ELECTION ’12//ALCO DISTRICT 2 | Mary Hayashi is a fighter. So, it shouldn’t be surprising the only East Bay politician who rivals Nadia Lockyer’s huge negatives is the candidate for her seat most likely victorious this November. I know it’s shocking and the last sentenced elicited a round of “fucks!” and knee jerk thoughts of moving the family to Tracy, but there’s reason for this growing consensus. She is probably the best candidate equipped to win the largely three-person race.
Of course, Hayashi’s election to the Alameda County Board of Supervisor just 10 months after being convicted of shoplifting would be national news, albeit, a small paragraph in The New York Times national round-up section, but big news, nonetheless. For the East Bay electorate, might be akin to Nadia Lockyer hitting rock-bottom last week in Orange County, at least, we hope.
So, you ask how could such a roundly loathed politician, especially among her colleagues even before the Oct. 25 shoplifting charge, be in position for a Bill Clinton-esque comeback this November? It’s easy. If Hayashi is a puncher with a loaded glove, the rest of the politicians in Alameda County are bitch-slappers, if not, blatant cowards. Which fighter would you take? Which would Las Vegas give the best odds?
Richard Valle, Mark Green, Mary Hayashi
While Hayashi haters and labor-friendly supporters of Supervisor Richard Valle are merely amassing their considerable forces, it is not clear whether his troops are totally unified in battling Hayashi, herself sporting vast support, in the past, for workers. It’s difficult to win the hearts and minds of the population if you can’t even inspire your own soldiers and, apparently, that is what is occurring with Valle.
Never known as the most inspiring of politicos, Valle, nonetheless appears listless in person. Assuredly, his motivation in real terms is legitimate, observers repeatedly tell me, but if you have never seen Valle in person, it is very difficult to say you will ever pine to listen to him again. One person summed up Valle’s perceived lack of enthusiasm as a second sequel to “Weekend at Bernie’s,” the 1980s film featuring Bernie, a dead man, who is propped up in public by two employees who hope to convince people their boss is still alive. Although, Valle says he is a spiritual man (he’s a practicing Buddhist), he has also shown an inclination for getting dirty as he did when grabbing the appointment for supervisor last May from Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca. Can he outdo Hayashi, whose political career has always been about intimidation and threats? How will it appear to voters if Valle, in the previous role of Mother Theresa, starts mouthing off?
Whomever is going to win this race, will have to do it by diving to the depths of negative campaigning. Hayashi can do it and has probably already rented a block of rooms in Mudville. Union City Mayor Mark Green can certainly spin a vicious and humorous sound bite better than anybody in the East Bay, but he probably has to fire off invective in both directions while also appealing to centrist voters. The best case scenario for Hayashi would be for both Valle and Green to make her into a public punching bag. The theory of being the only female in a race is a very valuable position and might be an important factor for Hayashi. While she is known to put on the charm among men in a crowded room, she no doubt is someone who punches below the belt when the referee isn’t looking.
If her mugshot is trotted out, she will play the damsel in distress and seek sympathy. She might not bring up the alleged brain tumor because that only conjures up the mess surrounding her conviction. However, she is already exhibiting a different, more successful response to the mugshot. While seeking the endorsement of the Alameda County Democratic Party, Hayashi reportedly threatened using the race and gender card against certain members if they backed Valle. So far, it has been successful, but that was before her term in the Assembly ended Aug. 31. When the party gathers this Saturday afternoon, Hayashi will have less power to dissuade dissidents to vote for Valle or vote for a non-endorsement. Rest assured, Hayashi’s team will be compiling a hit list for those who vote against her. If that doesn’t work, there are rumors Hayashi will attack Valle’s integrity by asserting his work at Tri-Ced in Union City was aided by political favors.
But, if you throw all the fisticuffs aside, the numbers are already favorable to Hayashi, if not solely because Green is in the race. Union City may not be very big, but it will likely have a disproportionate role in who wins. Both Valle and Green hail from Union City and it is likely they will split the vote in the area where they are best known. The eventually winner might not even have to break 35 percent in this scenario.
For Valle to win re-election, he is going to need quite a bit of help from Hayashi’s long list of enemies in the East Bay and Sacramento. There were rumblings that Hayash’s colleagues in the Assembly would publicly turn on her after the end of the last legislative session two weeks ago, but that hasn’t happened. However, a few unknown assembly members won’t turn the tide. Instead, a cacophony of voices will have to be heard in the next month all saying the same thing. If there is a candidates forum, between this bunch, Valle and Green could hope for a poor performance from Hayashi. She’s a bully and those sorts of people rarely emanate from a study session at the library. Hayashi rise in politics came though blunt force, not dynamic rhetorical skills.
As I wrote this summer, relying on the “mugshot” will not do the trick in denying Hayashi a seat at the Board of Supervisors, but boiling down the anger and the ill will behind the conviction to a sweet confection might. Hayashi not only indiscriminately stole $2,450 in high-end clothing from Neiman Marcus and then never really apologized, but also made excuses for her indiscretion. As a part of the State Legislature, Hayashi and her colleagues not only “stole” precious tax dollars from local cities with impunity and failed to say sorry, but continually did it every year to stick a finger in the state’s annual budget problems. To voters in the know, the second example of larceny may be more problematic for Hayashi. Are there other examples of somewhat existential theft more specific to Hayashi and her acolytes that could fit into this narrative? Probably. If you boil it all down, the most effective response to Hayashi’s artillery is to brand her with one word: thief. In fact, the word should be used so many times in tandem with her name, that they become interchangeable in voter’s mind.
IF THE ELECTION WERE TODAY…The remaining four members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors would each be figuring out a way of gaming next year’s seating assignments to avoid sitting next to Hayashi. It also begs the question of whether former Supervisor Gail Steele upon retiring sacrificed her pet goat and placed a curse on District 2.
More ominously for her rivals, if Hayashi can parlay what should have been a political death sentence last January into a significant pay upgrade this November, then she can again be viewed as the front runner for the State Senate in 2014 and that does not bode well for Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski.