|San Leandro mayoral candidates Councilmember Pauline Cutter, Bal Theater owner Dan Dillman and Councilmember Diana Souza.|
THE CANDIDATES When Mayor Stephen Cassidy made the surprising announcement that he would not seek re-election after just one term; you would expect a series of musical chairs following the major recalculation of the city’s politics. But, this did not happen. Instead, just three candidates entered the race for mayor. But, no matter the results, San Leandro’s City Council is assured of having four of its seven seats change hands this November. Diana Souza, after two terms on the City Council, was already planning an insurgent campaign against Cassidy even before he left the race. Soon after, she quickly snagged the city’s valuable backing of the police officers’ union. Souza is also the city’s most fervent opponent of medical cannabis dispensaries. Councilmember Pauline Cutter has served one term on the City Council after 12 years on the school board. Her ties to Cassidy in the past make her the likely successor to his debatable accomplishment over the past four years. Local theater owner Dan Dillman has, at times, been the star of this campaign and the only candidate offering any thoughtful new ideas. Quite assuredly, Dillman is the only candidate in the East Bay who has served jail time in the past six months. Following a questionable 2011 altercation with police in front of his theater, Dillman served 69 days in jail this summer for battery against two sheriff’s deputies.
On the City Council side, all three seats are open. Councilmember Michael Gregory (District 1) and Souza (District 3) are termed out and Cutter opted to run for mayor instead of re-election. By far, the most contested race is in District 1 featuring school board member Mike Katz-Lacabe, Deborah Cox, Ken Pon and David Anderson, who ran for the seat in 2010. Three newcomers in District 3, including Zoning Commissioner Lee Thomas, hope to replace Souza. In District 5, school board member Corina Lopez is again seeking the seat four years after losing to Cutter. Community organizers Mia Ousley and Leah Hall are also in the race.
PAST RESULTS 2010 Results (RCV)—Mayor: 1, Stephen Cassidy 10,277 (50.57%) 2. Tony Santos 10,045 (49.43%); First Round: 1. Tony Santos 7,956 (35.48%) 2. Stephen Cassidy 7,894 (35.21%) 3. Joyce Starosciak 5,192 (23.16%) 4. Sara Mestas 918 (4.09%) 5. John Palau 388 (1.73%).
District 1: 1. Michael Gregory 12,973 (65.05%) 2. David Anderson 6,701 (33.60%); District 3: 1. Diana Souza 16,995 (97.2%); District 5: 1. Pauline Cutter 10,719 (53.21%) 2. Corina Lopez 9,215 (45.74%).
OUTLOOK The mayor’s race could be a dogfight between Souza and Cutter. Like Oakland and Berkeley, San Leandro uses ranked-choice voting and Dillman’s votes could be ultimately decide a close first round result. But, weirdness abounds in this race. Even though Dillman spent time in jail for beating cops, he is still a strong supporter of law enforcement. Souza is supported by the cops, but will Dillman’s supporters pick Souza as their number two if she’s also against dispensaries? Conversely, Cutter, like Souza, isn’t exactly the most inspiring candidate going. She is also Cassidy’s pick and lately, his support hasn’t really been helpful. Two years ago, his slate of three council candidates all lost. With so many clear negatives resting on these candidate’s head, it still confounds many why popular Councilmember Jim Prola did not run for mayor. It would have been cakewalk.
It’s difficult to project Katz-Lacabe winning the District 1 seat even though many have long speculated he would run for it following Gregory’s tenure. He simply has no presence in the race while Cox, with significant campaign fundraising is pouring it on with signs and mailers. Cox is nowhere near as progressive as Katz-Lacabe, which makes it even more depressing for left-minded San Leandrans dreaming of another labor-friendly council member in the mold of Prola. Thomas should have no problem in District 3 and his election will merely swap Souza’s moderate platform for his and although Ousley is making a spirited run, Lopez should make the leap from the school board and finally give the city’s Latino population a voice on the City Council.
PREDICTIONS Mayor: 1) Cutter 2) Souza 3) Dillman
City Council District 1 1) Cox 2) Katz-Lacabe 3) Pon 4) Anderson
City Council District 3 1) Thomas 2) Aguilar 3) Schoenfeld
City Council District 5 1) Lopez 2) Ousley 3) Hall