San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy
and former Mayor Tony Santos are still
rivals four years later.

SAN LEANDRO | Former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos says the current mayor should apologize to residents for opposing a quarter percent sales tax increase four years ago that ultimately helped the city escape the Great Recession.

This week, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy voiced strong support for the renewal of the same sales tax hike, in addition to supporting its increase to a half percent for 30 years.

“He needs to apologize to us,” said Santos, who was defeated by Cassidy in 2010. “He not only supports it now, but he also wants to double it. What is he thinking?” Santos said proceeds from Measure Z became the life blood for the city’s struggling economy, as he predicted. “If voters hadn’t passed Measure Z, the city’s budget would have been disastrous.”

Santos has long been critical of Cassidy’s opposition to the sales tax increase, known as Measure Z. At one point during the campaign, Santos labeled Cassidy’s fiscally conservative campaign as more befitting of the Tea Party. Cassidy didn’t shy away when asked Wednesday about his rival’s comments.

“I opposed Measure Z four years ago because the city first needed to address soaring pension costs. The previous mayor refused to ask current employees to pay their share of pension costs and as a result the voters rejected his bid for re-election,” said Cassidy.

In short, the voters trusted me, not the previous mayor, to spend the Measure Z tax proceeds wisely. As mayor I worked collaboratively and successfully with city employees to address pension and benefit costs. The extension of Measure Z at the half-cent rate will enable the city to address longstanding infrastructure needs, including fixing our roads.”

Cassidy announced in May he will not seek re-election in the fall after one term.

There has been no love lost between Santos and Cassidy even before the mayoral campaign four years ago. In fact, Santos never conceded the election after losing the ranked choice voting race. Santos, though, gained the most first choice votes. However, after six rounds of tabulations, Cassidy came away with a slim 238 vote victory.