Former San Leandro Councilmember Surlene Grant 
is one of five applicants for the open seat
on Oro Loma Sanitary District.

ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT | Five applicants to replace long-time Oro Loma Sanitary District member Laython Landis will make their case Tuesday to fill out the remainder of his term through November 2016.

Landis officially retired Mar. 30 after a turbulent four months when he was sanctioned by the board for making racially-insensitive comments before a committee meeting last December. His colleagues eventually stripped Landis of all his committee assignments and numerous public officials and residents urged for him to resign. Instead, he announced his retirement from the board in February after nearly five decades in public service.

Among the five applicants to replace Landis is two African Americans from San Leandro, former San Leandro Councilmember Surlene Grant and Chike Udemezue, who finished fifth in last November’s general election. Similarly, Dan Walters, another candidate for the board last fall who finished fourth with more than 14 percent of the vote is another candidate. San Lorenzo resident Tom Silva, a well-known local insider and campaign contributor is also seeking the seat, along with Rita Duncan, a Hayward resident.

Laython Landis retired in March
after using the n-word at a meeting
in early December.

In addition to the board’s negative press of following Landis’ comments, an institutional lack of diversity has plagued the Oro Loma board of directors over the decades. Until current board member Shelia Young was elected last November, a woman had never sat on the board in its century-old history. The need for diversity in the wake of Landis’ comments may make Grant the odds-on favorite for the appointment.

Not only did Grant serve eight years on the San Leandro City Council from 1998-2006, she served during the same period when Young was mayor. Young is also a member of the board’s two-person ad-hoc committee (along with Board President Tim Becker) created to search for possible replacements for Landis’ seat.

The Oro Loma board will likely nominate and vote on one of the five applicants at Tuesday meeting in San Lorenzo, starting at 3 p.m., after each present their cases for the appointment and take questions from the board. However, if a new member is not chosen, the decision process will continue to the next regularly scheduled meeting on May 5, according to the district.