Sweeney’s Departure Next Year Leaves A Wide-Open Mayoral Race In Hayward

Two terms is enough for Michael Sweeney.

HAYWARD//2014 ELECTION/MAYOR | Two weeks ago, when striking city employees in Hayward mocked Mayor Michael Sweeney for taking a vacation while they stood outside City Hall demanding a new contract, long-time observers uttered a similar refrain: “What? Sweeney took a vacation?”

Citing a new direction in his life outside of the mayor’s office, Sweeney announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election next year. It seems Sweeney, 63, and his reclusive ways is in line for a few more vacations in the coming years.

Sweeney’s announcement is a surprise to some, but many Hayward politicos had speculated he might leave office after two terms. The belief began to rise when Councilmember Francisco Zermeno announced his campaign for mayor this spring, whether Sweeney ran or not.

The decision appears to be a personal choice to end nearly two decades in public office following stints in the State Assembly and advocacy in Hayward. Most observers believe Sweeney’s prospects for re-election next year were high. He last won re-election in 2010 against a write-in candidate and winning over 98 percent of the vote.

Wednesday’s news sets up a wide-open mayoral race in Hayward likely to be one of the most interesting in the entire East Bay. Hayward holds its elections in June without a November run-off.

Along with Zermeno, who has been campaigning through the summer, many of his colleagues on the City Council have either voiced interest in running for mayor or could potentially become candidates following the newly-open seat.

They include Councilmembers Barbara Halliday and Mark Salinas who have reportedly showed interest to various community members in running. In addition, some believe Councilmembers Greg Jones and Marvin Peixoto could throw their hats into the race. Do the math: the list of potential candidates is nearly the entire current council. Former Councilmember Olden Henson, who lost his seat last year after 18 years, is also mulling a run.

A scenario featuring essentially a proxy at-large city council race clearly favors Halliday, a capable council member, who incidentally could be the only woman in the race. In the 2012 council race, Halliday received the highest number of votes in a field full of male candidates, including three of the potential candidates this time around. It’s an equation that may come into play again in 2014.

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