Year-end campaign finance reports last February showed groups and individuals associated with landlords and property owners had contributed to three Hayward elected officials expecting to run for office this November. Two were not exactly surprising since they bend politically toward property owners.
Mayor Barbara Halliday and her opponent for re-election this fall, Councilmember Mark Salinas, received contributions from the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County (RHA) or the powerful California Apartment Association (CAA).
The third, Councilmember Sara Lamnin, was a bit curious to many. CAA gave Lamnin’s campaign $1,338 late last year, the highest allowable at the time. Recall, Lamnin won a seat on the council in 2014 on the cumulative strength of $150,000 from SEIU Local 1021. But now as she seeks re-election the existence of the landlords money may prove a hindrance among labor and progressive groups.
The issue was raised by the Our Revolution-backed FUN Progressive group earlier this week. The group is not chartered by the state Democratic Party, but it intends to help progressive candidates and issues in the Southern Alameda County area this election season.
Lamnin showed up to their meeting last weekend ostensibly to garner the group’s support, but as they hashed over approving their so-called “progressive pledge” for those seeking their endorsement, one of the group’s leaders may have taken the air out of Lamnin’s chances.
She specifically mentioned excluding candidates from consideration who receive money from RHA or CAA. In a general sense, the acceptance of donations from “corporate PACs” was deemed a conflict of interest for local elected officials and potentially taint their votes.
Lamnin said she was unaware the progressive group was hashing out their platform that evening, but attended the meeting with an eye for joining their ranks, which she did last weekend.
An assertion was made by one member of the group, according to a member who attended the meeting, that Lamnin could remedy the acceptance of a contribution from CAA by simply returning it and, therefore, become eligible to receive their endorsement this fall. It does not appear Lamnin intends to return the contribution.
“So far, my experience has been that the real concerns are less about who the money came from and more about what happens because it was accepted. Does the contribution that I received from the California Apartment Association or from the Sierra Club change the way I respond to the needs and direction from the Hayward community?” said Lamnin.
“I would contend that it does not. I do not accept money that comes with those kind of strings. The only thing that has been asked of me – whether it was organized labor in 2014 or the Chamber of Commerce in 2018 – was to be willing to meet and talk through issues.”
Lamnin is viewed as a front runner to win re-election to one of two open seats in Hayward’s at-large election format. Councilmember Marvin Peixoto is also up for re-election. With the deadline for candidates to file quickly approaching on Aug. 10, the main challenger to both Lamnin and Peixoto is Aisha Wahab, a local Democratic Party and progressive activist. Wahab is believed to be seeking the FUN Progressives’ endorsement next month.