Hayward council candidate Matt McGrath retired
as a Hayward department head in 2014.

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward has a dearth of prospective candidates at all segments of its city government, but one may have been hiding all these years in its maintenance services department.

Matt McGrath is turning heads over the past month in the 10-person race for 4 seats on the Hayward City Council. In a city where labor was burned by the City Council two years ago, hot rhetoric from SEIU Local 1021 toward incumbents has rung hallow.

But, some labor officials tell the East Bay Citizen they have found McGrath to be a worthy candidate. Not to mention, McGrath’s stump speech always includes a line pledging to repair the animosity fostered by the previous council and city employees following a tumultuous wage imposition that was later found to be illegal last December by a state labor relations board.

Although, he’s a first-time candidate, McGrath was raised in Hayward and retired two years ago after serving as director of Hayward Maintenance Services.

“He’s great,” said one Alameda County Democratic Committee member last week. “He’s knowledgeable and he has insight into how the city works.”

In fact, during several recent forums and endorsement meetings in advance of the June primary, McGrath has equally praised Hayward’s potential while also acknowledging its challenges. “I wouldn’t change anything about, but I would improve everything,” McGrath said about the city Mar. 30 during a candidate forum.

Absent a strong ground game, winning one of four at-large seats on the council is going to be difficult, but not impossible. McGrath is possibly the first candidate in the running if one of the top four candidates falter. Councilmember Al Mendall is viewed as the most likely for re-election and the campaign of appointed incumbent Councilmember Elisa Marquez is well-financed.

Further down the ballot Councilmember Francisco Zermeno and his former council colleague Mark Salinas are viewed a rung below. Zermeno, though, has perennially squeaked by in all his council campaigns and Salinas is widely disliked by Democrats and labor (unions are also leery of Zermeno, too).

If either Zermeno or Salinas fall short in June, McGrath and former Hayward mayoral candidate Brian Schott are certainly the next in line for fourth place.