Joseph Hilson, three-term Hayward councilmember, passes

Joseph Hilson served on the Hayward City
Council from 1992 to 2004.

Joseph Hilson, a three-term Hayward councilmember, who was an early adopter of technology in local government, has died.

Hilson was elected in 1992 and served through 2004, before he was defeated in a watershed Hayward council election.

“He was a pleasure to work with and was a really nice guy. He was truly committed to making things better in this city,” said Hayward Mayor Barbara Halladay. “

Hilson, along with former Councilmember Olden Henson, founded the Hayward City Council’s Technology Committee. “He did a lot to bring us into the new era–technologically speaking–in Hayward, including issues that went into building the new City Hall,” she added.

Outside of Hayward government, Hilson worked on behalf of the city at the state level. “Joe was a leader as a planning commissioner and city councilmember for high standards for local developments,” said former Hayward Councilmember Kevin Dowling, who served with Hilson for six years. “He also represented Hayward well at the California and National League of Cities organizations.”

Known as a talker, Hilson was strongly supported by Hayward’s traditional power bases–police and fire unions and the city’s mobile-home associations. He was also viewed as an opponent of growth during his time on the council. His stance, though, often a response to rapid, almost unfettered building that occurred in Hayward during the late 1960s to early 1980s that was often substandard.

Hilson’s stint on the Hayward City Council ended in 2004 during what may be now viewed as a turning point in the city’s politics. In a 13-person race, Hilson, as the only incumbent seeking one of four at-large council seats, finished sixth. Halliday, the currently mayor, and Bill Quirk, now an assemblymember, instead, were elected to the City Council.

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