HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | In a ceremony that featured numerous references to the geekdom of both the departing city council members and their two replacements, the body’s inclination for stability will again be tested. Two years after clearing the way for two new members, Hayward welcomed former City Manager Greg Jones and Al Mendall to the remade City Council.
Jones, who finished second in the June election thanked his supporters and exhorted residents to participate in the affairs of the city. “I felt like it was really a grass-roots effort,” Jones said of his relatively short and successful campaign. “There were people that I had never met that stepped forward after a phone call to come help me,” he said. “To me, that exhibited the support that I had in the community and propelled me further to work harder to be sitting up here before you.”
“There are a lot of folks that sit on the sidelines of democracy,” Jones added, “and as our mayor has said many times, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.'” It’s about getting involved and not complaining and bemoaning what’s going on unless you participate. That gives you the right to complain. Otherwise, knock it off. If you’re sitting on the sidelines and picking on these folks up here about whatever and what decision they made or whatever else–knock it off, participate, put your name out there.”
Jones also thanked his wife, former Hayward Councilwoman Anna May, for managing his campaign and running their real estate business while he was busy with the race.
Mendall, a former city planning commissioner, also thanked supporters for their work on his campaign, which finished third in the at-large race awarding council seats to the top four finishers. “I will spend the next four years trying to live up to that confidence,” he said.
When addressing his family and their continued support during the past few months, Mendall became emotional while giving a heartfelt message to his two children. “I missed a lot of family dinners and bedtimes stories over the last six months and I’m sorry for that, but you guys were so wonderful and supported me the whole time,” said Mendall.
Before Jones and Mendall took their seats on the dais, the council spent time thanking Bill Quirk and Olden Henson for their service to the community. Officers from the Hayward Police Department presented the colors before a rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” performed by students from Mt. Eden High School.
“I’ve always put Hayward first and never forgot that I represented over 150,000 people,” said Henson, whose time on the council ends after 18 years. He called his colleagues the “best council in America” and plans on continuing his advocacy for the city. “It clicked and it worked and will continue to do so,” he said of the city’s past and future. “I will continue to be here for the city. If you need me, call me.”
Quirk’s farewell was far less emotional and bit triumphant. After two terms on the council, Quirk skipped re-election to the seat for an opportunity to run for the Assembly in the 20th District. Looking relaxed and upbeat, Quirk, too, thanked the city and his colleagues for their support, while also embracing his nerdy reputation. “Yeah, I’m a geek,” he said to laughter. “I’m a super geek and, you know, that just me. I love it.”
As a few council members began talk of sending Quirk to the Assembly along with a to-do list, in some cases, For instance, Salinas asked for more state funding for new libraries, but the exchanges were a bit awkward for Jennifer Ong, Quirk’s Democrat challenger for the seat this November, who was sitting in the audience Tuesday night.
Not coincidentally, Quirk’s farewell address smoothly morphed into a campaign stump speech, likely to be heard in various iterations over the next three months. “Unless we’re dealing with astrophysics, I’m not the expert. But, you out there that are being affected by what we do, you are the experts,” Quirk, a retired scientist,said before laying out his plans for the area and the state.
The remade Hayward City Council faces some interesting decisions in the next year potentially exacerbated by growing pains within its new political dynamics. Most surround the return of Jones to the city’s decision-making apparatus. The former city manager resigned in early 2010 after an undisclosed affair with then-council member May. As reported in The Citizen last month, numerous sources familiar with the situation say the council was prepared to terminate Jones over he and May’s obfuscation of the affair.
Aside from trust issues among certain members and Jones, there are also worries about how Jones and current City Manager Fran David will interact as colleagues. David was assistant city manager under Jones before being elevated to the position upon his departure. In addition, Jones, who was instrumental in securing federal grants for a gang injunction division at the police department, gives the council’s pro-gang injunction bloc another reliable vote, when and if, the issue ever comes before the group. Recently, some council members and city staff have become noticeably tepid over the potentially costly and time-consuming program to rid Hayward of its problem with gangs and graffiti. At the reception following Tuesday night’s installation, one Hayward official simply said of Jones’s inclusion to the council, “It’s going to be interesting.”