June 10, 2012 | Nearly a week after a deadlocked vote to replace Nadia Lockyer allowed for further political horse trading, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed former Union City Councilman Richard Valle to fill the five-month appointment. Valle says he will run for re-election in November and potentially against a host of strong contenders.

The choice of Valle comes after significant pressure was applied by various county labor groups who have touted his candidacy throughout the past month. Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca, who, along with Valle, received two votes from the board June 5, embraced Valle after his appointment was sealed by a 4-0 vote. Valle in return gave Apodaca a kiss on the cheek.

Jockeying for the seat vacated by former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer had been generally complimentary until the past week or so after groups with ties to labor engaged in a low-level whisper campaign against Apodaca’s candidacy. Residents in District 2, for instance, received emails alleging ties between Apodaca and former county supervisor Don Perata. The tenor of the unsolicited emails asserted Apodaca’s candidacy represented an entry point for Perata to manipulate county interests. Apodaca denied any connection.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who changed his vote in favor of Valle, said he was disappointed in the series of smear attacks against Apodaca. “Up until then I thought it was a very civil dialogue in which two opposing camps disagreed.” With the board now at full-strength, Haggerty said, “It’s time for us to get to work. There have been way too many distractions and side issues that have been affecting us and our ability to do our job as effectively as I believe we should.”

County labor unions, notably the Alameda County Labor Council, filled the board chambers early Monday morning with Valle supporters sporting large stickers that read, “Valle. Yes. Si se puede.” Labor’s fingerprints were reportedly all over the board’s decision to appoint Valle. “In this district, labor has coalesced around a single candidate,” said Dave Connolly, president of the Alameda Labor Council. “That is always not possible, but in this case the working men and women in District 2 have selected and spoken with one voice for Richard Valle.” After Valle’s swearing in, he received congratulations from supporters and posed for a string of photos with labor leadership who attended the special meeting.

Valle called the wide and distinct swath of support in District 2 as a key to his appointment. When asked about labor’s role, Valle said, “It was a big part, but I think, what you saw here today was a cross-section of labor, faith-based organizations, a lot of different cultures and ethnic groups coming together and neighborhood people all representative of District 2.”

For all practical measures, Valle’s campaign for supervisor in November starts now. Many county observers believe Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi is seriously contemplating a run for supervisor this fall. Her two-terms in the Assembly expires in December. In many ways, the board’s choice was predicated on elevating a viable candidate to compete against a political heavyweight like Hayashi, or, even possibly, former Assemblyman Alberto Torrico. When Valle was asked whether he could beat Hayashi in November, he said,  “With everyone’s support, yes, absolutely.”