ELECTION ’12//SAN LEANDRO | The East Bay political fixer involved in the Eric Swalwell Dublin pay-to-play allegations is also trying to make a mark in his old stomping grounds, San Leandro.
Gordon Galvan has been busy writing checks, according to recent finance reports, while attaching himself personally and with other groups to races in San Leandro this fall, although recent events have brought his past, marred with political upheaval, to public light.
For Galvan, playing his sometimes controversial hand in local politics isn’t new considering his past stint on San Leandro City Council a decade ago and his $11,250 fine in 2003 for violating 10 counts of the state’s Fair Political Practices Act. His recent no-bid contract with the City of Dublin after he and his associates at AVI gave thousands to congressional candidate, Eric Swalwell, is now known, but he is also involved with three financially influential bodies in the San Leandro city council race.
Galvan has donated to no other candidate other than Morgan Mack-Rose for District 2. She was recently caught in a blatant lie about Ursula Reed receiving an iPad on taxpayer’s money. The city’s IT department, however, said it was not true. Galvan donated a total of $2,250 to Mack-Rose’s campaign between August, 17 and September, 27.
Many in San Leandro believe Galvan is using this election to become a big player in local politics through his fundraising and contacts. In addition, to the contribution to Mack-Rose’s campaign, large especially for San Leandro council races, Galvan has also dropped $5,000 on Swalwell and attempted to set up an independent expenditure committee to help Swalwell, although, finance reports show no activity since its start in late August. Gordon is also involved with fundraising for Measure L, San Leandro’s school parcel tax initiative, even though his father-in-law’s powerful real estate interests are the measure’s lone official opposition. Both Mack-Rose and Crow are both staunch supporters of Measure L. In an interview for the Swalwell pay-to-play story, Galvan admitted fundraising for Measure L was not going as well as planned.
Furthermore, Galvan is the chairman of the newly formed San Leandro Chamber of Commerce’s PAC and also happens to be on its three-person board of directors. Mack-Rose worked for the chamber for a short time last year while sitting concurrently as the school district’s board president. Thus far the Chamber has donated some of the larger sums of cash in the San Leandro election, opting for the skilled and experienced incumbent Jim Prola in District 6 over school board trustee Hermy Almonte but also funding candidates Chris Crow (District 4) and Mack-Rose.
Crow has also encountered trouble this election season when he was caught by The Citizen lying about his warrant for marijuana possession, his endorsement from Wilma Chan, and recent controversy over his Facebook comments about Chinese Olympic athletes that some in San Leandro’s Asian community considered racist. The young candidate though did receive substantial amount of funds from the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce’s new PAC. The PAC has given $1,000 to Crow and Prola in the last reporting period but for Mack-Rose they have given a total of $5,000 over the course of two reporting periods.
Galvan has also been affiliated with the ominous political San Leandro group, The Sentinels, that date back to the early 1970’s and was the political apparatus of Old San Leandro and the late and powerful Mayor Jack Maltester. However, their power has waned greatly over the years. Members of The Sentinels usually donate sums of money quarterly at $125 although a few exceed that amount. Galvan’s money is just one small component that makes up the large sums that are dished out in local elections. In recent financial filings, Galvan’s name is absent, but other financial contributors include the recently deceased Dale Reed, Robert Jones of Robert Jones & Associates, Tom Dlugosh of Dlugosh Cabinets, and among others. The Sentinels have given their sole endorsement and money to Mack-Rose totaling at $2,500.
Additional reporting by Steven Tavares.