HAYWARD | MAYOR | In Hayward’s even mayoral campaign, the potential front runner, Councilmember Barbara Halliday, may have given her two main challengers a significant sound bite to use against her this June when she said Hayward will never be a wealthy city.

During a League of Women’s Voters forum Wednesday in Hayward, Halliday concluded her closing statement by describing her public service to the community and a pledge to return stability to the city’s fiscal bottom line. “We need to stick to our plan,” said Halliday. “But, you know, let’s face it, we probably never will in our lifetimes be a very wealthy city like, I don’t know, Piedmont, Palo Alto. We’re Hayward. I’m proud that we’re Hayward. We have a heart and we’ve shown it.”

Candidates Francisco Zermeno, Mark Salinas,
Barbara Halliday.

Councilmember Mark Salinas, another candidate for mayor, quickly seized upon the comment. “I’m the only candidate up here that was born and raised in Hayward and my optimism is, quite frankly, much greater,” Salinas said in his closing statement. “I think we can be better than Piedmont. I think we can be better than Danville, San Ramon. I think we can be better than a lot of these cities that people compare us to.”

Since the exchange occurred at the end of the 45-minute forum, mayoral candidate and Councilmember Francisco Zermeno did not have an opportunity while at the dais to weigh in. Afterwards, in an interview, Zermeno said Halliday’s comments are just another instance where city leaders are disparaging Hayward, instead of focusing on its positives. “It’s disrespectful of what we can be,” Zermeno said. “But, I’m not one to be attacking.”

When Halliday was asked about her comment, which some may find minimizing to Hayward’s potential, she said. “I don’t know what I said was so horrible?” Halliday added, she was only trying to emphasize Hayward’s unique qualities and the short time frame allowed during the forum for answering questions presents a challenge for fully expressing a candidate’s thoughts. “Sometimes in a minute you can’t say everything you mean out there.”

Halliday, though, was somewhat circumspect. “Yeah, you know, maybe I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t think that what I said was anything that was sort of not something everybody realizes. So, that’s not us. We have to be Hayward.”