Mark Salinas: looking ahead to 2016?

HAYWARD | Former Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas suffered two political defeats within the same month last July. He lost his bid for mayor, the race he chose to run instead of seeking re-election to his council seat and weeks later was passed over for an appointment back to the dais. Now, he suggests maybe more voter participation in Hayward might have returned a different result.

Salinas, who also briefly considered applying for the Alameda County supervisors seat left vacant in 2012 by Nadia Lockyer’s resignation, is viewed by many as young politician with eyes on higher public office. And although he is now political exile, a newsletter emailed to supportersThursday hints he may be mounting a comeback sooner than later.

In the newsletter, Salinas said he spent the time since the June election to contemplate its meaning. “One take away is this: more people need to vote in Hayward,” said Salinas.

The presence of voter apathy was a main story line following the four-person race for mayor last June. In a city of over 140,000 residents, Barbara Halliday needed just 4,211 votes to win the race. With over 62,000 registered voters, just 23 percent of Hayward residents participated in the election.

“So the take away is this,” Salinas continued. “municipal elections can not be decided based on a 23 percent voter turnout. As a city–especially with so many schools, colleges, and universities–we have to be more aware about local issues, local politics, and we have to be more aware of the impact our local elected officials have in our everyday quality of life.”

One culprit for the voter malaise in Hayward may be the lack of local news coverage of City Hall and, especially the last mayoral and council election, where the Daily Review was notably absent. In fact, following the election result, the paper of record never reported on the list of potential candidates for appointment to the final two years of Halliday’s seat until after the fact.

As for Salinas’ possible comeback, some Hayward politicos suggests a return to the council in 2016 is a definite possibility. Four seats will be open in two years. Councilmembers Greg Jones and Al Mendall will be up for re-election, as will Francisco Zermeno and the new appointee, Elisa Marquez. Of the quartet, Zermeno could be vulnerable and Marquez is still an unknown quantity at this point.