Couch-Surfing Into Office?

ELECTION ’12//RESIDENCY | Even at this late stage of the campaign, voters in San Leandro are unclear whether city council candidate Dan Dillman really lives in District 2 or the home he owns in District 1.

Most voters in the 15th Congressional District have heard Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell’s riff on Rep. Pete Stark living in Maryland, but none of them know the 31-year-old bachelor is, as one humorous commenter quipped, “couch-surfing his way to Congress.”

While the hypocrisy of chiding an opponent for his residency even while you fail to have a consistent address yourself is ripe for ridicule, however, the situation in San Leandro is potentially far dire.

There has been chatter about Dillman’s true residency for months. Councilwoman Ursula Reed, one of Dillman’s opponents in the district roughly encompassing East 14th Street to Bay Fair Mall, said two weeks ago, she confronted Dillman about his voter registration at a two-bedroom house on 148th Avenue. “What are you going to do if you win?” she asked Dillman, who did not respond.

The residence on 148th Avenue is within the District 2 boundaries Dillman hopes to represent. However, the three-bedroom home Dillman owns and lives with his wife and children is located on Williams Street in District 1. Reed said she asked Dillman about the change in address because their children are friends and she often drops off her son at the Dillman house on Williams Street. “He lives there,” she said. “His [car] is there every day.”

Dillman registered to vote at the house at 148th Avenue last June 4, one day before the June primary, according to the Alameda County registrar. Last week, Dillman says he owns interests in various properties all over San Leandro and could conceivably be eligible to run for any of the city’s six council districts. “Do you mean where do I rest my head at night?” said Dillman, who added he often sleeps at the Bal Theater, of which he owns, along with his home in District 1 and the address listed on his voter registration in District 2. “I legitimately have residency on 148th Avenue,” Dillman said without elaborating.

The San Leandro city clerk’s office said Dillman’s qualification for running for office in District 2 checked out, but added its procedures only include a cursory check of the candidate’s voter registration filed with the county registrar. When a resident registers to vote, they certify by penalty of perjury they live at the address they provide when signing the document. The address is also presumed to be the location where you reside full-time.

Dillman, you may recall is also facing jail time next year after he was found guilty of battery against a police officer following an altercation with deputy sheriffs in front of his theater on East 14th Street. Dillman is appealing the decision.

Across the way in Dublin, rumors and good-natured teasing about Swalwell’s current residence has been circulating for months. Swalwell told The Citizen earlier this year he chose to take a leave of absence from his duties as an Alameda County deputy district attorney to avoid giving voters the impression he was spending more time campaigning than prosecuting bad guys. The move, while shrewd, also comes with a drop income. Although, it is not clear where Swalwell is living over the past few months, several sources say he was living with his parents and later with a younger brother earlier this year. Both addresses are within the 15th Congressional District.

Swalwell has made Stark’s residency in Maryland a major component of his stump speech, although it was hardly news to long-time voters in the western half of the district. Swalwell has also pledged, if elected, to live in the district. But, at whose house is anybody’s guess.

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