Hayward voters may be asked this November to amend its City Charter and allow non-citizens to serve on city boards and commissions.
The Hayward City Council unanimously voted to move forward the proposal on Tuesday night by directing staff to begin an analysis for placing the proposed charter amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The decision by the council to formally place the measure on the ballot would have to come sometime before the end of July in order to qualify for the November election.
Hayward’s City Charter, its guiding governmental document, states those eligible for appointment to city boards and commission must a “qualified elector for the city.”
The proposed amendment, offered by the city manager, city attorney, and city clerk, according to a staff report, would eliminate “qualified elector” and replace it with language extending service on boards and commission to all residents of Hayward, regardless of immigration status.
The impetus for the change, according to the city administration, is a consistent lack of qualified candidates for its boards and commissions. Several candidates have been turned away because they are not citizens, according to the staff report.
“There is recognition, however, that U.S. citizenship inhibits the Council’s ability to recruit among Hayward’s larger and more diverse community. Hayward residents who are not U.S. citizens are not necessarily less committed to serving the interests of the community than Hayward residents who are U.S. citizens and registered voters,” staff wrote.
Hayward is one of the most ethnically-diverse cities in the East Bay, touting a Latino population of roughly 40 percent. In addition, up until the last two years, during which vocal progressive activism has risen to prominence, Hayward, however, has long suffered from voter and political apathy.
Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday said the proposal makes good on a commitment made by the city following a recommendation offered in 2017 by its community task on race that called for a more inclusive city. “I think this speaks to that commitment,” Halliday said of the proposed charter amendment.
Councilmember Aisha Wahab questioned the origins of the charter amendment proposal, saying she had only heard of the proposal after reading about it in the latest agenda.
“I didn’t know where this was coming from,” Wahab added. “We have zero staff time for housing, but we have three city officers with time for a ballot measure.”
City Manager Kelly McAdoo conceded it is a “bit unusual” for staff to bring up forth a proposal absent the council’s direction. Halliday argued support for allowing non-citizens to serve on board and commissions may not have been specifically verbalized, but has existed in the council’s periphery for several years.
The potential addition of this measures and other city-approved measures on the November ballot will not add much to the cost of Hayward’s election, which will be somewhere in excess of $300,000, according to the city clerk. Hayward’s ballot in the fall already includes an at-large election for four seats on the City Council.
“It’s very unclear how much the cost is,” Wahab said, noting the proposed ballot measure may be controversial for some voters.
Councilmember Al Mendall also questioned the lack of specifics when it comes to the cost of the proposed charter amendment and the election in general, urging staff to provide concrete numbers when the proposal is brought back to the council.
*This article was updated to include comments from Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Interviews for appts start soon. Could delay to January if wins at the ballot.
Can only speak to Hayward, not to counties, state
Cost for ballot?
Due to covid will be different registar will be increased costs.
Ballot measure will increase rate, specifically the printing, translation and mailing in voter guide.
Mendall want more specifics on costs when it comes back.
I get the spirit of this,”
I want the cit