Alameda Councilmember Frank Matarrese

Seemingly from the day Trish Herrera Spencer was elected Alameda mayor in 2014, the line of challengers seeking to make her a one-termer began jockeying for position. Nearly three years later, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is a near lock to run for mayor next year, but speculation over whether Councilmember Frank Matarrese would do the same has been an open question until now.

In an email obtained by the East Bay Citizen, Matarrese signals he is close to joining next year’s race. Except, he’s just not certain about his chances for victory.

“As far as 2018, I stated that I want the job of mayor and am headed that way, but I don’t know if I can win,” Matarrese wrote in a Sept. 17 email to Alameda housing advocate Bill Smith.

Matarrese acknowledged the email exchange, specifically his state of mind regarding mayoral intentions, but not the overall contents of the email, which included Smith’s notes from a lengthy conversation with Matarrese over housing in Alameda. “My email yes, his not so much,” Matarrese responded in an email.

But, the admission is rarely seen insight into a candidate’s thoughts in anticipation of running for public office. In this case, his consternation may have merit, at least, strategically.

In a three-person race, with Spencer and Ashcraft, Matarrese’s chances would appear to rest on whether he could expand his base of voters, which run along the center of Alameda politics.

Conversely, some observers believe a run by Matarrese would significantly hinder Spencer’s chances of re-election since she gathers support from the same pool of voters, and likely hand the election to Ashcraft.

Matarrese’s previous run for Alameda mayor in 2010 might also dissuade him this time around, as it nearly did before his successful 2014 run for the City Council. Matarrese also served as an Alameda councilmember from 2002 to 2010.

In the past he acknowledged great distress following the brutal campaign that was waged against his former mayoral campaign and others by a group closely connected to SunCal, a former developer of Alameda Point.

When asked last month whether he would run for mayor, Matarrese indicated his age, 62, and the fact that he just became a grandfather, might also be factors for not running.