COUNCILWOMAN ATTACKS CASSIDY DURING FORUM; CALLS FOR 'NEW LEADERSHIP'
By Steven Tavares
The two main challengers to San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos made moves Thursday night to make it a two-person race with just a month until election day.
During the second candidates forum of this election season, Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak called out former school trustee Stephen Cassidy for what she described as "disrespectful" campaign stances against city employees. Cassidy has led the way in calling for pension reform to slow rising city pensions.
The normally even-tempered Starosciak chided Cassidy for his role two-years ago at the San Leandro school board for leading a vote of no-confidence by the teachers' union against former superintendent Christine Lim. "He has a poor track record with employee relations," Starosciak said. Lim was fired by the school board last January and many in the city's Asian community still suspect her dismissal was as a result of her race.
Afterwards, Starosciak questioned Cassidy's ability to work with city employees if elected and reiterated his connection to long-simmering saga with the superintendent's office. Cassidy later refuted Starosciak's comments. The teachers association voted with Cassidy on the vote of no-confidence, he said, while pointing to several current endorsements from the union and teachers.
The move by Starosciak to publicly attack Cassidy, instead of the presumed front-runner Santos may point to what many people believe has been a weak campaign for the councilwoman. Sources in the Santos camp recently told The Citizen they believed Cassidy has leaped over Starosciak to become their main competition. Starosciak also took shots at Santos Thursday saying the city "needs new leadership" and later called for "the right kind of mayor" to be elected.
Santos assured the large group, although smaller than the Sept. 8 forum, that "there is nothing really wrong with the city" and used the occasion to announced the $2.4 million federal grant for up to five new police officers and his surprise split endorsement with Starosciak for the Police Officers' Association endorsement. The union had previously endorsed Starosciak, but her stern comments regarding pensions reportedly angered officers leading to the additional backing of Santos for mayor. "They took a risk," said Starosciak on the union's decision, but added, "They chose me first."