lot of ways, Lee’s primary challenge by Republican Marilyn Singleton and Democrat/Tea Party consort (WTF?) Justin Jelincic is a lot like the races Stark use to face. A few palookas to run against, put up a couple of signs and call it a day. The difference? Lee eschews confrontation and Stark doesn’t.

ALCO SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 4 This has not been a good campaign season for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. Although, he is favored to beat Alameda County probation officer Tojo Thomas, it would not be surprising if we look back one day at the airing of his many indiscretions in this race and witness the seeds of his unraveling. There is no excuse for Miley’s performance that has been caustic and immensely too honest for his own good. Why is he even addressing his opponent, who has never held political office, anyway?

For Thomas, this race is no-lose proposition. If he strikes a miracle and wins, he wins, but, more likely if does better than expected, the performance might make some powerful interests to ask, who is this guy? In that case, the rantings of Miley’s aide insinuating Thomas, who is of Indian descent, was less-than-American for playing cricket with possessed contacts with Silicon Valley monied types will come true. In the meantime, it could be said that the neophyte Thomas has run the most flawless primary campaign of any candidate in the East Bay. He read the playbook correctly and made the race entirely about an opponent with many skeletons in the closet and Miley took the bait. What we may take from this race is a lot of what-ifs. What if Thomas had more money? What if he had a proper campaign staff? What if there was more time for additional allegations of corruption to pop up before election day?

ALAMEDA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE Campaign signs for Alameda County Superior Court candidate Tara Flanagan are all over the area from Oakland to Hayward and her opponents don’t like it. Opponents Catherine Haley and Andrew Weiner have consistently complained that Flanagan’s signs are illegally displayed on public land. Their complaints have fallen on deaf ears and Flanagan has plead ignorance. It’s not surprising that Flanagan is an ex-rugby player since she has tried to bulldoze through the allegations. Making this controversies even more difficult is that judicial races are somewhat unique in local politics. They are clearly non-partisan and shun candidates flinging negative campaigning, that is, in public. In private, this has been a very negative campaign, but also one with three viable candidates who most believe would make fine jurists. Because this is a non-partisan race, it does not fall under the state’s new top two primary system. A candidate that garners over 50 percent of the primary vote wins outright. If not, as projected in this race, the top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.