In a sign that Fremont City Council candidate Yang Shao is feeling pressure from residents over his previous anti-LGBT comments, he used his remarks at a candidate forum last Thursday night to express his opposition to all forms of discrimination.
During a question on affordable housing in Fremont, Shao rattled off opposition to seemingly every type of “phobia” imaginable. “Before talking about affordable housing, I would just like to say, I’m for an inclusive Fremont, free of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and any form of discrimination,” he said.
Shao, a current member of the Fremont school board running for the newly created District 4 council seat, received negative attention not only in the city but the entire East Bay after knowledge became widespread of his connection to the River of Life Christian Church, a Chinese evangelical mega-church in the South Bay that had taken a high-profile stance against gay marriage. Shao is a member of the church’s leadership.
In June, Fremont school teachers protested a Shao campaign kickoff event, which he ultimately cancelled. The teacher subsequently moved the demonstration to his home. The impetus was not only Shao’s history with the LGBT community but his poor treatment of the teachers union in Fremont, they said.
Furthermore, even in the cutthroat arena of politics, the level of animosity exhibited toward Shao from not only his District 4 opponents, but candidates in Fremont’s three other council races has been extraordinary. When several Fremont candidates were asked if they were endorsed by Shao at an Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting, all, with some level of theatrics, unequivocally said no, with others ripping him even though they were running in separate contests.
One of Shao’s opponents, former Fremont police chief Craig Steckler, was one of the candidates who held a strong opinion against Shao when addressing party leaders last month. Following Thursday’s forum in Fremont, Steckler again did not shrink from offering an blunt assessment of Shao’s apology from earlier in the evening. “He’s full of shit.”
At tonight’s candidate’s forum at Mission San Jose High tonight, Justin Sha, one of the candidates running against Yang Shao, accused him and his campaigners of removing his signs and painting swastikas on his banners. I noticed Yang Shao didn’t say a thing to deny it and just kept smiling. In fact, Yang Shao had a strange smile throughout the forum and never changed this expression. It was a bit creepy. His platform revolved around his experience as a FUSD trustee and I didn’t hear that much substance as to what he was going to do for Fremont. Traffic, development and public safety seemed to be the theme tonight. The two candidates that impressed me the most were Debra Watanuki and Justin Sha. Both showed passion and a willingness to listen and act with their constituents in a balanced manner for Fremont.