ELECTION 12//ALCO DIST 2 | Just moments after the Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Richard Valle to replace Nadia Lockyer on June 11, his main challenger, Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca, approached amid exuberant applause and congratulated him. Valle embraced Apodaca and kissed her on the cheek. According to nearly a dozen sources, Valle’s action may have been less about gratitude and more like Michael Corleone applying the kiss of death on his brother, Fredo, in The Godfather.
Once Valle stepped to the lectern to thank his new colleagues, things immediately turned bizarre with two references to a “secret” he had passed on to board. “It’s very difficult, as you four know, based on the statements which I just made, to withhold information, but I think in time, people need to know,” he said obliquely. Afterwards, he added, “There’s something else that is important that should come out at some point and my quotes are based on something that happened that I believe the supervisors needed to know and I think that made the difference and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Richard Valle, Ana Apodaca
When asked again about the “secret” two weeks later, Valle turned to his chief of staff and said, “I guess I can let the cat out of the bag.” Valle claimed the information passed on to the board involved a “high-placed” source confirming Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was, indeed. planning to run for the seat in November and, if victorious, would use the remaining two years of Lockyer’s term to launch her candidacy for the state Senate.
The news, however, was hardly a revelation. Most East Bay politicians had readily heard the rumor and, in hindsight, many of them were contacted about supporting her candidacy as early as last May. For instance, on May 21, both I and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Matthai Kuruvila questioned a very talkative Supervisor Nate Miley about the potential for Hayashi running for the seat. “I don’t know if you can have a fair competition if Mary runs,” said Miley, who added the possibility of her fall candidacy would have little bearing over whom the board would appoint.
According to numerous sources within labor and the local Democratic Party, Valle’s “secret” had nothing to do with Hayashi, but a coordinated and ruthless campaign to smear Apodaca, the applicant whose candidacy had begun to pose a threat to Valle’s early front runner status. During the initial rounds of the interview process, Apodaca was the only candidate to receive votes from all four supervisors. In addition, Supervisor Wilma Chan had publicly voiced a desire to replace Lockyer with another woman.
During the initial interview session, May 29, several board members urged the five candidates to submit to be sequestered outside the supervisor’s chambers. Union City Mayor Mark Green would be interviewed first by way of a lottery conducted by the county registrar. The remaining three, Sheryl Grant, Valle and Apodaca, who would be interviewed last, left the room. According to the sources, Valle alleged a surrogate for Apodaca, still inside the public meeting room was electronically relaying the board’s questions and various responses from the candidates to Apodaca’s smart phone.
Apodaca declined to comment, but denied the allegation last month. When Wilma Chan was asked about the validity of Valle’s “secret” being an allegation regarding Apodaca’s integrity during the appointment process, Chan said, “I don’t want to comment on that, but there were many reasons why we chose Richard.”
In the hindsight, this was not the first time Valle attempted play dirty in order to gain the supervisorial appointment. During the same period, a spate of anonymous emails was sent to many Tri-Cities Democrats alleging nefarious ties between Apodaca and former Senate Pro Tem President Don Perata.
“Perata is calling Supervisors, cutting deals and making promises to place Ana Apodaca on the Board so he can have a puppet and gain more control in Alameda County,” said the unidentified email linked to Web site purchased on May 31. “But we can Stop Don Perata by e-mailing our County Supervisor and saying “NO” to Ana Apodaca and Don Perata. We’re tired of Don Perata’s backroom deals and politics for profit!” Apodaca claimed no personal contact with Perata for years.
Revelation over Valle’s ruthlessness in gaining the seat this summer, however, may placate many critics who believe his quiet, genteel, almost chronically spiritual personality will be no match for the “Any means necessary” ethos of Hayashi and the sharp-witted tongue of Mark Green. But, it may also alienate Apodaca supporters, many of whom are women and proudly Latino.